Friday, December 16, 2011

Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monk Defrocked By Vietnam Authority

From Pennsauken, USA on 14 December 2011 Khmers Kampuchea - Krom Federation released that a Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monk, named Venerable Ly Sol is 19 years old who staying at Tasek temple , Khleang province (Soc Trang) in Kampuchea Krom (Southern of Vietnam) was forced to defrock at his own temple by Vietnamese goverment.
Below is a PRESS RELEASE published by Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation

When people around the world were enjoying the International Human Rights Day to commemorate the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monk, named Venerable Ly Sol, in Vietnam was forced to defrock at his own temple. The Vietnam authority accused him with the alleged crime of intention to rape a woman who has an age as his grandmother.

At 1:00 pm, on December 11, 2011, the Vietnam authority ordered a Khmer-Krom Buddhist monk, named Thach Houl, who is a member of the Congress of Vietnam and also the vice-president of the Patriotic United Buddhist Association (Hội Đoàn Kết Sư Sải Yêu Nước) of Soc Trang province, to defrock Venerable Ly Sol at Tra Set temple in Tra Set commune, Vinh Hai village, Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province, without the agreement of the Abbot and other Buddhist monks at Tra Set temple.

Venerable Ly Sol is 19 years old. He has been ordained to be a Buddhist monk for almost 4 years. According to Venerable Ly Sol, about 10 days ago, at 8:00 pm, he was thirsty so he went down to the kitchen to looking for water. In that night, Mrs. Danh Thi Tu, over sixty years old was sleeping in the kitchen. When she heard someone was walking to the Kitchen, she scared and screamed. Venerable Ly Sol came to her and used his one hand (Venerable Ly Sol is handicap) cover her mouth and told her that it was him, she should not scare. The Buddhist monks and the people talked about that incident as just a normal scaring case by an old woman living at the temple for almost four years. Unfortunately, when the local Vietnamese authority heard about it, they started framing a case to defrock Venerable Ly Sol.

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 defrock him.

After being defrocked injustice, Venerable Ly Sol still stays at the temple. He said that even he is not allowed to wear the Buddhist robe as a Buddhist monk, but his mind and heart still believes he is a Buddhist monk. He still wants to be a Buddhist monk if he is allowed by the Vietnam Authority.

The Vietnam authority continues to fabricate the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks at Tra Set temple because the Buddhist monks of this temple do not join the Patriotic United Buddhist Association that is set up by the Vietnamese government to control the way Khmer-Krom practicing their Theravada Buddhism. Moreover, in 2007, one of the Buddhist monks, Venerable Kim Moul, from this temple, was leading a peaceful demonstration to demand for religious freedom. Venerable Kim Moul was arrested, defrocked, and imprisoned for 2 years. After he was released, he escaped to Thailand via Cambodia and later was granted Asylum to live in Sweden. In 2010, he was re-ordained as a Buddhist monk while attending the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

Prior to April 30, 1975, the Khmer-Krom people had their own Buddhist Associations without interfering from the government. When the Vietnamese communist took over their homeland, the Vietnamese government dispersed the Khmer-Krom Theravada Buddhist Associations and forced 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).

Currently, the Vietnam Authority successfully forced most of the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks to join the Patriotic United Buddhist Association. Some Buddhist monks refuse to join and are facing the oppression from the Vietnam authority, just like the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks at the Tra Set temple.

Vietnam allows the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks to become its Congress members as the case of Venerable Thach Houl. This way, the Vietnamese government can use the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks who work for the government to oppress their own fellow Buddhist monks. Vietnam also uses those monks to represent for the Khmer-Krom to propagate about the “religious freedom” that Vietnam currently has.

The Vietnamese government now even embeds its agents in most of the Khmer-Krom temples to monitor the activities of the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks. Thus, it makes the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks living in FEAR and really scares to talk about their rights to freely practice their Theravada Buddhism because they may be arrested. All the activities of the Khmer-Krom rituals must ask for the permission from the Vietnam authority. The Khmer-Krom men even have to ask for the permission to be ordained as Buddhist monks.

In this regards, we would like to ask for your assistance to:

•Urge Vietnam to allow Venerable Ly Sol to be re-ordained as a Buddhist monk.

•Urge Vietnam to allow the Khmer-Krom to freely practice their Theravada Buddhism. They should not need to ask for permission even just to organize a simple Buddhist ritual.

•Remind Vietnam that religious freedom is a right, not a privilege granted by government.

•Urge Vietnam to allow the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks to form an independent Theravada Buddhist organization to promote their rich and unique history, religion and culture.
Originally posted at:

Yours sincerely,

Thach Ngoc Thach

KKF President

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. 
Originally posted at:

Yours sincerely,


Thach Ngoc Thach

KKF President

Ethnic gold winner still to peak

HA NOI — Young karate athlete Thach Thi Trang surprised her coaching staff by boosting team morale with a win in the women’s kumite (combat) 68kg category at the 26th SEA Games just finished in Indonesia. 
 Trang’s victory was all the more meaningful because she defeated the host country’s Mardiah Nasution in the final round in spite of a bloody nose.

There was a pause in the match as doctors tried to stop the bleeding after Nasution punched her in the face. The medical team spent a great deal of time and effort but had difficulty stopping the flow of blood and they were worried that Thanh wouldn’t be able to finish the match, forcing a forfeit. Finally she was able to go on in spite of the injury.

“I am very happy to take the gold medal in my first appearance at the SEA Games. This is exactly what I dared not to think of. I understand that people have high expectations of me so I just want to carry on with the competition without thinking about anything else,” Trang said.

Trang began her path to glory with a big stroke of luck as she was moved straight to the next round without taking part in the preliminary round. In the semi-final, she faced a huge obstacle: Malaysian Jamalliah Jamaludin, the defending champion and also the silver medallist at the 16th Asian Games (ASIAD) in China.

Coach Le Cong said: “Trang is slow and is bad at handling contingencies while the Malaysian athlete has much more experience. We encouraged her will and spirit by saying: ‘You are the first ethnic Khmer person taking part in the SEA Games and you could be the first to receive a medal. You fight not only for yourself but also for your compatriots’.”

Trang found the initiative to attack her rival with constant movements and powerful punches and kicks for a 2-0 win. After her triumph, she changed her tactics under the instruction her coach for a more comfortable final round.

The psychological situation helped Trang overcome the significant pressure imposed by the Indonesian supporters at the Tennis Indoor Stadium. She quickly took a seven point lead to ensure victory.

After training Trang for many years, the coach knows her strong and weak points. In reference to ways she could improve in the future, Cong said: “At present, Trang only competes against Southeast Asian rivals. If she wants to take part in Asian tournaments like ASIAD 16 gold medallist Le Bich Phuong and runner-up Vu Thi Nguyet Anh, she has to improve her speed and capability to react to the unexpected as well as gain experience by participating in many competitions.”

