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Khmer Krom: Appeals Persecution of Monks

UNPO.org, March 27, 2007

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam -- Below is an appeal issued on 20 March 2007 by Thach Ngoc Thach, President of Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and UNPO Representative, addressed to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung regarding the recent persecution of Khmer-Krom community members:

“Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I, on behalf of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) representing the indigenous Khmer-Krom people of the Mekong Delta (South Vietnam) and the Khmer Krom diasporas around the world, would like to seek your immediate attention and support in ending the unjust prosecution of Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks, in Soc Trang province in South Vietnam, for the alleged crime of organizing and participating in a peaceful demonstration partaking with 200 Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks on 8th February 2007 to request for religious freedom.

The two hundred Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks taking part in the demonstration and members of their immediate families have been and continue to be subjected to elevated acts of intimidation, harassment, and oppression as Vietnamese authorities continue to crack down on human rights related activities.

On 22nd February 2007, nine Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks were forced to disrobe:

  1. Thach Do aged 27 from Wat Ta Sek, Vinh Hoa commune, Vinh Chau district, Kleang (Soc Trang) province.
  2. Ly Hoang aged 22 from Wat Sam Rong, Phuong 5, Kleang (Soc Trang) province.
  3. Ly Tang Thong aged 23 from Wat Sam Rong, Phuong 5, Kleang (Soc Trang) province.
  4. Ly Thanh Suoi aged 28 from Wat Teok Praiy, Long Phu district, Kleang (Soc Trang) province.
  5. Thach Xuan Hien aged 21 from Wat Ta Meon, Vinh Binh commune, My Xuyen district, Kleang (Soc Trang) province.
  6. Tang Phien aged 22 from Wat Ta Meon, Vinh Binh commune, My Xuyen district, Kleang (SocTrang) province.
  7. Ly Suong aged 21 from Wat Teok Praiy, Long Phu district, Kleang (Soc Trang) province.
  8. Kim Muon from Wat Ta Sek, Vinh Hoa commune, Vinh Chau district, Kleang (Soc Trang) province.
  9. Thach Thuong aged 28 from Wat Teok Praiy, Long Phu district, Kleang (Soc Trang) province.

Currently, three disrobed monks (Kim Muon, Ly Suong, and Thach Thuong) are still imprisoned in the unknown location. The other six disrobed monks have been released but are under housearrested.

Forced disrobement of these Buddhist monks continues to be used as a discriminatory means of punishment against these monks for taking part in a non violent demonstration. It serves to further prohibit the rights of the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks and civilian to practice their religion and customs according to their indigenous ways. Such acts can also be seen as means to undermine the minority communities and to halt the important role that Buddhist monks play in preserving and passing of the Khmer-Krom language, customs and values.

From December 1982 to December 1985, Vietnamese Communist government imprisoned 195 Khmer Krom and Khmer Krom Buddhist monks in Tra Vinh province. Mr. Prime Minister, your government tortured eleven Khmer Krom and Khmer Krom Buddhist monks to death in the prison. One of them was Venerable Kim Toc Chon who was a chief Khmer Krom Buddhist monk in Tra Vinh province. Four Khmer Krom committed suicide because they refused to admit the allege crimes that your government framed for them.

Mr. Prime Minister, Vietnam is a member of the United Nations and now officially became a member of WTO. I would like to appeal for your support to:

  • Immediately release three disrobed Khmer Krom who are still imprisoned without any condition.
  • Intervene by implementing measures to end arbitrary and unlawful persecution of these Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks.
  • Allow Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks to organize their own Buddhist associations without interfering by the government.
  • Allow Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks to freely use the Internet to contact other Buddhist organizations around the world.
  • Acknowledge and allow the right of individuals and religious practitioners to take part in non violent demonstrations as a means to express their concerns and opinions.

Vietnam was removed from the Country of Particular Concerns (CPC) list by the U.S. government last year because the U.S. government believes that the religious freedom in Vietnam has improved. Unfortunately, the recently prosecution of these Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks by the Vietnamese Communist government is a clear reflection of the increasing human rights and religious violations against the Khmer-Krom people.

Mr. Prime Minister, if your government does not release our Khmer Krom Buddhist monks, the Khmer Krom in Kampuchea Krom and around the world will continue to protest until they are safely released and continue to freely practice their religion as stated in Vietnam’s Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Respectfully Yours,
Thach Ngoc Thach
President of Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation”



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