UNPFII 2009: Item 3(c) Vietnam Intervention part 2
Sixth Session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Item 4g: Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
Joint Statement by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
& Montagnard Foundation
Speaker: Romy Thach
Tuesday 23 May 2007
Thank you for allowing me to speak. The objectives of the MDGs are the main focus of this forum. Our people continue to live in extreme poverty, often forgotten because of their ethnic background and geographic location. Very little know the existence of MDGs let alone be an active participant in identifying their needs from an indigenous perspective.
We believe that the main problem which arises is the issue of assistance to the zones mostly affected and should not be discriminatory against indigenous or ethnic peoples concerned.
If Vietnam wants to achieve MDGs, we would like to propose the following recommendations:
Madame Chair, as reported by numerous non governmental organizations in recent days, the lack of recognition of indigenous peoples by government such as Vietnam poses a great barrier for a collaborative achievement of the MDGs. Vietnam’s one way policies prevents the important work of our organizations to increase the knowledge and access of our people to readily available human rights mechanisms. Rather than foster an environment in which we can collaborate collectively, Vietnam has always rejected our suggestions even at the international level.
It has now been four years since Vietnam rejects our positive contribution to the Permanent Forum. We believe for the mutual interest of our indigenous peoples that we start working together to better the lives of our indigenous peoples.
For that reason, we believe that the earlier the work takes place, the earlier our people can benefit from such measurements adapted to their needs.
Eighth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Item 7: Future work
The Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Speaker: Somalin Thach
The future work of the UN PFII is essential to our existence. The UN PFII is an important space for indigenous peoples of Asia to raise their rights and stand in solidarity for sustainable development that respects our cultural heritage. We have appreciated the new developments in the review process initiated this year with the UN specialized agencies thoroughly presenting their commitment to indigenous peoples. The emerging dialogue is and will continue to be very important in future sessions of the UN PFII.
We would like to suggest the following recommendations:
We are the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta. Our parents were forced to flee Vietnam because of the discriminatory system created against our people on basis of our identity and unique culture. Even after the decades of gross human rights violations, our relatives and elders remain in our homeland standing up and facing severe repercussions for doing exactly what we are doing here.
We speak here every PFII session in honor of our brave people silenced and living in fear due to the human rights violations recognized in international law by governments as well as NGOs such as Human Rights Watch. I humbly ask, If we are not here to represent our people today at the UNPFII, who will? Vietnam has wanted to silence us, however, we sincerely will continue speaking the truth.
I want nothing more but to live in my homeland as my ancestors have been speaking our indigenous language and practicing our unique cultural heritage. Unfortunately the tone and tactics in Vietnam indicate my homecoming would not be very welcoming.
Madame Chair, we strongly believe that it is time that Vietnam moves beyond the denial of our right to speak at this Permanent Forum and put into practice the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by its very own Constitution and the UN DRIP.
We ask that Vietnam open their minds as well as their hearts and embrace the spirit of working in partnership so that we can work together to better the lives of the Khmer Krom peoples.
With the world as our witness, I stand up for our voiceless women at home to lead by example and extend our hand of friendship, reconciliation and peace in the hope that we can finally live together in a culture of human rights. Will Vietnam make history today and accept our hand of trust? Let’s shake as young women of South East Asia for a future of freedom, respect and equality for all.
Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Item 9: Future Work
Joint Statement of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation
Speaker: Soda Luu
We are particular pleased with the development of Monday‘s half day session on Asia as it provided a great opportunity for the indigenous organizations, experts and governments alike to have a dialogue on issues that specifically affects us. One issue that remains a major obstacle for indigenous groups in South East Asia, such as Vietnam is the lack of recognition by governments of our claim as indigenous peoples.
We are encouraged by the comment of Special Rapporteur Mr. Stavenhagen in urging the government of Vietnam to accept the human rights situation and start using the readily available human rights instruments and mechanism to resolve such serious issues, including the recommendations by our indigenous organizations. Mr. Stavenhagen also encouraged the government of Vietnam to respond to his letters when he sends them asking for clarification on human rights situation in indigenous communities of Vietnam.
In light of the forum’s future work, we would like to propose the following recommendation:
For the last four years, Vietnam has adamantly denied our positive contribution to the Forum and rejected all our information regarding human rights violation as “groundless information” and accused us of having a political agenda. Our only agenda is human rights.