Trang was born into a poor Khmer family of seven children in the southern province of Tra Vinh.At the age 13, she started to practise karate with friends in the village without asking her parents’ permission. A few months later, she had to tell them the truth after bringing home a gold medal from a competition organised by the province. Her endeavour and unstoppable practice were repaid with a position in the Viet Nam national karate team in 2008. Trang grabbed a silver medal at her first showing in the South Korea Open International Karate Championship in 2010. — VNS 
Originally posted at:

Vietnam Exploits the Khmer-Krom Culture and Sport for Tourism

From December 2-4, 2011, Vietnam organized the Fifth Festival Culture, Sport and Tourist of the Khmer in South Vietnam to lure the tourists. This festival is organized every three years. The fifth festival is organized in Krabao (Tinh Bien) district, Mouth Chrouk (An Giang) province.
In three days festival, it covered many activities, such as: Boat Racing, Ox racing, exhibition, cultural shows, Khmer music shows, etc. There were twelve Khmer-Krom delegations from difference provinces attending this event. This year, there was a Khmer-Krom delegation from Toul Ta Mouk (Binh Phuoc) province which is not from the Mekong Delta region. There are very few Khmer-Krom still living in Toul Ta Mouk province because it locates near the border of Kampuchea-Krom and the Champa Kingdom (currently a central part of Vietnam).
As a normal tourist attending this festival, they will think that it is very nice of the Vietnamese government organizing this festival to help the Khmer-Krom having opportunity to show off their culture, sport, and especially their Khmer identity.
The Voice of Kampuchea-Krom Radio had interviewed some Khmer-Krom who attended this festival. They were happy to see the festival like this, but they pointed out that this festival is just used to polish the regime’s propaganda to the world:
• This is a Khmer festival, but most of the organizers, MCs, even some performers are Vietnamese.
• The Banners are in Vietnamese. Some banners have the Khmer language to indicate what province the Khmer-Krom delegation is from, but the names of the provinces pronounce as Vietnamese. For example, instead of calling the Preah Trapeang in Khmer language, they wrote in Khmer as Tra Vinh. Same as other provinces.
• It is a festival for Khmer-Krom to enjoy, but Vietnamese organizers sell tickets for Ox racing. The Khmer-Krom people are poor, so most of them don’t have money to buy the ticket to enjoy their traditional Ox racing sport. Moreover, more than half of the ox racing teams is Vietnamese, not the Khmer-Krom teams.
• Vietnamese government sent many polices to patrol for the safety, but when the Khmer-Krom women’s necklaces were robbed, none of the thief were caught and let the Khmer-Krom women suffered.
If Vietnamese government has a good heart to help Khmer-Krom to preserve their culture and traditional sports, just simply let the Khmer-Krom freely organize their own festivals. Please do not interfere, Vietnamize, and use the Khmer-Krom as puppet performers to entertain the tourists for the Vietnamese government’s benefits. Originally posted at:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When Vietnam has a Thanksgiving Day to Thank Khmer-Krom

Brief history of the Thanksgiving Day in America
In September 1620, there were 102 passengers on a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, to seek for a new home in the New World, so they could freely practice their faith and own a prosperity lands. After a long trip on the sea, faced a brutal winter, and suffered from outbreaks of the contagious disease, only half of the Mayflower’s passengers survived and moved ashore in Massachusetts in March 2011. They were fortunate to be greeted in English by an Abenaki Indian and later introduced to another Native American, Squanto, who could speak English. Squanto taught them how to cultivate corn, catch fish in rivers, extract sap from maple tree, and avoid poisonous plants.
In November 1621, the Pilgrims successfully harvested their first corn. They organized a celebratory feast and invited the Native American to celebrate the American’s “first Thanksgiving” to the Native American. In December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill into law making Thanksgiving a national holiday on the fourth Thursday in November of each year.
Brief history of the First Present of the Vietnamese in Kampuchea-Krom
In 1620, North Vietnam was still divided and controlled by Trinh Lord (Upper North) and Nguyen Lord (Lower North). With the pressure from the North by the Trinh Lord and constant attacks from the South by Champa in efforts to reclaim its land, the Nguyen Lord tactically presented his daughter, Princess Ngoc Van, to the Cambodian King, King Chey Chetha II. At that time, King Chey Chettha was 42 years old and already married. King Chey Chettha accepted the offering from Nguyen Lord to build a relationship of mutual interest between Cambodia and Nguyen Lord. King Chey Chettha thought that with his relationship with Nguyen Lord, Siam would give up their influence and encroachment on Cambodia territory. Unfortunately, he did not know that his political marriage with the Vietnamese princess started to fall into the Nguyen Lord’s strategy called the “March to the South”
In 1623, aided by Queen Ngoc Van’s intervention, the Nguyen warlord sent Vietnamese delegates to ask the Court of Udong to grant permission for the Vietnamese people to conduct trade in Preah Sourkea (Baria), Prei Nokor (Sai Gon), and Chonva Tropeang (Bien Hoa) provinces. Obliged through his marriage, King Chey Chettha II gave trade permission and allowed the Vietnamese people temporary settlement in those provinces.
This was the first time that the Vietnamese obtained a foothold in Kampuchea-Krom and began their ambitious expansion plans toward the South in which the Kingdom of Champa became their first target.
The Fabricated and Distorted History by the Vietnamese Government
In recent years, the Vietnamese Association of Historical Sciences published a book entitled Brief History of the Southwestern Territory of Vietnam, in which many historical “facts” were fabricated and distorted with regard to the history of the indigenous Khmer-Krom peoples in Kampuchea-Krom.
Vietnam keeps claiming that Kampuchea-Krom was a wasted vast land. The Vietnamese ancestors came to cultivate this land and have made it becoming the prosperous land as today. Vietnam totally ignores the facts that the Khmer-Krom people have lived on their ancestral lands way before the Vietnamese arrived. Their temples and historical sites were built in this land over thousand years. If Kampuchea-Krom have Khmer-Krom living there before Vietnamese arrived, it could not be claimed that this land has no owner. If this land had no owner, the Cham people in Champa Kingdom already moved down to live on this land while the Nguyen Lord had been gradually annexed their Kingdom.
It is time for the Vietnamese historian and government to start accepting the truth just like the western historians and government. In America, Australia, Canada, students are allowed to learn about the true history of their countries. Teach the true history does not mean that it would invoke the revenge, but it actually does to prevent the history to be repeated. Unfortunately, the Vietnamese government still does not think that way. They believe in using force to threaten the Khmer-Krom students to learn the fabricated history that they wrote for Khmer-Krom students to study.
Eliminating the Khmer-Krom Identity
Vietnam signed to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) on September 13, 2007, but Vietnam refused to accept the existence of the Indigenous Peoples in Vietnam and just called them as “ethnic minority” to tactically refusing implementing the rights of the Indigenous Peoples in Vietnam.
Vietnam does not allow Khmer-Krom people to call be called as “Khmer-Krom”. The tourists will not know that the temple or village of the “ethnic Khmer minority” that they are visiting belong to the Khmer-Krom.
Since 2004, the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom (KKF) has brought the Khmer-Krom’s issues regarding to the basic human rights violations committed by the Vietnamese government to the International spotlight at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). The Vietnamese government accused the KKF for presenting the falsity evident to the forum and refused to have the open dialog to resolve the Khmer-Krom’s issues.
Under pressure from international community and governments, Vietnam has started implement some programs to help the Khmer-Krom. Vietnam allows for Khmer-Krom students to study their own language about 2 to 3 hours a week in their boarding schools that have only the Khmer-Krom students study. Not all the public schools where the Khmer-Krom people habitat have their language classes.
Vietnam also has Khmer program on its propaganda television channel. Even the program is broadcasted in Khmer for the Khmer-Krom to watch, but the Vietnamese government does not allow the Khmer-Krom reporters to call the names of their villages, districts, or provinces in their own language, but in Vietnamese. It shows that the Vietnamese government is implementing a hidden agenda to brainwash the Khmer-Krom younger generation to forget calling their villages, districts, and provinces in their own language, and to gradually erasing their identity and history.
When will Vietnam Accept the Truth?
Vietnam always says that the Vietnamese and the Khmer-Krom people have “thousand years of friendship”. In reality, the friendship between the Vietnamese and the Khmer-Krom is a one way friendship. The Khmer-Krom has no voice in their relationship with the Vietnamese.
Vietnam has received billion dollars from extracting the crude oils from Kampuchea-Krom’s sea in O-Kap (Vung Tau) province. The Khmer-Krom farmers in Mekong Delta have helped Vietnam become the second country of the world in exporting rice. Vietnam has gained million dollars from exploiting the Khmer-Krom temples, sacred sites, tradition sports (boat racing, ox racing), and Khmer-Krom cultural events, to lure the foreign tourists visiting Mekong Delta. Unfortunately, the Khmer-Krom people just receive very little benefits that the Vietnamese government has provided to them. Whatever Vietnam helps Khmer-Krom, Vietnam uses it to propagate to the world that Vietnam helps the Khmer-Krom.
The Khmer-Krom youths keep dropping out school to look for works in big cities. The Khmer-Krom people are still the poorest of the poor in Mekong Delta.
The true friendship between the Vietnamese and the Khmer-Krom people only could be achieved if it is built upon honesty for constructional dialogs and respect for the truth. The Khmer-Krom people have contributed too much to the current economy of Vietnam and have made Mekong Delta to be one of the attractive places for foreigners coming to invest and visit.
Unfortunately, the Khmer-Krom people still live in fear and have no basic rights as mentioned in the Vietnam constitution or UNDRIP.
When would Vietnam recognize a day as a Thanksgiving Day to honestly and truthfully thank the Khmer-Krom as its national holiday so the Khmer-Krom can live freely from fear and oppression?
Published by:

Friday, November 18, 2011

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston Visits Vietnam

On behalf of the Khmer-Krom Canadian community of Canada, the Presidents of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation Youth Committee in Ontario (Jeffery Kim), Quebec (Samnang Om), Alberta (Phekdey Son), wrote a joint letter to His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada prior to his trip visiting Vietnam from November 16 – 19, 2011.
Besides wishing His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston having a successful trip to Vietnam, they introduced to the Excellency about who Indigenous Khmer-Krom Peoples are and the human rights violations that the Khmer-Krom people are facing:
- The government of Vietnam continues to fabricate fault history about the Khmer-Krom people and their homeland. The local Khmer-Krom people are being prohibited from learning about their true history and identity.
- The original names of the Khmer-Krom people’s towns and villages have been renamed to Vietnamese in order to erase the Khmer-Krom history.
- Khmer-Krom people’s natural resources such as farmlands, waterways, oil and gas, forests, etc. have been exploited by the State, without any consultation or compensations from the local Khmer-Krom people who have lived on their ancestral land for centuries.
- Khmer-Krom children and youth have been deprived of their future, living under environment of institutional discrimination and inadequate access to higher education and job opportunities.
- Khmer-Krom people have been stripped of their rights to assembly, expression, and media.
They urged the Excellency to:
- Call on Vietnam to live up to its obligations by respecting Khmer-Krom people’s rights and freedom.
- Call on Vietnam to follow the successes of multiculturalism model in Canada whereby all citizens regardless of one’s background is equal in status and in rights.
- Assist in promoting education for Khmer-Krom youths by providing Canada’s scholarship to local Khmer-Krom students to study in Canada.
- Assist in promoting Khmer-Krom culture by having local Khmer-Krom artists to perform show in Canada.
- Visit to Khmer-Krom local towns and villages. Published by:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Khmer-Krom Cultural Festival Marginalized by Vietnam Rice Festival

Every year, the Indigenous Khmer-Krom Peoples in Mekong Delta organize the Ork Ombok Festival to worship the moon on the 15th of the 10th lunar month. It is the time that the Khmer-Krom starts harvesting their rice. During this time, the Khmer-Krom people also celebrate the Pronang Touk Ngo (Boat Racing) Festival, to commemorate their ancestor’s navy troops that won the battles against their enemy to protect their homeland.
In recent years, the Vietnamese government has exploited the Boat Racing Festival to attract tourists. The Vietnamese government makes lots of profits from providing the tourist services and advertisement. The Khmer-Krom paddlers don’t gain a penny from those profits, except the winning teams may get some awards.
From November 8-11, 2011, Vietnam organized the 2nd Rice Festival in Khleang (Soc Trang) province at the same time with the Khmer-Krom Boat Racing Festival and pretends to calling it as a coincident. The Khmer-Krom people are not happy because the Boat Racing Festival is their Cultural Festival participating and organizing by their own Khmer-Krom. Unfortunately, it is now completely under controlled, organized, and marginalized by the Vietnamese government to serve its propaganda policies and benefits.
Most of the Khmer-Krom people are farmers. They help producing rice to make Vietnam becoming the 2nd country of the world in exporting rice. Unfortunately, the world does not know that some of the Khmer-Krom farmers do not have rice to eat. They are the poorest of the poor people in Mekong Delta.
In Vietnam, the Vietnamese government’s rice export companies control the rice price. They lower the rice price in the harvest season. The Khmer-Krom farmers have no choice to sell their rice below the market price in order to have money to pay for their debt that they borrow money to buy fertilizers and for other expenses. After selling all their rice, some Khmer-Krom farmers do not have enough money to pay for their debt and end up selling their farmlands to the Vietnamese. As landless farmers, they live in poverty.
The tourists attended the Vietnam 2nd Rice Festival do not know that the Rice that Vietnam exports are produced by the Khmer-Krom’s tears and sweats. Many rosy pictures have been painted over the suffering of the Khmer-Krom, but the world has been misled and the Khmer-Krom people are suffering terribly as today. Published by:

Water, Rice festivals in Soc Trang

Oc Om Boc, the annual Water Festival of the Khmer people, will this year coincide with the Vietnam Rice Festival in Soc Trang Province, home to a large community of the ethnic minority group.
The nation’s second Rice Festival will take place in the Mekong Delta province on November 8-11 this year to glorify the commodity, which is the lifeblood of the nation.

