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The 5th Commemoration of the Standing Up for the Relegious Rights

On 8 February, 2007, approximately two hundred Khmer‐Krom Buddhist monks in Khleang (renamed Soc Trang) province marched for religious freedom in response to an increased state of security measures against Khmer spiritual figures. The response of the government was public defrocking in the streets, intimidating monk’s families as well as the spiritual leaders, and imprisoning five Buddhist monks without legal representation or a fair trial. As of today, the Khmer-Krom people still practice their Theravada Buddhism in FEAR. The Vietnamese government controls all the Buddhist monks leaders and has forced the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks to join the Patriotic United Buddhist Association (Hội Đoàn Kết Sư Sải Yêu Nước) under the umbrella of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS - Giáo Hội Phật Giáo Việt Nam). The VBS is under the control of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee (FFCC - Mặt Trận Tổ Quốc Việt Nam) which is a committee of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP).

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PRESS RELEASE: 14 December 2011 - Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monk Defrocked By Vietnam Authority

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Open Letter to the President of Vietnam – Mr. Truong Tan Sang on the International Human Rights Day – December 10, 2011

Embassy of Vietnam Att.: Mr. Truong Tan Sang, President of Vietnam 1233 20th St NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20036 Dear Mr. President: Today, people around the globe are celebrating the International Human Rights Day to pay tribute to all human rights defenders and commemorate the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 63 years ago. Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate you as the President of Vietnam. Hopefully, with your new leadership, the people in Vietnam, especially the Indigenous Khmer-Krom Peoples, would have a fundamental freedom as stated in the UDHR. This year, millions of people around the world - from Tunis to Madrid, from Cairo to New York – have organized peaceful demonstration movements to demand for their rights and change. As you know, “Ở đâu có áp bức, ở đó có đấu tranh - Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance” and with the current human rights violations against the human rights activists in Vietnam, I believe that the peaceful demonstrations to demand for basic rights and change would continue to happen everywhere in Vietnam. I am sure that you would not want to see that happen. I would like to bring up the following human rights violations against our people to your attention: On April 22, 2010, Mrs. Tran Thi Chau was arrested and later sentenced by the Court of Tra Vinh for two and half years in prison. Mrs. Tran Thi Chau had a land-grab dispute with the local authority at the Nhi Truong market in Nhi Truong village, Cau Ngang district, Tra Vinh province. The authority arrested her on her way to Wedding and then accused her with an allege crime to take over her land. On March 31, 2011, Mr. Chau Hen was sentenced for two years in prison by the Court of Tri Ton district, An Giang province. Mr. Chau Hen used to organize peaceful demonstrations to demand returning the Khmer-Krom’s confiscated farmlands in Tri Ton district in 2007 and 2008. Because of leading the demonstrations to exercise his rights, he was accused of public disturbance and face injustice imprisonment. On February 8, 2007, more than two hundred Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks organized a peaceful demonstration to demand for their rights to freely practice their Theravada Buddhism. Unfortunately, that peaceful protest was oppressed. Nineteen Buddhist monks was arrested and defrocked. Five Buddhist monks were sentenced to imprison. One of the Buddhist monks who were imprisoned and now live in Sweden is from Tra Set temple in Vinh Hai village, Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province. Because of that reason, this temple is treated as the “enemy” of the government. Last week, the local authority, led by Mr. QUÁCH VŨ XUÂN of Vinh Hai village framed a case to arrest Venerable Ly Sol with allege crime of raping a Khmer-Krom lady, Mrs. DANH THỊ TÚ, at 8pm in his temple, when all the monks in the temple did not sleep yet. According to Mrs. DANH THỊ TÚ, the local police forced her to finger printed on the complaint letter that was already written by the local authority to file complaint against Venerable Ly Sol so the authority has a reason to arrest and defrock him. This is an unjust action that is used to smear the good repute of our religion, especially to make people to distrust the Buddhist monks at Tra Set temple. Two weeks ago, our organization received information regarding to the land rights violation against the CheAng Krom temple at Ta On commune, Chau Lang village, Tri Ton district, An Giang province. The local authority built a school on the temple’s land without the consent of the Abbot, Buddhist monks and the committee members of this temple. The representatives of the temple ask the local government to pay the compensation for taking the temple’s land. The local authority refused to pay compensation. Near that school, there is an old Pali school that is torn out. The authority wants the temple to destroy it to make spaces for their school, but the representatives of the temple refused. They are worrying that one day the authority may use forces to destroy the Pali school and take temple’s land. When a Human Rights violation happens in Vietnam, the Khmer-Krom people have nowhere to ask for help. They have to contact our organization asking for help to raise their issue to the world to seek justice for them. In celebrating the International Human Rights Day, I would like to ask for your assistance to: • Release Mrs. Tran Thi Chau and Mr. Chau Hen without any condition because they just exercise their basic rights to demand returning his confiscated lands. • Allow our Buddhist monks to form an independent Theravada Buddhist organization to promote our rich and unique history, religion and culture. • Allow our people to have freedom of press, freedom of expression, and freedom of belief, especially freedom from FEAR. Also allow the freedom to organize the associations that are already stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (and even in Vietnam’s constitution). • Allow our people to freely defend themselves in front of the Vietnamese judicial system. Vietnam should stop accusing our people for “disturbing the Vietnamese society” and imprisoning them because of they just stand up to demand for their fundamental rights or just asking to return their confiscated lands. • Allow human rights organizations to operating in Vietnam to help protecting and promoting the basic rights of the people in Vietnam. Yours sincerely, Signed Thach Ngoc Thach KKF President

Remembering Jack Layton - A Canada's Official Opposition Leader

The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am, Monday August 22, 2011, peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. To remember the legacy of Mr. Layton, the Chairman of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation delivered his speech to the Khmer-Krom community members at the Centennial Park in Hamilton, Canada. Respected Venerable Monks, Friends and my fellow Khmer-Krom: Thank you for allowing me to speak to a large crowd at the Annual Picnic of Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Association at Centennial Park in Hamilton. I want to share with you my thoughts about an individual, who some of you might not have known because today Canada is mourning of his death and celebrating of his life. Equally important, I want to talk about him because the Khmer-Krom can draw some lessons from his example. His name is the Honourable Jack Layton, the leader of New Democratic Party of Canada. Most Canadian fondly call him Jack. He was a career politician who tirelessly fought for social justice, equality, and well-being of the "little" people. Even though his endeavors faced many failures but he never gave up. His endurance, which driven by "Hope and Optimism", has taken his party from 13 MPs in 2004 to 103 MPs in 2011 — 59 from Quebec — and making Layton leader of the Official Opposition. In his testament, Mr. Jack Layton wrote "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world". What Khmer-Krom, especially Khmer-Krom leaders, can learn from Jack Layton’s life long services to his country? Let me derive some of his lines: Politically, we must be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. Believe in grassroots power and work together as a team and solidarity. The cause is much bigger than any one leader. Personally, we should treat each other with love and not to despise those who don’t share our ideas. My friends, As you can see, Jack Layton’s life philosophy is very close to those of Khmer-Krom’s bramhma-vihara (4 Sublimes Abodes). They are metta (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic), and upekkha (equanimity). Let us say thank you to Jack Layton for reminding us these values. Let us pray for Jack Layton rest in peace. Thank you, To Kim Thong Chairman of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.
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