We encourage the government of Vietnam to exercise the spirit of compassion towards our people especially towards our Buddhist monks who are thirsty for justice and peace and the right to self determination.
Collective Statement by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation
Speaker: Ricky Tran
Land is the soil in which we walk, live and breathe. Having lived on the Mekong Delta region for centuries, our people love harvesting our growing rice fields. We have lived in harmony with our rich land and natural resources. Vietnam armed with no knowledge or respect of the land has over the decades created canals which have destroyed our lands, channelling salt and changing the fundamental landscape of our land.
The onset of climate change means that the rich fertile lands of the Mekong Delta will be submerged if the world’s temperature increases by only one degree. Not only will rich fertile lands disappear but millions of Khmer Krom people will be potentially displaced and deeper entrenched in poverty.
Our homeland is the core of our human rights promotion and protection. Climate change drastically changes our living conditions and our ability to survive in the face of rising seas due to no actions of our own.
In the low lying delta of the Mekong, climate change is causing increased flooding in the area. Already we are witnessing an increased salienation of our valuable water destroying our crops that we depend on for nutrition and maintaining our basic health.
We are witnessing an ever increasing impact on our right to health. However, if policy and practices continue we will surely be struggling to exercise our right of self-determination as our homeland will be submerged. How can one inhabit a homeland that is underwater? Where will our people live? How can we leave our lands our ancestors have inhabited since time immemorial? We request concerted actions. The path of development by Vietnam since its invasion of our ancestral lands has damaged the environment as never before. We have a moral, collective duty to restore the natural state of nature in Kampuchea Krom.
We would like to recommend the following:
• Request the assistance of the Permanent Forum to initiate a dialogue between Vietnam and KKF to take immediate action to mitigate the climate change impacts on our indigenous community
• Ask UNPFII to help initiate a consultation process on climate change between the Khmer Krom people and Vietnam to ensure indigenous peoples take an active role in policy development and dialogue.
• Seek the help of UNESCO to create a publication that classifies the important biodiversity of Kampuchea Krom in our own indigenous language as a teaching tool for future generations that will can serve as a catalyst for education.
• In collaboration with UNDP, the Khmer experience and culture can shape future development that can combat the current impacts of climate change and initiate a model of sustainable development. .
• Seek the help of UNDP, UNEP and WMO to establish an agency in Vietnam with access to the advanced weather technologies to give early warning to the extreme weather conditions focusing only on Mekong Delta, fully supported by the government and the international community
• Ask UNICEF to help initiate projects which will help to distribute have climate change information and awareness, more importantly translate the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples document into their traditional language, Khmer and distributed to all areas and all people including the Khmer Krom children. Climate education holds the key for prevention and preparation for this terrifying phenomenon.
• Seek the help of UNHABITAT to develop an effective system of providing aid to those who are in need when experiencing losses through the effect of climate change such as floods and typhoons.
• Ask that UNEP assist in establishing a sustainable land management programme to protect our livelihoods such as planting trees to control the flow of floodwater to avoid large amount of damages to the farmland, properties and food supplies.
• Seek adequate technical and financial support from the international communities such UNDP and the World Bank in terms of establishing new agencies and organisations and implementing programmes and strategies.
• Seek the help of UNEP to develop a flood protection strategy and assets management in place such as setting up workshops on flood management, looking at various techniques and approaches to improve the management of floods and local preparedness to mitigate the negative effect.
• Ask that Vietnam stop demanding that Khmer Krom blindly follow all their rules, regulations and policies without a feedback process or an opportunity for Khmer Krom farmers to participate in a constructive dialogue on sustainable development. .
Madame Chair, climate change is a threat to our civilisation and existence on this earth. In order to halt further damages to our natural land and resources, we must set aside our differences and work together.
Vietnam says it is ready for the world when it announced that it ready for human rights dialogue but is it really ready to participate in a genuine partnership to save our planet?
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Joint Statement by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Item 7: Urbanization and Migration of indigenous peoples
Speaker: Sothy Kien
Today’s agenda focusing on specific region of Asia and theme of Urbanization is a great opportunity to meet the aspirations of this forum to increase positive dialogue between the actors to protect human rights in partnership and meet the MDGs for our people.
While we know we have differences with the government, we desire a dialogue. We will practice our spiritual beliefs of compassion to agree to the proposed meeting between Vietnam and KKF.