Oc Om Boc, the most important annual event of the ethnic minority group, is dedicated to the moon and organized in the province every year on the fifteenth day of the tenth lunar month. The main purpose of the ritualistic ceremony is to pray to the Moon God for abundant crops and fish from the rivers, as well as good health for villagers.
The three-day cultural event features a traditional boat race with dozens of long and narrow boats competing. The navigation of the boat, called ghe ngo, requires great skills because it can easily be capsized. The boat is long enough for about 40 rowers sitting in two lines and the team leader. The final sees dozens of ghe ngo race to the finish line amidst cheers, claps and clamor of the thousands of people lined up on the banks in Soc Trang City.
The race attracts visitors from both Soc Trang and other provinces and cities.
The second Vietnam Rice Festival, hosted by Soc Trang, will include exhibitions, fairs, seminars and scientific workshops; activities to promote investment, trade and business relations among domestic and foreign partners, cultural and sports activities which are typical of the southern province. 

Involved in organizing the national event are the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development; Industry and Trade; Culture, Sport and Tourism; Information and Communications; Vietnam Food Association and other Government agencies.
Organizers have confirmed that more than 20 countries have agreed to join the festival, including Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Russia, Thailand and the U.S. The foreign partners will take part in food pavilions, exhibitions, cultural activities and workshops.
Soc Trang City, the capital of the province, is 60 kilometers south of Can Tho City – the Mekong Delta’s hub. Some of the places to visit are Kh’leng Pagoda, Clay Pagoda, Im Som Rong Pagoda and the Khmer Museum. Soc Trang is 230 kilometers from HCMC. Published by:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Mekong Delta - new centre of attraction in Vietnam

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The year 2010 was a successful year for tourism in the Mekong Delta: 1,46 million international visitors were counted in the region, a 20 percent increase compared to the previous year. Therefore a third of all foreign Vietnam travellers visit the vast Mekong Delta.
The estuary with its countless river channels has a lot to offer. Most famous are the floating markets of Cai Be and Cai Rang (near Can Tho). But there are other attractions too: the floating villages near Long Xuyen and Chau Doc, Khmer settlements and Khmer pagodas on the way to Cambodia and the fish farms under floating houses where a type of catfish is farmed, which is especially known in Europe.
The best way to get to know the life in the Mekong Delta is on board a river cruiser. Thousands of waterways form a labyrinth of major currents and secluded canals which form the heart of the region. The views from the river are impressive: the traffic of boats, traditional wooden freight ships, dockyards and manufactories as well as the lush vegetation and landscape along the canals. It is not comparable with a journey by car along streets lined with new buildings and busy villages.
A well kept secret is charming Sa Dec - a small town which so far is far away from tourism crowds. The charming town still has a lot of colonial architecture, in particular the old market, a church and many old villas and trader's houses. It is one of the few places in Vietnam where people can peacefully stroll along the river side promenade or enjoy a traditional Vietnamese coffee. A highlight of Sa Dec are the original settings from Margeruite Duras' novel "The lover" which can be visited. Another attraction of the region is a gorgeous flower village, where people farm flowers and plants for the local markets.
Besides colourful and cultural landscapes of abundant fruit orchards and rice fields, there is a wide range of natural sights such as national parks, the bird sanctuary of Bang Lang or the forest of Cajeput.
Many travellers only take a daytour from Saigon to Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta. They are missing out on the true experience of the delta and spend most of the day travelling in a bus to get there and back. Two or more days in the region offer the opportunity to explore the beautiful river landscape and the life beside the river.
The lack of infrastructure or good hotels provides a challenge for many people. Only Can Tho and Chau Doc offer hotels with international standards. This is another reason why cruise vessels are the perfect way to travel in the Mekong Delta. Besides the conventional cruises there are also operators which offer longer trips (two to four days) on small but very comfortalbe boats.
The geographical position of the Mekong Delta between Saigon and the holiday island of Phu Quoc as well as Cambodia is ideal for combining a trip in the delta with an extention to those places. Phnom Penh can be reached by boat, Phu Quoc with daily flights from Can Tho or a ferry from Rach Gia. Phu Quoc can be reached within only two days, including an exploration of the colourful Mekong Delta.
The company Mekong Eyes specialises on exclusive tours in the Mekong Delta. They offer various tours and extentions on their traditionally built luxurious vessels "Mekong Eyes" (15 double or twin cabins) and "Dragon Eyes" (2 double or twin cabins). They provide all the comfort travellers need to cruise the Mekong in style.

Vietnam must do more on rights: Clinton

Published by:
HONOLULU, Hawaii: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that Vietnam must improve its human rights record if it seeks better relations as the two countries held talks on the issue.

"We have made it clear to Vietnam that if we are to develop a strategic partnership, as both nations desire, Vietnam must do more to respect and protect its citizens' rights," Clinton said at the East-West Center in Hawaii.

Clinton, who is in the tropical US state for an Asia-Pacific summit, was scheduled later Thursday to meet Vietnam's new President Truong Tan Sang.

The talks came as the United States and Vietnam closed two days of regular talks on human rights, which were held in Washington.

President Barack Obama's administration has frequently urged progress by Vietnam on human rights but it has nonetheless rapidly expanded relations, which both sides have sought amid the rise of China.

In the midst of the human rights dialog, Vietnam jailed two practitioners of the spiritual movement Falungong for beaming radio broadcasts into China.

In a joint letter coinciding with the Washington talks, human rights groups including Reporters Without Borders urged Vietnam to free dissidents such as Nguyen Tien Trung and Nguyen Van Ly.

The letter said that Vietnam should fear damaging its investment climate through the lack of freedoms.

"Businesses are becoming more aware that operating in repressive countries leads to bad press and they are under growing pressure to withhold investment in those nations," it said.

U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue

Published by:
The 16th round of the U.S. – Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue will take place in Washington, D.C. November 9 - 10.
The Human Rights Dialogue, based on the principles of equality and mutual respect, brings together government experts led by Assistant Secretary Michael Posner for the United States and Director General Hoang Chi Trung for Vietnam. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns will open the session at the State Department. These meetings will offer an opportunity to pursue in-depth and substantive discussions that can produce concrete results aimed at narrowing the differences that remain between the United States and Vietnam in the area of human rights.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ho Chi Minh = (is) Nguyen Sinh Cung ----> Many Vietnamese changed their last names to Nguyen, because they are afraid of . . .

