Apr 09, 2024

UNPO Condemns Vietnam's Ongoing Persecution of Khmer-Krom Community

The Khmer-Krom community is being harassed by Vietnamese authorities in Vinh Long province. The recent demolition of a sacred religious hall and the arbitrary arrest of Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks and leaders reflect a pattern of cultural erasure and religious suppression. These actions violate indigenous rights, requiring immediate international condemnation.

In a remote corner of the Mekong Delta, nestled within the Tong Hung hamlet of Loan My village, the Khmer-Krom community has been resisting against all odds to maintain its cultural heritage and religious traditions. However, Vietnamese authorities in Vinh Long province have met their aspirations with hostility and oppression, culminating in the recent demolition by governmental forces of a crucial religious hall on April 1, 2024.

This act of cultural erasure and religious prosecution is part of a systemic pattern of oppression against the Khmer-Krom people. It represents a serious violation of their indigenous rights, making evident the need for urgent international intervention.

The demolition of the religious hall is not merely the destruction of a physical structure but a targeted attack on the Khmer-Krom community's identity and heritage. It is a reminder of the ongoing struggle for indigenous rights and cultural preservation under the current Vietnamese government. 

UNPO joins efforts with The Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) in condemning both the demolition of the Religious Hall and the arrest of four Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks in Tro Nom Sek temple in Dai Tho hamlet, Long My village, Tam Binh District, Vinh Long province, on March 28, 2024, as well as the arrest of Venerable Thach Chanh Da Ra, their respected Abbot on March 26.

They were arrested under the false charge of "abusing democratic freedoms" (as per Article 331 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code) a charge frequently used against Khmer-Krom activists. Additionally, Mr. Thach Nha and Mr Tach le Sanal were also detained under the charge of "illegal arrest, detention, or imprisonment of a person" (as per Article 157) merely for aiding in the defense of the Tro Nom Sek temple during an attack by local gang members on November 22, 2023.

The background leading to this distressing incident dates back to December 3, 2023, when Vietnamese authorities and the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) a Buddhist organization controlled by the Vietnamese government, threatened to disavow Venerable Thach Chanh Da Ra as a Buddhist monk. The Tro Nom Sek temple, a Khmer-Krom sanctuary, has been coerced into VBS affiliation despite the community's deliberate decision to maintain autonomy and practice Theravada Buddhism independently.

We demand the immediate release of Venerable Thach Chanh Da Ra, Mr. Kim Khiem, Mr. Thach Ve Sanal, Mr Thach Nha and the temple’s monks. The Vietnamese authorities must respect the Khmer-Krom's right to practice their religion freely and without fear of persecution.

The actions of the Vietnamese authorities against these important spiritual leaders and their supporters are a flagrant violation of fundamental human rights. By targeting individuals engaged in peaceful religious practices and community defense, Vietnam demonstrates a blatant disregard for international human rights standards and the principles of democracy.

UNPO urges the United Nations and the international community to denounce Vietnam's ongoing persecution of the Khmer-Krom people and to demand the immediate release of the unlawfully detained individuals. As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Vietnam must uphold and protect the religious freedoms of all its citizens, including the indigenous Khmer-Krom community.