We also agree with the inclusion of SR Stavenhagen as the government was responding to his report. If UNPFII chair Tauli-Corpuz can also assist, we believe we could arrange a series of dialogues that allow for us to return to the 7th UNPFII session with some positive direction to secure the fundamental freedoms in Asia, specifically in Kampuchea Krom of Vietnam.
Madame Chair, item 7 attaches significant for the Khmer Krom people as majority of our people are from the
rural areas of Vietnam. Traditionally farmers, the rich fertile Mekong delta has provided an essential source of food and survival for the indigenous Khmer Krom people. Recent canals projects initiated by Vietnam authorities have destroyed much of the rice fields by channeling salt water into fresh water farming, forcing thousands to abandon their home and
migrate to already crowded cities.
Like a domino affect, elevated levels of poverty, lack of education and landlessness has resulted in many Khmer
Krom women and young girls getting caught with trafficking rings and finding employment that violate their
culture and traditional lifestyles. We would like to recommend the following:
▪ Request that Vietnam consult indigenous peoples before creating canals projects on their ancestral lands by
the use of free and informed consent.
▪ Ask Vietnam to adopt the ILO 169 Convention to ensure the protection of Khmer Krom and Degar people
and in recognition of their vulnerability and poverty.
▪ Seek the assistance of UN-HABITAT to create initiatives to help provide adequate shelter and housing for
homeless Khmer Krom.
▪ Ask that Vietnam establish and implement national laws to protect lands of indigenous peoples from further
illegal land grabbing.
▪ Ask that Vietnam start taking serious and immediately actions to process land claims by indigenous peoples.
▪ Seek the help of Permanent Forum members to urge Vietnam to recognize the importance of the sacred
homeland of Kampuchea Krom to the Khmer Krom people. Also, that Vietnam work in collaboration with UN
agencies to recognize that the further taking of land results in the negative direction of indicators for the livelihood of indigenous peoples. Recognizing land and prevention of migration would assist Vietnam in reaching the
8 MDGs and also its obligation of human rights protection and promotion under international laws.
Madame Chair, Vietnam continues to deny the truth of our statement, in that regards, we would like to urge
Vietnam to read the latest report on the Church of Asia, UNPO, US commission on International Religious Freedom for the latest violation against the Khmer Krom people.
It is our sincere hope today will be a turning point in which a series of dialogues can happen so that the voice of
our peoples can be heard.
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Thursday, April 25, 2008
Speaker: Sothy Kien
Collective Statement by Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation
We would like to say thank you to Vietnam and the other countries for taking the positive step of supporting the 13 September 2007 adoption of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, unlike many of our indigenous Native American and Native Canadian brothers and sisters, our people from Asia are not recognized at all.
We believe unless such recognition occurs, our people will continue to be denied our basic fundamental freedoms as guaranteed under the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. Already our rights are not realized. Future work will become irrelevant at the international level and for each individual Khmer if we are not recognized.
Taking advantage of the recent adoption of the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we would like to request the help the Permanent Forum and governments around the world to help set up an appropriate timeframe for which countries who has not yet recognized its indigenous people to do so. The adoption must not only be superficial but substantive in the daily lives of indigenous peoples.
During Human Rights Council meeting last March, Vietnam announced that it was ready for human rights dialogue. For the last four years, we have affirmed the need of an open dialogue between Vietnam and the KKF on human rights at the Permanent Forum. Let us make a historic moment and start a human rights dialogue here today.
We would to contribute the following recommendation to the Permanent Forum in regards to this item:
• Request the aid of the Permanent Forum to set up an open dialogue between Vietnam and KKF during a session on the Permanent Forum.
• Through such interactions, we can begin to look at ways in which we can initiate the process of recognizing the Khmer Krom people and the Montagnard as indigenous peoples and explore effective mechanisms to ensure that they are included in free and informed decision making processes affecting Khmer communities.
• Ask that Vietnam provides a detailed summary of specific policies or programs targeting Indigenous Peoples that are currently taking place or proposed in their Five Year Socio-Economic Development Plan.
• That a national education campaign is established in Khmer language about the MDGs as well as international human rights instruments such as CEDAW, so our Khmer-Krom people are aware of their basic rights and able to be active participants.
• That the consultation and implementation of such national plans are conducted under the principles of free, prior and informed consent with indigenous groups and local people to ensure that such programs do not destroy the ancestral lands and compromise our traditions
• Request that the aid from the World Bank and IMF to allocate specific funds donated to Vietnam to create vocational programs in the local areas where millions of the indigenous Khmer Krom people who are living in the Mekong Delta.
