Fifth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
15-26 May 2006 at UN Headquarters, New York City
Delegation: Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Speaker: Sothy Kien
Item 4: Human Rights
We are pleased with the development of the UN PFII over its five years of existence. Already in its short history, we the Khmer Krom peoples have been able to do more in our diplomacy efforts in a two week period than in our attempts over two centuries to deal in a constructive manner that transforms the culture of conflict to a culture of compassion, peace and justice.
It is evident why this is the case when listening to the tone and attitude of the Vietnamese government on Wednesday. Instead of engaging in a positive, constructive process, the government maintains its position of “resolutely rejects all groundless information” that perpetuates its policies of exclusion of our people in decision-making, elimination of our distinct culture and cosmology, and ultimately extermination.
We are here in the United Nations exercising our right of self-determination. In Vietnam it is prohibited and even punished with stories of torture and turmoil. We continue to self-identity as indigenous people and while Vietnam bans us from realizing our basic human rights in our homeland of Kampuchea Krom since time immemorial, the global community knows at the United Nations that self-identification is one of the first steps of the realization of self-determination.
We also acknowledge Mr Pasharam’s comment and repeat his quote, “How can we hope to achieve the MDGs if they refused to recognize that we are the indigenous people of Vietnam?” Identifying and accepting who are the indigenous people is the responsibility of Vietnam government. The Vietnamese government continues to use the term ethnic minorities instead of indigenous peoples even after our exchange last year where we believed we set the record straight.
We thank Willie Littlechild for his intervention relating to Vietnam and its aggressive nature towards our organizations. This type of aggression was seen by our forum members from last year in which they also accused us of proving false information and said that we had no right whatsoever to talk about Vietnam.
He also brought an important point about self identification. The Khmer Krom people have the right exercise our self-determination. We want to engage in a positive dialogue to protect and promote human rights for all cultures to live together in harmony and hope not hatred and hurtful tones.
Madam Chair we recommend the Vietnamese government have an open door policy which allows for invitation of Special Rapporteurs on Situation of Fundamental Freedom and Human Rights and other related UN Special Rapporteurs to verify and investigate reported human right violations and allow for easy, effective and constructive follow up.
The Vietnam government should create laws and regulations that are translated into positive changes in the lives of people in indigenous communities. It should also bear in mind legislation in other countries that have resulted an implementation gap witnessed in other countries by the SR .
We applaud the effort of Vietnam to create a publication focusing on the MDGs and also echo the praise from the chair Vicki Tauli Corpuz on the creation of such a tool to meet the MDGs. We would like to propose a parallel session next year as a follow up on this years theme between the Khmer Krom and the Vietnamese government together on a panel to discuss what can happen when indigenous peoples engage their governments in a spirit of cooperation to secure social justice for all peoples. Next year, we can build upon the publication to make a difference in the peoples lives in Kampuchea Krom. We hope the government will also put out their hand in peace to show how the Asia region can be a leader in the promotion and protection of human rights. We look forward to bringing the words alive off the paper with positive actions under the theme of the Second Decade in partnership. The panel will be a great follow up to the UN PFII fifth session, something that doesn’t always take place enough. Let’s be leaders together for indigenous peoples of Asia.
Our actions aren’t frivolous and vexatious. They are based on fundamental freedoms and our values as the true indigenous peoples. It is our hope that one day we may begin to work together for the common goal to meet the Millennium indigenous peoples of Kampuchea Krom. Our voice must be heard here and in our homeland.
Madam chair, we seek your help in opening a dialogue so we may begin the process of discussing the MDGs through indigenous participation to ensure effective implementation of projects tailor specific to indigenous needs whilst preserving and protecting their interests and culture.
Thank you Madam Chair.