Happy New Year 2015 Messages by KKF President

Happy New Year 2015 Messages by KKF President

Thach N. Thach – KKF President
What a year 2014 has been! From the Universal Periodic Review in February to our annual UNPFII, EMRIP to a successful Europe Mission in November, KKF has worked around the clock to keep the Khmer-Krom issues in the international spotlight.

This year has proved most challenging, but KKF has once again proven that it can rise to all challenges with it phenomenal force of dedicated and passionate volunteers across the world, working together to bring a voice for the millions of voiceless Khmer-Krom living in Kampuchea-Krom.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight some of our activities at the local and international level to keep the world aware of our people’s issues. In February, Vietnam was up for its second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and was questioned by 106 diplomats represented for their own countries. KKF was able to submit a Shadow report to the Human Rights Council prior to its review and lobbied with States in order for them to ask questions on our behalf. On June 20th, Vietnam rejected 45 key recommendations out of 227 relating to core fundamental human rights, such as freedom of press and express, Freedom of Religion and Association. The rejection of such key recommendations has shown the world that Vietnam does not fully obligate its commitment as a member of the Human Rights Council.

 In May, we saw one of the biggest efforts of our local chapters to support and send Khmer-Krom youths to participate at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City and the annual Khmer-Krom World Youth Conference. In July, our voice was heard at EMRIP and on the streets of Washington DC in a peaceful demonstration in front of Vietnam’s Embassy as well as inside the US State Department. 

In November, KKF was once again present during Vietnam’s review of its commitment to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In addition to the submission of KKF’s Alternative Report to the Experts, our KKF Youth President also delivered recommendations in a speech to the Committee members.  During Vietnam’s review, one of the experts asked, “How were Khmer people classified as an ethnic minority, when they themselves wished to be recognized as indigenous peoples?” This question was in response to a concern raised by KKF which highlighted a statement in which Vietnam says in their report that there were no indigenous peoples within their borders. The twenty one delegation of Vietnam chose to elude this question, stating after a few hesitant answers that it had no indigenous peoples. Such answers demonstrate to the world that Vietnam continues to violate the will and wishes of the Khmer-Krom people to be recognized as indigenous peoples.

KKF Delegation at the Review of Vietnam’s CESCR

KKF as an organization has shown the world that it provides truthful and accurate on the ground information to international experts across the globe. For example, prior to this visit to Vietnam from 21-31 July, 2014, Mr. Hiener Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, contacted KKF in regards to the concerns of our people in Kampuchea-Krom and which places or temples they should visit. At the press conference in Hanoi after cutting his trip short, he stated, “Granting autonomy for religious communities to function independently would be a litmus test for the development of freedom of religion or belief in Viet Nam. In the current situation, their ability to operate as independent communities is unsafe and restricted.”

KKF also hosted a meeting during November in Paris with Cambodian Researchers living in France to start the “White Book” Project to begin the research and documentation of the true history of Kampuchea-Krom.

Due to concerns of safety and constraint resources, only two projects from our KKF 2014 resolution did not happen as planned such as “hosting the conferences in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand” and the “Update Book Project.” We will look into these unfinished items and implement where possible with our 2015 plan.

KKF Members Attending Year-end Meeting in Long Beach

Over 100 members and supporters headed to our annual KKF End of Year conference in Long Beach, California from 12-14 December to contribute ideas and recommendation to the work of KKF in 2015. Some of these suggestions are as follows:

1.  INTERNATIONAL BEST PRACTICES

  • Strengthen Interrelationships among the KKF and other international NGOs including Indigenous NGOs;
  • Accelerate the Self-Determination Goal through the UN Human Rights Charter & Treaty Bodies and the UN Indigenous mechanisms;
  • Work Smartly and Strategically to increase global representation with the international agencies of the United Nations, the European Union and particularly the ASEAN and
  • Do advocacy work at national parliamentary assembly with elected representatives in their respective country. 
  • Maintain the KKF’s Facebook with separate pages by the Youth’s Committee for informational, educational and entertainment purposes;
  • Emphasize succession planning to the top leaders of the KKF, restructuring and adding responsibilities to additional members of the Board of Directors with focus on the Khmer-Krom Information and Media and the Khmer-Krom Youth;
  • Practice simple financial management and responsibilities in accordance with the accounting rules;
  • Update Book Project;
  • Write White Paper Project;
  • Establish Association of Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monks in the United States of America and have a joint annual meeting with the KKF.
  • Host the United Flower Festival (Bon Phka) in Phnom Penh, together with the annual meeting of the KKF;
  • Hold meetings with Khmer–Krom Communities.

2.   KAMPUCHEA-KROM BEST PRACTICES

  • Maintain the KKF’s Facebook with separate pages by the Youth’s Committee for informational, educational and entertainment purposes;
  • Emphasize succession planning to the top leaders of the KKF, restructuring and adding responsibilities to additional members of the Board of Directors with focus on the Khmer-Krom Information and Media and the Khmer-Krom Youth;
  • Practice simple financial management and responsibilities in accordance with the accounting rules;
  • Update Book Project;
  • Write White Paper Project;
  • Establish Association of Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monks in the United States of America and have a joint annual meeting with the KKF.

3.  CAMBODIA and REGIONAL BEST PRACTICES

  • Host the United Flower Festival (Bon Phka) in Phnom Penh, together with the annual meeting of the KKF;
  • Hold meetings with Khmer–Krom Communities.

The KKF 2015 plan of action reaffirms our commitment in focusing on the promotion and protection of the fundamental rights of millions of voiceless Khmer-Krom people living in Kampuchea-Krom. The fact that our plans are publicly announced shows that KKF has no hidden agenda. Khmer Krom returning to visit their ancestral homelands should not be intimated and questioned by Vietnam authorities about KKF activities.

From an organization that was formed in the basement by a group of elders wanting the world to know the suffering of their people to one that the world knows, recognizes and respected as a true voice of the Khmer-Krom people is a wonderful pride that every member and supporter of KKF should be proud of.

As Khmer-Krom, we will never give up our hope and unity to protect and preserve our identity as indigenous peoples living on our ancestral lands. Regardless of how big the obstacle or the challenge may be, we will work together to achieve our KKF’s 2015 resolution and continue our march into Kampuchea-Krom to bring the torch of freedom, justice and democracy into the destined hands of our Khmer-Krom people.

As we celebrate this holiday season and the arrival of the New Year, on behalf of KKF, I would like to wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.

In particularly, may the New Year bring our beloved Khmer-Krom FREEDOM-JUSTICE-DEMOCRACY.

Yours Sincerely,

 

Thach Ngoc Thach

President, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation

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