• Ask that Vietnam work in close collaboration in genuine partnership with specialized agencies and KKF and the Montagnard Foundation to meet mutual objectives.
• Seek a reversal of current trend of urbanization and Vietnamization. KKF ask that victims of the State’s failure or disastrous projects that result in contaminating land be immediately compensated to provide the basic living essentials and to halt the influx of Khmer Krom people being forced to move to other provinces to find employment.
• Request the aid of FAO, ILO and Vietnam to help provide employment opportunities for many local Khmer Krom people who are now finding themselves landless as result of land confiscation by corporations and the country of Vietnam.
• Ask that all special inter-agencies be open to workshops in Kampuchea Krom and where our people live in large diaspora around the world to allow for more effective partnership from indigenous organizations about policies and programs taking place in our homelands
• Ask that Vietnam allows independent organizations to be formed to enable further social and cultural development of indigenous peoples.
• Ask for projects that will integrate the indigenous peoples into mainstream society be culturally appropriate and sensitive to their distinctive culture without eroding their sense of identity.
• While Vietnam is recognized as Asia’s second fastest growing economy in recent years with GDP annually increasing over 8% and making 138.6 Billion USD in 2005, the rural areas where Khmer Krom people are living, does not have a proportional share of Vietnam’s social and economic progress. The KKF remain behind as we are deemed backward by the Vietnam government. We demand to be equal partners for the economic and social development of our homeland.
We are particularly concern that the MDGs for indigenous peoples will not be met if Vietnam continues to undermine the positive contribution of our work at the Permanent Forum.
Thank you Madame Chair
Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
14-25 May 2007 at UN Headquarters, New York City
Delegation: Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Special Theme: Territories, Lands and Natural Resources
Speaker: Romy Thach
We would like to congratulate you on your reelection as chair of the UNPFII. We also would like to thank you for visiting our community in exile at the temple in Cambodia in February. Our people that have been forced from our homelands were pleased to meet a member of the international community that cares about our struggle for self-determination.
We will begin with recommendations to ensure our connection to our sacred homelands in the face of dire circumstances denying our identity.
Madame Chair, we are convinced that the above measures will improve the living conditions of the Khmer Krom people living under extreme poverty. Such recommendations will help Vietnam achieve Millennium Development goals.
Lastly, we would like to reaffirm our support for the adoption of the Declaration on Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.
In response to joint statement made by Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) and the Montagnard Foundation, Permanent Mission of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam representative has given a speech to the Permanent Forum on Monday 28th April 2008 during the special item on Human rights: dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and other special rapporteurs.
“The work of the PFII should be based on accurate information. Unfortunately, it has not been provided,” stated the Vietnam government representative.
“We strongly object to the participation of the KKF who are based outside Vietnam and try to claim representation. The information provided cannot be seen as objective and relevant.”
“The participation [of KKF and the Montagnard Foundation] only creates distraction that could have been offered to indigenous peoples around the world, PFII members,” says Vietnam government representative.
For over 4 years, Vietnam government has reaffirmed that KKF and the Montagnard Foundation should not be given the right to speak about Vietnam, claiming that the above indigenous organisation bring false information to the Permanent Forum.
This year, Vietnam states that such organisations are only creating a distraction to the Permanent Members.
If KKF does not bring the issue of Khmer Krom to the Permanent Forum, will Vietnam really do so?
Full speech by Vietnam representative is currently unavailable. It does not openly distribute its statement like most democratic governments however; KKN will endeavour to obtain the full speech in the next few days.
Interventions by Board of Permanent Forum Members
Wednesday 17th May 2006
I am encouraged in dialogue with states. We have not had adequate times to exchange views. I want to begin with the last presentation. I want to give own personal congratulations with her recognition by Spain. Thank you to Spain. In the order of presentation, let me begin with Sami parliament and Norway. Their first sentence, I will quote, My delegation would like to emphasize that a rights based approach is fundamental to reach the MDGs. I also want to combine with Greenland. The strategy they are taking is a rights-based approach and strengthen the right of SD of Ips as a basic instrument for defining human rights in international context. Then look at the Rio group and thank them for admonishing us.
PFII should not only highlight shortcoming but also to advocate for debt relief. Yesterday, we had an intervention by indigenous woman or global caucus and they referred to debt. They commented the greatest debt is owed to Ips as stated in SR. With the Vietnamese intervention in their concluding remarks are quite aggressive in rejecting all groundless information. I am wondering if that takes into account the position of some delegations previous to this aspect of self-identification and a direct argument against as well. Now, I can move toward a positive statement because it fits my line.
