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?
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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

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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

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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.