Item 7: Future work by Chantria Tram

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Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Item 7: Future Work
Joint Statement of Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and Montagnard Foundation
Speaker: Chantria Tram

Chairman and Distinguished members of the Forum

We are saddened to hear about the common conditions indigenous peoples face regarding boarding schools. Yet, we are pleased to participate in seeking solutions for a new future for our children.

We recommend that Vietnam:

  1. Ensures that the standards of these specialist boarding schools be equal to those of mainstream public schools.
  2. Permits arts and literature to be taught in our languages to safeguard and protect our cultures.
  3. Permits our histories to be taught in both mainstream public schools and boarding schools.
  4. Increases the number of places in all boarding schools and ensures unbiased geographical dispersion of new schools to ensure education for all is not a dream dependent on ethnic background.

Chairman and Distinguished members of the Forum

It is a great honor for me to speak at the 9th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and provide suggestions to be incorporated into its future work. We cannot change the past but we can and most definitely should collaborate to work for a better future. We are the youth of the Khmer-Krom people.

We have great recommendations for the UNPFII, but a few key questions that we pose each and every year remain unanswered. We once again request clarification from the UNPFII in the hope that a heavy burden be lifted from our hearts.

Still today the Vietnamese government refuses to recognize us as indigenous people of Vietnam. Are our temples in Preah Trapeang (Tra Vinh), Kleang (Soc Trang) and Moth Chrouk (Chau Doc) which are over 2000 years old, many years older than the existence of Vietnam itself not proof of a longstanding connection to our land? Is there a separate rule for Vietnam which states that our long history and distinct culture and tradition are worthless when designating indigenous status?

Unfortunately, this is the 6th year that we raise these concerns. We therefore recommend:

  1. That the Permanent Forum set up a half-day discussion on mechanisms for the representation of unrecognised and marginalised peoples who are not respected by their governments.
  2. That the Permanent Forum set up a Commission on the Definition of Indigenous People which then seeks an invitation from the Vietnamese Government.
  3. And that Vietnam accept our request to have open and constructive dialogue with the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation as proof of their commitment to protecting and promoting the rights of their own peoples..

We thank you Mr Chairman for allowing us to voice our concerns and offer our recommendations. We extend the hand of friendship and respect to those willing to enter into dialogue with us. We hope that 2010 marks the year that fruitful collaboration commences so that we find ourselves in a different position at the historic 10th Session next year.

We come here for the past 6 years to learn and try to understand ways to help our youth at home, where they are silenced and living in fear due to the human rights violations. During this time, NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and governments recognize the human rights violations in international law. I humbly ask again, If we are not here to represent our youth today at the UNPFII, who will? Vietnam has wanted to silence us; however we sincerely will continue speaking the truth. It is sad and awkward that the Vietnamese government keeps on denying our very existence and trying to make us invisible yet we are invincible just like our brothers and sisters attending the UNPFII.

Response statement by Vietnam Government, Mr. Nguyen Tat Thanh, Deputy Permanent Representative,

Statement by
Mr. Nguyen Tat Thanh, Deputy Permanent Representative,
Permanent Mission of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the United Nations at the Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

New York, 18 May 2007

Agenda item 4:
Implementation of recommendations on the six mandated areas of the Forum and on the Millennium Development Goals:
(a) Economic and social development;
(b) Environment;
(c) Health;
(d) Education;
(e) Culture;
(f) Human rights;

Madam Chairperson,

My Delegation wishes to congratulate you on your re-election as Chairperson of this Forum. Our equally warm congratulations go to the other members of the Bureau.

With a view to ensuring that the current economic growth benefits all groups of the population, in formulating and implementing socio-economic development policies and programmes, the Government of Viet Nam always takes steps so that they address the particular needs of disadvantaged groups of the population, including the 53 ethnic minorities who live in mountainous and remote areas and make up 12 % of the country’s population.