About Ho Chi Minh 
Ho' Birth name Nguyen Sinh Cung. Ho Chi Minh translates to 'He Who Enlightens'.
Mini biography: Born 19 May 1890 in the village of Kim Lien in Annam, in central Vietnam.
1911 - He finds work as a kitchen hand on a French steamer travelling from Saigon to Marseilles.
1919 - Ho returns to France, taking the name Nguyen Ai Quoc.
1920 - Ho is a founding member of the French Communist Party
1922 - Ho travels to Moscow for the fourth congress of the Communist International
1923 - Ho returns to Moscow for training in Marxism and revolutionary techniques at the University of the Toilers of the East.
1924 - Ho travels to Guangzhou (Canton) in southern China, a stronghold of the Chinese communists, to act as an interpreter for a Soviet mission
1927 - The communists are expelled from Guangzhou in April following a coup by Chiang Kai-shek. Ho finds refuge in the Soviet Union.
1930 - Ho presides over the founding of a unified Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) at a conference of the Thanh Nein in Hong Kong on 3 February. A program of party objectives drafted by Ho is approved by the conference.
The objectives include the overthrow of "French imperialism, feudalism, and the reactionary Vietnamese capitalist class"
In September 1930 the French respond, sending in Foreign Legion troops to suppress the rebellion. Up to 10,000 are killed. More than 1,000 suspected communists and rebels are arrested. Four hundred are given long prison sentences. Eighty, including some party leaders, are executed. Ho is condemned in absentia to death. He seeks refuge in Hong Kong and again operates as a representative of the Comintern in Southeast Asia.
By 1932 there are more than 10,000 political prisoners held in Vietnam's jails.
1931 - Ho is arrested in Hong Kong by the British police during a crackdown on political revolutionaries.
1932 - Ho is released from in prison. He flees Hong Kong and travels to Moscow, where he will spend much of the next seven years studying at Lenin Institute.
1938 - Ho returns to China and serves as an adviser to the Red Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
1939 - In August, on the eve of the Second World War, Germany and the Soviet Union sign a nonaggression pact. The French Government immediately bans the French Communist Party.
1939 - September 22, the Japanese troops invade Vietnam.
1941 - In January Ho enters Vietnam for the first time in 30 years and organises the Vietnam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi (League for the Independence of Vietnam), or Viet Minh.
At the same time, the Viet Minh begin a guerilla war against Japanese forces occupying Vietnam.
The Viet Minh are initially armed by the Chinese nationalists. Funding and assistance is subsequently provided by the Chinese Communist Party. In 1965 the Soviet Union also begins to provide military aid.
1942 - In August, while in southern China to meet with Chinese Communist Party officials, Ho is arrested by the Chinese nationalist government and imprisoned for two years.
1944 - In September Ho is allowed to return to Vietnam.
During the year, and continuing into 1945, famine spreads across Vietnam. Between 1.5 and two million die of starvation.
1945 - In January, with the Second World War drawing to a close, Ho travels to southern China to meet with US and Free French forces stationed there.
*** The power balance in Vietnam takes a dramatic turn on 9 March when the Japanese disarm the French forces and seize full administrative control of the country. The 1883 treaty establishing Indochina (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) as a French protectorate is revoked and Vietnam is declared independent under Japanese tutelage. The ICP sees its opportunity and begins to plan for a general uprising.
However, while the communists are able to secure most of the regional and rural areas in the North, provinces around Saigon remain out of their control. These areas are held by the Hao Hao, a Buddhist sect that favours regional autonomy for the South over integration in a communist-led national government.
On 6 August the US drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. Nagasaki is bombed on 9 August. On 13 August the ICP issues its order for a general uprising. Ho is elected head of a National Liberation Committee created to serve as a provisional government. Two days later Japanese Emperor Hirohito surrenders unconditionally, ending the Second World War.
On 17 August Ho appeals to the Vietnamese people to rise in revolution. The Viet Minh take control of Hanoi the following day. Saigon falls to the Viet Minh on 25 August.
*** On 28 August the Viet Minh announce the formation of the provisional government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV - North Vietnam) with Ho as president and minister of foreign affairs. Ho will remain as president of the DRV until his death in 1969.
Japan formally surrenders on 2 September 1945. The same day, half a million people gather in Hanoi to hear Ho read the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, based on the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. However, the situation remains volatile.
In the north, Chinese nationalist forces start to encroach. In the south, the French begin to reassert control, taking Saigon in October. Within three months they have reoccupied all of southern Vietnam.
On 20 November, following clashes between French and Vietnamese soldiers, a French cruiser opens fire on the port of Haiphong, on the Red River Delta 90 km east of Hanoi. Almost 6,000 Vietnamese are killed.
On 19 December the French order Viet Minh forces in the Hanoi area to lay down their arms and relinquish their authority. The Viet Minh respond with a counterattack, beginning the First Indochina War. The French soon have control of Hanoi and most provincial capitals in northern and central Vietnam. In 1947 they retake much of the DRV and consolidate their position in the south.
1948 - The Viet Minh regroup, using their estimated 250,000 troops to force the French from some captured territory and to the negotiating table. The entire country is granted nominal independence as an "associated state" within the French Union but the underlying conflict remains.
1949 - On 1 July a French-sponsored Vietnamese Government is established in Saigon.
1950 - The US recognises the Associated State of Vietnam (ASV - South Vietnam) and sends a group of military advisers to train the South Vietnamese in the use of US weapons. China responds by recognising the DRV and agreeing to provide it with limited assistance. Official recognition of the DRV by the Soviet Union soon follows.
By the end of the year the Viet Minh have taken complete control of the border region with China and re-established a northern liberated zone.
1953 - Most of the North Vietnamese countryside is now under Viet Minh control. In November the French launch a counteroffensive, capturing the strategic town of Dien Bien Phu, close to the border with Laos, in the northwest of the country. Ho indicates a willingness to consider a French peace plan.
*** 1954 - A peace conference is scheduled for 8 May, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, the European centre for the United Nations (UN). In order to maximise their leverage at the bargaining table, the Viet Minh decide to attempt to take a significant French military post just before the conference begins. The target is to be Dien Bien Phu. Over 100,000 Viet Minh troops and almost 100,000 transport workers descend on the area.
The siege of the town begins on 13 March. By 27 March the 15,000 French troops inside have been cut off from all support and supplies. The French surrender on 7 May, the day before the Geneva negotiations are set to begin. About 25,000 Vietnamese and more than 1,500 French troops have died during the siege.
The Geneva peace conference begins on 8 May as planned, continuing until 29 July when a compromise agreement is signed. Under the agreement, a provisional demarcation line is established at the 17th parallel. However, according to the agreement, the line "should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political territorial boundary."
*** All French and South Vietnamese forces are to move south of the demarcation line. All Viet Minh forces are to move to its north. France will quit the country completely. National elections to reunify the country under a single government are to be held in July 1956.
The agreement is endorsed by the DRV, France, Britain, China and the Soviet Union. The US and the ASV withhold approval. The country has been effectively partitioned into a communist North (governed by the DRV) and a noncommunist South (administered by the Vietnamese Government in Saigon). The French are gone.
*** Around 400,000 have been killed during the war, including about 75,000 from the French Union, 200,000 Viet Minh and 150,000 civilians. Nearly a million North Vietnamese, including much of economic class, have fled to the South to escape the communists.
On 24 October US President Dwight D. Eisenhower offers South Vietnam direct economic aid.
1955 - Direct US aid to South Vietnam begins in January. US military advisers begin to arrive the following month.
