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
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.