To achieve sustainable development for mountainous environment it is necessary to ensure harmony and balance between economic growth, social justice and environmental sustainability, and to preserve the cultural identity of all ethnicities. Therefore current priority areas are as follows:

    • To improve the livelihood and progressively meet material and spiritual needs of ethnic minorities, first and foremost, through poverty reduction and job generation programmes, especially for the most poverty-stricken areas. To improve access to basic services such as transportation and road system, irrigation, electricity, water, schools and clinics with a view to ensuring the balanced and realistic development among regions and ethnicities towards harmonious development contributing to the narrowing of development gaps among regions and groups of population. Pursue economic development as the focal task and the means to enhance the quality of life for ethnic minorities while observing the principle of social harmony, sustainable exploitation of natural resources and environment protection.
    • o maintain close linkage between socio-economic development and environment protection. Protect and improve the environment as an indispensable element of development and a must in all socio-economic development strategies, policies and programmes through measures of reasonable exploitation and preservation of resources such as forest, land, water, fauna, flora and genetic resources.
    • To ensure that socio-economic development is not detrimental to the particular and distinguished identity of traditional culture of mountainous ethnicities, by preserving and enriching cultural life of people through, inter alia, studies and preservation of the traditional culture of villages and communes, assisting the organization of various individual or joint cultural events, increasing the radio and television coverage in minority areas with increasing components in ethnic languages.
    • To undertake measures to encourage the participation of the people in identifying their needs, developing and implementing plans and monitoring and assessing their progress, especially the participation of women, local mass organizations and traditional communal organizations in all activities affecting the life of the people concerned.
    • To improve access to healthcare for ethnic minorities through providing free health insurance and some healthcare services, through conducting expanded vaccination programmes with a view to preventing diseases, and through minimizing the number of communes without clinics. As of present 96% of communes have their own clinics and vaccination coverage has reached over 90% and efforts are currently undertaken to ensure less accessible, remote mountainous areas also benefit from these programmes.
    • To develop human resources and pay greater attention to education and training through providing incentives in the enrollment of and support for ethnic students. Currently 8 ethnic writing systems are taught in schools nationwide including HMong, Cham, Bahnar, Jrai, Khmer.

To further implement land, housing and water policies (such as Decisions132 and 134 of 2002 of the Prime Minister for the Central Highland ethinic population) to ensure that every family has their own land for living and farming, adequate, durable and safe housing and individual or shared water supply.

Along this line, the Programme on Socio-Economic Development of communes with special difficulties in mountainous and ethnic minority areas (Programme 135) launched in 1998 has been extended until 2010 on the basis on its success stories and lessons learned. The current phase of Programme135 aims at considerably improving the production and income generation, infrastructure including transportation and irrigation systems, building schools and clinics at all communes, providing electricity and clean water, increasing enrollment rate at schools, providing free legal assistance and capacity building with a view to facilitating monitoring of investments and other activities by communities in their areas.

Madam Chairperson,

Before concluding, my Delegation feels compelled again to state our objection to the participation in this august body by entities, such as Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation, who have been engaging in separatist activities against the State of Viet Nam, including through, inter alia, spreading false information that my Delegation has always rejected. Such actions by these entities and individuals would only negate the effect of efforts by this Forum and my Government toward the betterment of all people on the ground.

Thank you for your attention.

UNPFII: Human Rights

Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 14-25 May 2007 at UN Headquarters, New York City

Speaker: Venerable Pin Diep
Item 4f: Human Rights

Joint Statement of United Association Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Buddhist Monks, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, Montagnard Foundation

Madame Chair,

Viet Nam comes here to boast its material growth yet its maniacal genocide on indigenous peoples is all the world knows about as more and more human rights violations are being recorded in the media of the world. Like a broken record, the government comes for its fourth year rejecting our participation as you just heard this morning. We will continue to speak truth to power in the streets of our homeland but also the sessions of human rights instruments at the UN.

The intervention this morning labeled our homeland as a marginal area. It is the essence of our existence. It is the core of our cultural survival. While the government speaks of preservation, we are not jam or jelly. We are an indigenous peoples. Our culture must be allowed to be perpetuated through the exercise of our human rights.

Unfortunately, there are many parts of the statement that aren’t true. However, we will focus on just one aspect – the right to health under the ICESCR. The government talks about clinics. However, for four years we have raised the issue of blind farmers and asked the government for a dialogue for positive solutions. Instead, there is a diatribe labeling us as separatists. We have always lived in the Mekong Delta. We aren’t going anywhere. We desire to exercise our right of self-determination. We recommend the government invite the Special Rapporteur on Health to Mekong Delta. This could begin a dialogue we have been requesting for years.

