Dec 20, 2006

UNPO Urgent Appeal on Persecution of Khmer Krom in Vietnam

Recent incidents of harassment as well as the prohibition of access to information, including KKF material, signify a renewed clampdown on civil rights in Khmer communities in Vietnam. KKF is a Member organ of UNPO, represents the Khmer Krom and is working to improve conditions for the Khmer Krom people in the Mekong Delta

The Hague, 20 December 2006 - UNPO raises serious concern about the continuous and systematic persecution of Buddhist Monks and Khmer Krom communities in Vietnam, and has issued appeals and points of requests and recommendations to the Prime Minister of Vietnam as well as several diplomatic missions based in Hanoi. UNPO strongly condemns recent acts of injustice and gross human rights violations against the Khmer people and has called upon the Vietnamese government to end the systematic harassment of Buddhist monks and the Khmer Krom individuals. 


UNPO is receiving regular reports that Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and the larger Khmer Krom community is suffering continuous and systematic harassment and persecution, including torture, as well as severe restrictions in access to free information and media. UNPO is particularly concerned that in provinces with major Khmer Krom communities, namely Tra Vinh (Preak Trapeang), Soc Trang (Kleang), and An Giang (Mout Chrouk), the Vietnamese government has prohibited any material in the Khmer language, including Khmer music and newsletters by the human rights organization and representative body the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF).

At 6 am on 21 November 2006, the Vietnamese Authorities of Chon-Co hamlet, Pothy (An Cu) commune, Ka-Bao (Tinh Bien) district, Mout-Chrouk (An Giang) province, arrested a Khmer Krom couple; Mr. Chau Kim Sot (45 years old) and Mrs. Neang En. The couple was accused of having watched a DVD produced by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF). Subsequently, local authorities threatened to use brutal force to search the Khmer-Krom communes of Tinh Bien district to look for other individuals in possession of, or having watched, KKF DVDs. It was also reported that Venerable Som Sina was summoned to the police headquarters in the province of Soc Trang for questioning regarding the human rights movement and religious rights for the Khmer Krom.

On 05 December 2006, Khmer Krom Buddhist monks were forced out of their temple by Vietnamese authorities. At Kanhchong Kampogleav temple Vietnamese authorities (represented by police chief of Tra Vinh province Mr. Ngoc Giao, Police chief of Tieu Can district Mr. Tu Long and Police chief of O Veng Mr. Be Hai) confiscated any item labeled or related to KKF’s productions. Subsequently, Ven. Son Chanh Tha, Ven Hiep, and Ven Thea were put under house arrest.

On 11 December 2006 in the Soc Trang province, a Khmer-Krom student named Dinh Su Thy was beaten senseless for accessing human rights material on the internet.  Mr. Dinh was reported to have been tortured in custody and was not given any food or medical help following injuries inflict by the local Vietnamese authority. The same day at the Suomboo temple, Pray A Peinh, Tieu Can, Tra Vinh (Preak Trapeang) province, two chief police from Tra Vinh province, Nguyen Van Chinh and Quy Van Trinh came to Soumboo and asked the head monks Thach Sup to summon three Buddhist monks; Ven. Chau Soc Sen (born 1981), Ven. Thach Phay (born 1984) and Ven. Thach Phon, accused of listening to KKF material.

Last week, on 16 December 2006 Venerable Son Rot and Venerable Thach Rith Thy, both aged 23, from Trot Lach temple in Preak Trapeang Province were interrogated regarding use of KKF material such as DVDs and documents and accused for involvement with the KKF.

UNPO is greatly disturbed and alarmed by recent developments. In particular, UNPO condemns the persecution and accusations leveled against Khmer individuals involved in any way with KKF, a Member representative organ in UNPO and an organization recognized for its non-violence principle and its dedicated work to use legitimate means to further the aspirations of its people and promoting and defending human rights.


UNPO has urged Prime Minister of Vietnam NGUYEN TAN DUNG to intervene on the following recommendations:

to take urgent measures to end arbitrary and unlawful persecution of the Khmer Krom community, including in particular Buddhist monks;

to acknowledge the right of individuals to take part in peaceful, legitimate civil society initiatives in Vietnam, including Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) human rights  campaigns;

to address ongoing human rights violations and crimes targeting the Khmer Krom people; and ensure that alleged crimes and their perpetrators are subject to proper and impartial investigation, including police officers mentioned in above incident; and

to ensure that Vietnam upholds and respects internationally recognized human rights standards, as well as providing for freedom of speech and association and freedom of information for every individual residing in Vietnam, including an effective end to the current ban placed on KKF newsletters. 

UNPO has furthermore UNPO appealed to Embassies in Hanoi, to act on the following points:

to call upon the Vietnamese authorities to take urgent measures to end the ongoing persecution of the Khmer Krom community;

to raise the issue of human rights for Khmer Krom in Your relations with Vietnam; and

to remind Vietnam of its obligations under international human rights standards, including Articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as right to information and peaceful assembly and association.