Meanwhile, the South Vietnamese Government launches a campaign against communist groups inside its territory. Tens of thousands are arrested. Thousands are killed. Buddhist sects in the South are also suppressed by the government.
In August the South Vietnamese Government announces that it will not participate in negotiations with the DRV over the national elections scheduled for the following year. On 26 October South Vietnam declares itself the Republic of Vietnam.
*** In the North, the communists begin a campaign to reform land ownership and eliminate landlords from rural society. The campaign, which the VWP later admits included "a number of serious errors", will result in the deaths of about 50,000 people.
The communists also become increasingly intolerant of criticism from the intellectuals and members of the bourgeoisie remaining in the North, eventually suppressing all dissent.
*** 1957 - The communists begin to step up their activities in the South. Armed communist "self-defence" groups start to emerge. Several hundred government officials are assassinated, becoming among the first in a long list. From 1957 to 1972 the communists will assassinate over 35,000 civilians.
The government of the South responds by arresting tens of thousands of suspected communists. Over 2,000 suspected communists are killed. The South and its allies also use assassination to pursue their aims, killing over 20,000.
*** 1959 - The country begins to slide into the Second Indochina War, or Vietnam War. (Among the North Vietnamese the conflict will come to be known as the 'American War'.)
*** Viet Minh troops that moved north following the Geneva agreement filter back into the South to help local communist guerrilla cells, known as the Viet Cong, establish liberated zones.
*** 1960 - On 10 November the South Vietnamese Government accuses the North of directly aiding the Viet Cong. The following month, on 20 December, the opposition movement in the South, including the Viet Cong, is united into the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (National Liberation Front - NLF). Led by noncommunists, the NLF is a broad coalition of interest groups, including communists, moderate political parties and religious groups.
*** 1961 - US President John F. Kennedy decides to increase support for the embattled government of South Vietnam, providing $US65 million worth of military equipment and $US136 million in economic aid. By December 3,200 US military personnel are stationed in Vietnam. Within 12 months the number has increased to 11,200.
The communists respond by unifying all communist armed units in the South into a single People's Liberation Armed Force (PLAF), numbering about 15,000. The NLF is also expanded to include 300,000 members. Land reform programs are begun in liberated areas. The Workers' Liberation Association of Vietnam is established in the cities.
President Kennedy will later reverse his decision and resolve instead to disentangle the US from Vietnam. However, he is assassinated before his new program can be implemented. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, will further escalate the US involvement.
1963 - In Saigon on 8 May troops from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) fire into a crowd of Buddhists demonstrating against the South Vietnamese Government, killing nine. The following month a Buddhist monk self-immolates in protest. By the end of the year he has been joined by six others. Student protest erupts at the Saigon University on 24 August.
On 1 November the government is overthrown in a US-sanctioned military coup in which the ousted president and his chief adviser are assassinated. The communists respond by calling for an escalation of the war.
*** 1964 - The communist forces (North Vietnam) - control about half the total land area and about half the population of the South. The PLAF now numbers about 115,000 troops and is supported by troops from the People's Army of Vietnam (North Vietnam) moving down the recently completed 'Ho Chi Minh Trail'.
*** By July the number of US military personnel in Vietnam has reached 16,000. In August US President Johnson approves air strikes against North Vietnamese naval bases in retaliation for an alleged attack on two US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the north coast of Vietnam.
*** In October the Soviet Union promises to provide military support for North Vietnam. The aid will amount to several hundred million dollars and include surface-to-air missiles.
Meanwhile, the government of the South becomes increasingly destabilised by a series of military and civilian coups, with power changing hands 10 times in 18 months.
1965 - In February the US begins a series of air strikes known as 'Operation Rolling Thunder' against military targets in the North. The following month 3,500 US combat troops arrive in Vietnam. By the end of the year the US force numbers 180,000. The figure grows to 350,000 in the mid-1966.
Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines also send combat troops, and between 30,000 and 40,000 Canadians enlist with the US military to serve in Vietnam.
1967 - US forces in Vietnam now number close to 500,000 and US bombing raids have extended to within 16 km of the northern border with China.
*** US President Johnson offers to stop the bombing and join North Vietnam in peace talks as soon he is assured that communist "infiltration into South Vietnam by land and by sea has stopped."
*** "If the United States Government really wants talks, it must first halt unconditionally the bombings and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam," Ho replies.
Ho dies of heart failure on 2 September in Hanoi, six years before the end of the war and the reunification of the country.
The toll of Vietnamese dead from war will be around three million, including over 1.5 million civilians, about one million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops and about 250,000 South Vietnamese military personnel.
The conflict will also spread into neighbouring Cambodia and Laos, where carpet bombing and surface offensives will result in the loss of another 950,000 lives and lead to the rise of the genocidal dictator Pol Pot and the deaths of a further one to three million.
US deaths in the Vietnam War will total 58,226 killed or missing in action. The death toll for the US allies will include about 5,000 South Koreans, as many as 1,000 Filipinos, up to 1,000 Thais, 508 Australians and 38 New Zealanders. Between 55 and 100 Canadians serving with the US will be killed.
*** An agreement on the terms for peace is reached between North Vietnam and the US in October 1972. However, when South Vietnam refuses to believe that the North is sincere, the peace negotiations falter.
Acting on advice from Henry Kissinger, who is now his national security adviser, President Nixon orders massive night-time bombing raids on Hanoi and Haiphong to demonstrate the resolve of the US and appease the doubters in the South.
*** During 11 days in December 1972 the 'Christmas Bombing' campaign sees 129 B52 bombers drop 40,000 tons of ordnance in what is said to be the largest raids of their type in history. The North Vietnamese return to the negotiating table and the bombing is stopped.
*** On 27 January 1973 all parties sign the 'Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam', the so-called 'Paris Accords'. The agreement is essentially the same as the one sabotaged by Nixon and Kissinger in 1968. It provides for a cease-fire and the full withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam. By the end of March 1973 all the US combat troops have been withdrawn.
*** Once they are convinced the US withdrawal will be permanent, the communists again start to move south, easily sweeping aside the now demoralised and ineffective South Vietnamese troops. The communists take Saigon on 30 April 1975, bringing the war finally to an end.
Vietnam is officially reunified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on 2 July 1976. Saigon is renamed Ho Chi Minh City. The VWP changes its name to the Vietnam Communist Party.
Policies aimed, in the words of Premier Pham Van Dong, "at eliminating the comprador capitalists as a class and doing away with all vestiges of feudal exploitation" are introduced in the South.
Communist "study sessions" are mandatory for all adults. Hundreds of thousands are sent to reeducation camps. Hundreds of thousands more are forced to relocate from urban areas to rural settlements. Those suspected of "counter-revolutionary" activities are sent to reform camps or forced labour camps. Around 65,000 South Vietnamese are executed. Over 100,000 die in the camps.
Between 500,000 and one million South Vietnamese flee their homeland by whatever means possible, usually by sea. Around 200,000 of these 'Boat People' perish on their voyage.
The US refuses to recognise the new republic, severs diplomatic relations with Vietnam and imposes are trade embargo.
1994 - The US lifts the trade embargo in February.
The impact of the wars on neighbouring Cambodia and Laos resulted in the loss of at least one million other lives. Ho Chi Minh was no angel. He has a pain in his ass.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