Last year, Vietnam was removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern by the US prior to entering WTO. Recent events in Kampuchea-Krom, however displays a stark reality of increased human rights violations and religious prosecution of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and civilians and Degar people.

The use of human rights instruments such as peaceful demonstrations and accessing human rights materials published by our organization have been met with unnecessary military action against our monks. At least nine monks were defrocked and imprisoned after participating in a peaceful protest in the Soc Trang on 22nd February 2007. Five of the defrocked monks have recently been sentenced to 2-5 years imprisonment by Vietnam government for the alleged crime of organizing a non violent protest.

Two Buddhist monks aged 17 were arrested and defrocked for capturing the unfolding events of monks being defrocked by Vietnamese authorities. This is a violation of the CRC and Vietnam is a party to the most widely ratified international human rights instrument.

Madame Chair, such actions by the Vietnam are unnecessarily against our Buddhist. As practitioner of Theravada Buddhism, it is our nature to promote peace and harmony, not conflict against the greater Vietnamese community.

We would like to propose the following recommendations:

  • Reaffirm the recommendation by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to place Vietnam back on CPC List
  • Ask that United Nations and world governments encourage Vietnam to uphold the international human rights treaties by immediately releasing all fifteen defrocked Buddhist monks.
  • Ask that Vietnam allow our Buddhist monks to create an independent religious organization to promote our rich history, religion and culture and not one that only promotes the one policy propaganda of the Vietnamese government.
  • Ask that Vietnam recognize and respect the rights of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and civilians to practice their religion as defined by their culture rather by the convenient of the State.
  • Urge the help of the Permanent Forum and UN to send a Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom to oppressed areas of Tra Vinh and Soc Trang province.
  • Ask Vietnam to acknowledge and allow the right of individuals and religious practitioners to take part in nonviolent demonstrations as a means to express their concerns and opinions by creating and adopting national laws to allow indigenous peoples to use mechanisms of human right.
  • Request the help of UNESCO to translate UN documents including into Khmer and create workshops to allow for greater awareness and protect for our monks.

 

Madame Chair, the intervention by the Vietnam government shows the lack of recognition our rights to be here at the forum. Our objectives like that of our indigenous brothers and sisters are to provide a resounding voice on behalf of our indigenous peoples.

The fact that Buddhist monks are protesting suggest that the work of our indigenous organization is finally reaching our people back home and that they are finally grasping the hungry knowledge of their rights and fundamental freedoms. However, such knowledge remains dangerous especially with the renew oppression by Vietnam to halt all human rights movement.

Lastly, we would like to appeal to all peoples who love peace and harmony to help our Buddhist monks find justice in world dominated by fear tactics and one way policies.

UNPFII Fifth Session: Item 3

Fifth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
15-26 May 2006 at UN Headquarters, New York City
Delegation: Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Speaker: Jeffrey Kim
Item 3

Madame Chair,

One of the biggest concerns for the Khmer Krom people is the lack of consultation of the Vietnamese government with our people including the Khmers Kampuchea Krom Federation (KKF), an organization representing the Khmer Krom people in South Vietnam. The denial that the Khmer Krom people are not indigenous peoples by the Vietnamese government remains an obstacle in our self determination. KKF’s work continues to be undermined and ineffective, our people disadvantaged and poorly represented with limited access to the vast resources and financial assistance that Vietnam has received from International Financial Institutions and UN specialized agencies. The KKF demands the aid pouring into Vietnam reaches the people in need and a global partnership for development is established.

• To ensure effective implementation of these goals, a two-way communication system should be installed or created between the Vietnamese government and the Indigenous Khmer Krom people in which the UN or a nominated independent organization shall act as a mediator to create a climate of conflict transformation.

• The Vietnamese government needs to work with UNESCO with the full participation of the indigenous Khmer Krom people including the KKF to create initiatives and indigenous specific programs.

• Programs that educate people about their rights and culture should be created, translated in their native language, promoted and implemented immediately to ensure indigenous people have equal access to these facilities.

