Jun 21, 2007

Khmer Krom: Farmland Protests

Demonstrators came together in Ho Chi Min City to demand the return of farmland confiscated by the Vietnamese government. Khmer Krom representatives released an appeal for support to various Embassies.

Demonstrators came together in Ho Chi Min City to demand the return of farmland confiscated by the Vietnamese government. Khmer Krom representatives released an appeal to Embassies across the world in order to rally for support.

Below is an article written by Uk Sav Bory published by Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation:

More than 30 Khmer Kampuchea Krom people stood and demonstrated in front the office of the Vietnamese communist party central committee in Prey Nokor city (Ho Chi Minh city) this Tuesday [19 June 2007] morning. The demonstration took place after the Vietnamese authority prevented a number of Khmer Krom people from traveling by cars on Monday to hand over a petition to the Vietnamese prime minister asking for a resolution in the 500-hectare of lands owned by Khmer Krom people living in Motr Chrouk province (An Giang in Vietnamese) which were confiscated the Vietnamese authority several years ago.

An anonymous representative of the Khmer Krom people, told RFA [Radio Free Asia] over the phone from Prey Nokor city that after the Vietnamese authority forced the 120 protesters, representing more than 400 Khmer Krom families involved in the land dispute, to travel several hundred kilometers by foot from Motr Chrouk province to Prey Nokor city, a group of about 30 protesters were able to secretly reach Prey Nokor city. This group is currently preparing to hand over their petitions to the Vietnamese prime minister to ask for his help in the resolution of the confiscation of Khmer Krom people lands by the Vietnamese authority several years ago. After the confiscation of their lands, Khmer Krom people no longer have lands for farming. “Some arrived in Prey Nokor city today [20 June 2007]. Right now, they are demonstrating, we are now in front the (Vietnamese communist) party central committee (office), and we are holding a demonstration, we have paper works that will be sent Hanoi also.”

Monk Pisith Kong, an aid to the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF), said that Khmer Krom people living in Motr Choruk province have demonstrated three times already to demand a resolution for the their (confiscated) lands. In the province of Khleang (Soc Trang in Vietnamese), there were 6 to 7 demonstrations held (to protest) about land problems, and there was one demonstration held by Khmer Krom monks to demand for their freedom to practice their Buddhism religious belief. The Vietnamese authority defrocked 16 Khmer Krom monks, and sentenced 5 of them to 2 to 4-year jail term. Furthermore, the Vietnamese authority dismissed the demands made by Khmer Krom people to get back their farmlands.

Monk Pisith Kong said that the current demonstration is held to find out if the Vietnamese authority will respect its own country’s laws since it declared to the International community that it will respect the native people in Vietnam, including Khmer Krom people and Montagnard people. Monk Pisith Kong said: “During this demonstration, the KKF will ask the US government, during the visit of the Vietnamese president, Nguyen Minh Triet, to Washington DC on 22 June, to push and to pressure the Vietnamese government to respect the freedom rights of Khmer Krom people who lost their lands, as well as to request the US intervention in the savage defrocking on Khmer Krom monks, an act that is contrary to the International law.”

Khmer Krom demonstrators in Prey Nokor city said that they are persevering until the Vietnamese government accept to resolve the lack of land problems faced by Khmer Krom people living in Motr Chrouk province, as stipulated by the Vietnamese law.

The KKF said that Khmer Krom people are threatened on human rights issues, religious belief, culture, lack of farmlands, etc…, and the Vietnamese authority had posted police force around the homes of the demonstrators who are called out of their homes and taken in for questioning. In some instances, the Vietnamese authority also used violence to defrock and jail Khmer Krom monks who are demanding for the freedom rights. Even if they are faced with all these woes, Khmer Krom people are still continuing their fight in order to make their demands be known to the International community.