KKF Youths at the Tenth Session of UNPFII

At the Tenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) from 16-27 May 2011, the KKF youth team from around the world attended the opening ceremony at the UN General Assembly and joined other Indigenous groups in congratulating Ms. Mirna Cunningham on being selected as the Chairperson of the UNPFII.  We had the privilege in hearing statements presented by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon and Mr. Sha Zukang, the Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.  In their speeches, both stressed the importance of protecting and guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples as this is evident through the establishment of the Permanent Forum, adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the creation of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  

Our youth also attended side events hosted by various agencies; these included IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), Climate Change and Food Crisis, UNICEF’s event on the rights of indigenous children, as well as a Caucus meeting regarding water.  In addition, with the help and support of Indigenous Youth Caucus, our KKF team drafted and submitted a statement on water, which was read by Ricky Tran, newly elected co-chair of the Indigenous Youth Caucus, at the Permanent Forum. 
Many members of the KKF also took part in the celebration and recognition of the Maori people, which are the Indigenous group in New Zealand.  Movies, appetizers, and refreshments were enjoyed, as well as, expanded knowledge of other indigenous groups worldwide. 
Though not necessarily a part of UNPFII, UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) extended an invitation to KKF to give a presentation on the basic tools in forming grassroots organizations to the Hmong and Montagnard indigenous peoples. Serey Chau, who is a Director of the KKF Youth Committee, reiterated that we are not politicians; rather we are human rights activists.  Recognizing that we have a lot of similar struggles, new friendships were forged between members of KKF youth, Hmong, and Montagnard who agreed to collaborate and stand in solidarity for future endeavors.  Thus far, this is realized through the establishment of IPIV (Indigenous People in Vietnam) Forum on a social networking site, Facebook.
The KKF youth also attended a meeting with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People (Professor James Anaya) to advocate for the cessation of human rights abuse for Khmer-Krom and other indigenous groups from Asia.  Due to some administration oversights by UNPFII this year, we did not get to specifically give our statements regarding our unique cause, nevertheless, the team worked hard and each left with a greater understanding and the desire to do more to help Khmer-Krom achieve fundamental human rights. 

To say I was excited about attending the United Nations would be an under statement.  It had been a topic of debate and discussion in my undergrad studies, and to have been in the General Assembly was almost an out of body experience for me.  There was a sense of unity as I watched other indigenous groups in their traditional attire present their cases to the Forum.  We are not alone in our struggle for rights. There was great wealth of knowledge to be taken in at the United Nations and it was a great learning experience that I cannot get from any other place.  However, my fondest memories, which affected me the most while attending UNPFII, was the bond that was formed between our KKF Youth group.  We met Paul and Billy, who we are very grateful to for hosting us and providing our bodies with nourishments.  My favourite moment of the whole trip was when we sat around Billy and Paul’s dining table and each of us reflected about being Khmer-Krom.  We discussed Khmer-Krom’s history and shared our own thoughts and feelings about how each of us could contribute to move Khmer-Krom’s struggle for freedom and other inalienable rights forward. I came to UNPFII not knowing anybody but left with many great friends that I can now call family.
I’ll end with a quote that inspires me by Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." By: Lyben Lam

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

I think that by now most of us have found our way back home from our racing and any extended sightseeing, and I wanted to send this out before we all got back to our busy lives and on to the next race.
First of all, I want to say how honored and grateful I am to have been a part of our Khmer-Krom Dragons. It was truly a pleasure paddling with all of you. Each race event has its own set of opportunities and complications, and each team develops its own dynamic as the event unfolds. The process of getting to know all of you, finding common ground, working together has been the best transformation this season has ever brought. With the two races before Tampa and in the four days we spent in Tampa, we managed what some of our competitors had been working on together, for months!! This is evident from our outstanding results, and even more so from the very nice emails that have been sent around this past couple of weeks. We raced against the top teams in their own backyard, and they had a much larger base to draw from for their crews with much less, or no, cross rostering. Yet we were right there in the hunt in the two divisions in every heat! Several of our races were some of the best I have ever been a part of, and as I said at the site, that “giddy” feeling that is almost spiritual of a perfectly executed race does not come all that often. Hardware at a world event is hard to come by, and our Premier Mixed and Open crews earned our fair share. Be proud everyone! 
In addition, to all of us that were just responsible for getting in the boat and paddling, there are several individuals that I wanted to say a special thank you to for making this such a positive experience for us all.
First, to all the adults (for fear of forgetting anyone I will collectively call them “adults”) responsible for coordinating all the races we have participated in, who has spent literally hundreds of hours creating lists, spreadsheets, submit rosters, and sending emails to make sure that everything we did happened when it needed to. They have made the job easier by a hundred fold and we could not have managed without them. Thanks “adults”!!!! Also thanks for making us look good with our awesome uniform. I am looking forward to having my next one.
Thank you to the Khmers Kampuchea Krom Federation (KKF) in its entirety, the KKF Chapters of Florida, they did everything from housing, food, shuttle arrangements and the never ending cheers that carried us all the way to the finish line. A very special thanks also goes to our own KKF Chapter and the Khmer-Krom community in Washington State for their tireless support of the team for every race endeavors we pursue. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! We could not have done it without you.
Thanks also to those that got grabbed from whatever they were doing to help out with the endless “what if” scenarios while we were in Tampa.
We also owe a big thanks to our helmsmen Ken Lam and Richard Cao who both did an outstanding job maneuvering the race course. They did an absolutely awesome job from the first day of practice through the final turns of the 2000m. Your focus in the boat helped bring our crews together that much faster. The bottom line is that our ability to have confidence in each other from the front to the back of the boat allowed the paddlers to focus on their jobs, and this alone is worth seats in every race.
Finally, thanks to everyone, for that willingness to be part of a team is what creates our success. Great job everyone!
I’m looking forward to the next race. This is the best part of being a part of Khmer-Krom Dragons finding new friends, or maybe getting to know old friends a little bit better. And for me that means more than anything.
Cheers until next time! By: Cel