• Sufficient funding needs to be allocated to combat the high child morality rates and empowering indigenous women through UNFPA and UNIFEM.

• Programs initiated needs to be tailor specific and practical to indigenous peoples

• To ensure reports and claims are correct as reported by the Vietnamese government, the Special Rapporteur must pay a compulsory visit to Vietnam to verify the situation of Khmer Krom people on the ground in South Vietnam.

• Creditable evidence of abuse of indigenous peoples by the responsible government should be reviewed by the UN and prompt action should be taken to allow for the realization of the MDGs by the Khmer Krom.

• A detailed annual report focusing on the human rights situation on the ground should be provided to members of the forum and the indigenous peoples by the Vietnamese government so new ideas may be recommended.

I am aware there are many more speakers sharing their story of struggle in their homelands that are similar. Therefore, I will provide only one example of how the MDGs are currently not being taken seriously by the government and if we do not redefine based on indigenous indicators will result in harm to our people. The Vietnam government admits in its ethnic minorities report, which doesn’t recognize us as indigenous peoples, claims Khmer have a high rate of illiteracy with poor information accessibility. This is true. However, forcing us to learn Vietnamese and only providing information not in our indigenous language will perpetuate the problem not promote a positive solution for our peoples daily enduring the harmful policies at the hands of the government.

Madam Chair, projects needs to feasible and practical to ensure effective implementation. Specifically in our case, we implore the UN to help set up a system which allows for direct consultation with the Vietnamese government so that we as an indigenous organisations may have a more active role in our self determination.

Thank you Madam Chair

 

Intervention Statement by Vietnam Delegation to UNPFII

My delegation wishes to raise concern in regards to a paragraph page 4 for SR Stavenhagen statement which partially concerns the central highland region in Vietnam.

Madame Chair person, my delegations have been participating in this Permanent Forum with the view to provide the Forum with the actual information of ethnic minorities on the ground, on their needs, the issues as well as the government’s efforts to address them.

By doing so, my delegation hopes that this will facilitate the deliberation and adoption that will be effective in addressing the needs of the people at the ground. Therefore, we have in many occasions rejected groundless information provided by some so called [organizations] with questionable political agenda who is based elsewhere outside the country.

Yet it is most unfortunate and disheartening to see that in the Forum such groundless information is more easily picked up coming to the Forum than information provided by my government including those on the government’s effort benefiting all fifty three ethnic minorities in Vietnam; including those in the Central Highlands of Vietnam as stated in the our previous statements.

Also on the question of information and dissidents information. One statement we heard earlier today asserted that my government
Madam Chair person, the constitution and laws of Vietnam guarantees freedom of religion and belief. They also guarantee the principles of equality of all citizens before the law. And that is the principle that we continue to uphold in building the law of the country.

All those who committed crimes punishable under the pinit code will be according prosecuted regards of their ethnicity and religion.

Thank you Madame Chair person.


UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Stavenhagen Rodolfo in response to Vietnam intervention

I am not sure that some of the issues I referred there are groundless because they have been provided by peoples who provide serious information about my situation. But as Special Rapporteur, of course, very much appreciate and welcome further information on these issues which is precisely the purpose of dialogues that Madame Chair person has asked us to engage in.

Let me just say that over there years that I have sent some communications to the governments of Vietnam regarding some complaints from various sources and I shall request the government of Vietnam to provide an answer to through the effective means available mechanisms and procedures of the Special Rapporteur.

UNPFII 2009: Item 3(c) Vietnam Intervention part 1

Vietnam representatives attempts to make an intervention following the speech of Miss. Marly Son but launches into a full statement. See how the Chair Madame responded.

Vietnam government representative: Madame Chair,
I would like to say thank you for convening this important section, my delegations high appreciates the effort of the secretariat and the vast majority of participants at this Permanent Forum in protecting and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples. We support the spirit of dialogue and cooperation which most of the participants have been engaged in their consideration.

