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?