Friday, August 12, 2011

Khmer Krom Victims Say Tribunal Overlooked Kill Site

Published by: VOA
Lawyers for ethnic Khmer Kampuchea Krom victims of the Khmer Rouge say the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal has failed to include an extermination site in the scope of its investigations. 
“There were only three families left. They need justice, and they want to give witness.”
The Khmer Krom, who are a minority Khmer ethnic group living in today’s Vietnam and the Mekong Delta, were singled out for killing by the regime for being culturally tied to Vietnam.
Lawyers for Khmer Krom civil party applicants said investigating judges failed to release information on the Bakan execution site in Pursat province when they released details of their work earlier this week.
 Former Khmer Rouge cadres, Khoem Keng, center, Lai Sim, second from right, line up before the second trial to the top leaders of Khmer Rouge at the outside the court hall of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, June 27, 2011. Now old and infirm, four of the top surviving members of the Khmer Rouge's ruling elite are about to face justice, decades after their plans for a Communist utopia in Cambodia left an estimated 1.7 million people dead by execution, medical neglect, overwork and starvation.
Between 500 and 700 Khmer Krom were killed at the site, according to the Documentation Center of Cambodia.
On Monday, investigating judges released details of proposed crimes sites under Case 004, which victims say they need in order to file under the court’s rules for civil parties. The sites covered six different provinces, but did not include Bakan.
Sam Sokong, a lawyer representing about 100 Khmer Krom victims of the regime, said nearly all the people at the site were killed.
“There were only three families left,” he said. “They need justice, and they want to give witness.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Khmer Krom Role in Cases 003 & 004 Hangs in the Balance

Press Release
9 August 2011
Originating from Kampuchea Krom (in Vietnam’s lower Mekong Delta region), fluent in Vietnamese, and maintaining their own cultural practices, the Khmer Krom were targeted for elimination because the Khmer Rouge perceived them to be associated with the Youn.
Khmer Krom community members at Bakan District, Pursat province putting up their hands when asked if they believe that justice should be meted out for the crimes committed against their community. DC-Cam forum, June 13 2010. Photo by Rothany Srun. Courtesy of Access to Justice Asia LLP.
The United Nations-backed court established to prosecute Khmer Rouge leaders did not include the crimes against the Khmer Krom as part of the three-year investigation it concluded last year for its second trial, Case 002. Indictments charge former senior Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide against Cambodia’s Cham Muslim and ethnic Vietnamese minorities but not against the Khmer Krom.
This omission stemmed in part from the prosecution’s exclusion of the Khmer Krom from its investigation, which left the tribunal’s judges unable to pursue such charges, despite compelling evidence of mass killing and forced displacement of the Khmer Krom throughout Cambodia.
However, Khmer Krom survivors continued to press their case with the court, submitting clear and consistent evidence of the atrocities they suffered and detailing prison sites and mass graves.
These efforts helped to pave the way for more than 100 Khmer Krom survivors being formally admitted as civil parties in Case 002, some as recently as two months ago by the Pre-Trial Chamber.
These survivors are represented by lawyers at Access to Justice Asia LLP (AJA) which is led by Prof. Mahdev Mohan, and Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC) led by Sokong Sam & Chanrith Ang. Also assisting is human rights expert and University of California Berkeley’s Prof. Laurel Fletcher.
Leading watch-dogs such as the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) have raised serious questions about judicial independence and competence at the court and remain skeptical about whether new cases at the court, Cases 003 and 004, will be heard. For the Khmer Krom, it is crucial that these cases be heard as unlike Case 002 they promise the prospect of evidence of their persecution by Khmer Rouge being considered in the context of their identity as Khmers who were mistaken, corralled and eliminated for having ‘Vietnamese minds’.
On June 13 2010, co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley reached out to Khmer Krom survivors. Meeting for the first time with nearly 200 of them in Pursat province’s Bakan district, on the grounds of the Rumlech pagoda where Khmer Krom had been executed, Cayley acknowledged the need to present to the court the atrocities committed against the Khmer Krom people.
A year later on 16 June 2011, Cayley filed a Request for Investigative Action and Supplementary Submission which adds additional crimes to Case 004, including crimes committed against the Khmer Krom population in Takeo and Pursat provinces, “based primarily” on evidence submitted by their lawyers AJA and LAC.
Another statement Cayley released around the same time mentioned that the judicial investigation of Case 003 includes the DK’s “incursions into Vietnam”. Many Khmer Krom were persecuted in incursions into Kampuchea Krom (in Vietnam) and forcibly moved to Cambodia.
Under the ECCC’s internal rules, it is incumbent on the Co-Investigating Judges to examine the clear and consistent evidence that has been put before them through the supplementary submission, and to charge persons who may have committed crimes against the Khmer Krom.
Yet, a notification issued by the Co-investigating Judges yesterday, 8 August 2011, reveals that Bakan district continues to be excluded from the scope of Case 004. Nor is there any mention about the status of the Co-Prosecutor’s June 2011 request and submission for further investigations in Pursat province.
Khmer Krom survivors fear that history may repeat itself. That they may be excluded yet again, even though Cases 003 and 004 purports to relate to the very provinces and offences that concerns them.
According to Mohan, “our clients’ chance to present evidence on crimes they suffered in their heartland districts because of their identity, and beyond what they witnessed, now hangs in the balance”.
“Even though the ECCC has ruled that judges are obliged to keep victims informed throughout the proceedings – and not just at the beginning or at the end – our clients know next to nothing about what how to proceed from here. Despite written requests to re-submit their civil party applications to the court’s Victim Support Section and the Co-Investigating Judges for Cass 003/004, our clients have been kept in the dark about their status in these cases.
“Despite Mr. Cayley’s statement that certain submissions filed in Case 004 were ‘based primarily’ on their applications, our clients have no access to the Case file. Our clients are flummoxed and wonder whom they can believe and place their trust in. Nor are we, as their lawyers, in a position to advise them on how they can contribute to cases we have no sight of”.
Sam and Ang add that “Together with our clients, we have spent a great deal of our own financial, physical and emotional energies to tell the court about the atrocities which occurred in Bakan district. That there is a possibility that all this may have been for nothing and the judges do not even wish to investigate it for their upcoming cases is unthinkable for us.”
Speaking at a meeting with his lawyers last month, Khmer Krom civil party for Case 002 Meas Chanthan said, “Talk is cheap. We want to participate and we want investigations. We have asked to participate in case 003 and case 004. But we don’t know where we stand. Countless Khmer Krom were targeted here in Bakan district, worse than elsewhere in Pursat and maybe the country. So we want answers. We want investigations to be done into why they were executed.”
Tomorrow, on 11 August 2011, Cayley will speak once again to Khmer Krom survivors at Rumlech pagoda where he is expected to address the status of Case 003 and his decision to ask for further investigation in Case 004. They will be listening closely, but their patience and reserves are worn thin.
For more information, please contact:
Mahdev MOHAN, Civil Party Lawyer, Access to Justice Asia LLP 
Mr. SAM Sokong, national Civil Party Lawyer, Leal Aid of Cambodia, 012 606101
Chanrith ANG, Project Coordinator, Legal Aid of Cambodia, 012 934 802