It is in the spirit that we commit always to working closely with other participants to contribute to the success of this forum. My delegations is however, deeply concerned about the registration procedures of the Forum’s participation. We believe that constructive dialogue and sincere cooperation can only be established if the Forum is attended and addressed by right participants who are well informed and therefore truly capable of representing indigenous peoples and discussing genuine concerns of indigenous peoples.

With this in mind, we are obliged to express our objection to the participation and statement just made by Khmers Krom Federation. This so called Federation cannot represent Vietnamese indigenous peoples as they have been based outside the country for many decades. Without any knowledge or reality on the ground, driven by political motivation, they have carried out separatist activities against Vietnamese government and peoples and provoking disunity amongst the Vietnamese peoples. Having provided the Forum’s participants with groundless and distorted information, the only proof is that they are keeping a blind eye is the fact that the Vietnamese nation has worked very hard to handle the war and emerged peaceful and united and they are enjoying a much better live.

All the 54 ethnic groups are pure brothers and sisters of the Vietnamese family with an equal footing in every field and cooperation. Participating in this forum, with such political fabrication, the so called Khmer Krom Federation are actually discrediting this respected Forum, misrepresenting the indigenous peoples in Vietnam, discrediting our section and wasting our time.

Madame Chair, while maintaining our reservation at maintaining…

Madame Chair: Hits the hammer and tells Vietnam to conclude

VN Representative: Madame Chair, we believe we have the right to respond

Vietnam representative wants to continue but Madame Chair said no. Madame Chair announces that she will move to the next speaker. Unhappy, Vietnam representative uses her sign to tap the front desk for attention. After a few attempts, she is forced to give up as Madame Chair moves to the next speaker.

Participants of the Forum applauds Madame Chair for her final decision.

Vietnam Cancels Khmer Krom Side Event at UNPFII

In true communist style, the Vietnam government representatives have cancelled a side event organized by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation to screen Rebecca Sommer’s film entitled, “Eliminated without bleeding” to be held on 23nd May 2007.

Detailing the heart breaking story and struggle of the Khmer Krom people in Kampuchea-Krom, the documentary is the first of its kind to portray the startling reality of indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta.

Yesterday, the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation received correspondence from Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stating that Vietnam has issued a formal complaint to cancel the side event on the basis of having two scheduled screening of two films on UN premises on 22 May (“Hunted like Animals”)and on 23 May (Eliminated without Blood”).

Despite such acts to subdue the voices of the Khmer Krom people, KKF will be continue to host the side event speaking about the human rights situation in Vietnam.

[youtube]d9Qvw6mTllQ,_UHq7WmZ8G0,GWBvVcOfDUs,jDT2rinrFNQ,12n7HphTEkE[/youtube]

Click here to see film on YouTube presented by Rebecca Sommers

UNPFII 2009: Item 3(c) Vietnam Intervention part 2

UNPFII 2009: Item 3(c) Vietnam Intervention part 2

Just before the closing of the Forum on Tuesday, Vietnam was given time to make it full statement. The Vietnamese government representative once again reaffirms its objection to the participation of the members of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and launches into a detailed reponse on what Vietnam has been doing to help Khmer Krom out.
Full statement audio

Item 4g: Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – English

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

Madame Chair,
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:

  • Reiterate our request that Vietnam recognize the Khmer Krom people and Degar people are the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta and Central Highlands respectively.
  • On the conclusion of the first decade and in preparation of the second decade ask the Vietnam government to invite UN Special Rapporteur on Health, Education and Human Rights to determine the real situation at the ground level.
  • Ask that Vietnam with the help of the Permanent Forum to establish a series of meeting and dialogues to establish a working partnership with our organizations to ensure that the needs of indigenous peoples are well represented.
  • Strongly urge Vietnam to initiate a review of national legislation to incorporate indigenous laws that recognizes the Khmer Krom people and the Montagnard people as the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta region and of Central Highlands respectively.
  • Reaffirm the need of Vietnam to incorporate indigenous tradition learning system, especially in the Khmer and Degar languages into formal and informal education in all areas. The ceremonies punctuating the life of our people should not be ignored at the school.
  • Ask that Vietnam work in collaboration with our indigenous organization and NGOs such as UNESCO and CEDAW to create a series of workshops to educate about their basic rights and fundamental freedoms including women’s rights.

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.