Jun 25, 2008

Khmer Krom: Vietnam Threatening to Arrest Khmer Krom

Sample ImageVietnamese authorities threaten to arrest one Khmer Krom man and one Khmer Krom Buddhist monk currently residing in Cambodia for nonviolently protesting land reforms. 

Below is and article originally published by Radio Free Asia and translated by Khmer Krom Network:

Khmer Krom people in Cambodia are facing new threats of arrest as Vietnam attempts to continue their terrifying crack down on human right activists across the border.

According to a report by Radio Free Asia in the Vietnamese program on Monday 16th June 2008, Vietnamese authorities in Vietnam are threatening to arrest one Khmer Krom man and one Khmer Krom Buddhist monk currently residing in Cambodia.

Mr. Chau Ni and Venerable Thach Binh have been accused of inciting the recent land protests by Khmer Krom farmers in Swai Ton (renamed Tri Ton) and Kro Bao (renamed Tinh Bien) districts.

In 1978, thousands of Khmer Krom families from the above districts were forced to evacuate to Khleang province (renamed Soc Trang) by the communist Vietnamese authorities. When they were allowed to come back to their villages early 1980, many found themselves landless, most of their ancestral land and homes were confiscated by the Vietnamese government.

For centuries, wet rice farming has been Khmer Krom traditional means to sustain their livelihood. Without land, many of the Khmer Krom farmers have found themselves without a mean to survive, further marginalized and entrenched in poverty.

For over 30 years, the Khmer Krom farmers have lodged numerous appeals to the Vietnam authorities for the return of their confiscated lands but have received little sympathy or compensation from the communist government.

In the last two years, Khmer Krom farmers have stepped their campaign to demand for the return of their ancestral homelands by traveling to Prek Rukssey (renamed Can Tho) and Prey Nokor (renamed Ho Chi Minh City) to conduct peaceful demonstrations.

Instead of attempting to resolve the issues of increasing land grabbing by the Vietnamese authorities, they continue to resort to their traditional form of threat by arresting peaceful protestors and accusing them of “disturbing society”. Threats of imprisonment have been declared against Khmer Krom farmers if they continued to demand for the return of their ancestral homes.

Two Khmer Krom women, Neang Don and Neang Doun from the Swai Ton district was arrested and imprisoned since April 11 2008 for demanding the very same issue. Their fate remains unknown.

Will Mr. Chau Ni and Venerable Thach Binh be another Venerable Tim Sakhorn case?

Venerable Tim Sakhorn was arrested, defrocked and deported to Vietnam by Cambodian authorities as ordered by Vietnamese authorities on June 30, 2007.

The Khmer Krom victims are appealing to all human rights agencies and foreign governments to help remind Vietnam not to use arrest, intimidation and threats as the reasons to resolve land confiscation issues. Also that such means not only violates its constitution, international human right treaties as well the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in which Article 1 and Article 10 are particularly relevant.