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:
- 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.