Fiji looks forward to the adoption of the DRIP later this year. Which brings me toUS/AUS/NZ. I want to express a reservation. I want to come back to this under Agenda Item 4. I want to come back to it but for the time being with the greatest respect. One of our elders would say them are fighting words. The joint intervention states articulating SD is a misrepresentation of this right. What it does is recognize and affirm existing inherent rights. As to creating potential instability, again I would beg to differ. From a different perspective it has the potential for partnership much in line with Sami parliament intervention when he calls and reflects on expert seminar in Nuuk. If I can quote from him. The rights of UN DRIP underscores full and effective participation. Once the DRIP is adopted, it can be partnership.
I asked for a legal opinion on consensus. We did receive it. A part of our mandate calls on us to have consensus as a rule of procedure. Look at that definition. In my view and like others I have been on this matter since 1977. I have been involved since 1975 when the first declaration and the rights and duties of principles. We do have consensus based on UN definition. UN calls on states to express a reservation but that does not mean we don’t have consensus. About the DRIP undermining human rights, it is a potential for Ips to catch up with the rest of the world. The words that this declaration as artificial and irrelevant. I would have to juxtapose that many states and scholars would disagree and counter it with legal arguments not just a statement like this. I want to hold until next week with a legal argument. The situation of Ips in some countries is worrisome. I would worry indeed in those countries. I save the best for last. Now, I challenge Canada to take a new active role to being elected to the new HR Council. Will you be prepared to move for adoption in the new HR council
We want to hear governments talk about direct programs to eliminate hunger and inequity for our peoples which fall to the youth, children and women. We want to hear about better cooperation and coordination of their activities. I think all of us would focus on environmental sustainability. It was interesting to hear the transparency in the US/AUS/NZ. All of us sitting here have noted that we must begin an exhaustive analysis of colonial and historical of why there is inequity. We created this forum to speak to UNESCO and UN so it can elaborate policies to redress these inequalities. We the Ips want to reestablish our countries in the framework of human rights and the rule of law. We don’t want to be divided. We wish to reestablish publics on a shared vision of an indigenous and non-indigenous vision. What we need is the vision of indigenous because we are subjects of international law. We have sought to have our natural resources respected as well. All of this represents life and true equity in our states. So, it is worthwhile globalizing a number of values for respect, coexistence in the spirit
of justice and peace.
With all due respect to these three states, I wish to speak as a Korana from S. Africa. The plight and suffering of my ancestors. Colonization was the mother of all debt. It destroyed so many communities that were alienated from their way of life. Slavery shaped colonial societies imposing master/slave relationship based on skin color. I do not know. What have they been cooing for the last 300 – 400 years. Lands and resources stolen from IPS must eventually be returned. Collective rights are what Ips are about. We share everything equally among ourselves. It is our indigenous way of life. I call upon all of the governments of the world to ratify the rights of Ips.
It is important that Norway and Denmark have their Ips speak on their behalf. Both Norway and Sami are represented by Johan. I thank you both for your interventions. More states should do so. I look forward to the future in the work you are doing. I look forward to the work in your countries. Global association of indigenous parliamentarians. I hope the indigenous parliamentarians would talk on this initiative with the parliament present here. I thank the governments for the full support of indigenous peoples. You have shown such an exemplary manner in dealing with indigenous issues. It was a surprising intervention by the US/NZ/AUS. I support the comments made by other members of the PFII especially Willie Littlechild. I also hope we will have discussion when we have the opportunity to discuss on Monday. Johan said on behalf of Greenland/Denmark. The strategy of rights based approach is the overall way to strengthen the rights of Ips to define indigenous rights in national and international context. This is one of the most distinguished comments and a dignified manner to discuss with Ips.
Is Vietnam going to recognize Ips. I would like to ask how they are treating ethnic minorities as Ips or in other ways. Particular their comment in the last. If States are behaving in such a way here toward its own people. How do you think the problems will be resolved? This is the time we need to reconcile the conflict. I think Vietnam should think about solving the problem in the country.
Country is ours but their state is not ours. This is the time we need to change this phrase. Country is ours as well as state is ours. If the states re not going to recognize the rights of Ips as different peoples that is the challenge to the entire civilizations. I call upon all states to support the DRIP unconditionally.