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Vietnam Ought To Walk the Talk

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Commentary by Sothy Kien

During the Human Rights Council meeting this month, Vietnam told the world that it is ready for open dialogue on human rights.

Are they really ready to speak to the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation or is a close invitation open to only the Human Rights Council and States?

What brought on this sudden change of heart when for that last couple of years, all that Vietnam has been doing is denying that it does not violates human rights of its people, especially its indigenous peoples.

The State has repeatedly claimed that organisation such as the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation were bringing fabricated information to members of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples.

Or it is the fact that the real truth is finally coming out and Vietnam can no longer hid their ongoing human right abuses from international attention?

Certainly the recent report release by the US State Department on Vietnam portrays some very heart trenching stories of severe human rights abuses and religious violations against its indigenous peoples and its own ethnic people.

Vietnam cannot deny that it is not happening. That Buddhist monk are disrobed and imprisoned for helping to bring general human rights awareness to the Mekong Delta. That these brave human rights activists are doing what their famous father of libration did to bring independence from France.

Living in the heart of Vietnam’s oppression, Khmer Krom people know very well the promises that Vietnam makes. They know too well the double conditions that Vietnam attaches if they do return the land and the keen disappointment of yet another false promise.

It is particular true for our Khmer Krom farmers. Some of whom have lodged their claim on their ancestral homelands three decades ago have received nothing but pain, humiliation, beatings and more false promises.

Now Vietnamese authorities are using violence to silent these protestors. Old Khmer Krom women are shocked and hurt with electric batons and disrobed Khmer Krom Buddhist monks beaten senseless.

It has even exerted its control to Cambodia, forcing the Cambodian authorities to disrobe Cambodian Resident Venerable Tim Sakhorn and deporting him to Vietnam and successfully imprisoning him.

What has the Vietnamese society come too?

No human beings like to be absolutely controlled, even if the punishment for speaking out is life imprisonment or death.

How can it hope to receive respect in the eyes of the world if it cannot begin to respect those who are ethnically different from them? Respect those who want a fair share of life, the basic essential freedoms and rights as written in their Constitution and international treaties?

Vietnam cannot preach promises if it continues to imprison people for standing up for their belief or exercising their basic human rights and freedoms.

Perhaps in good will of its recent announcement of opening human rights dialogue, Vietnam should release all of human rights activists from prison.

Release them without condition and compensate them for the pain, torture, humiliation and disrespect that they had to endure under the hands of Vietnamese authorities.

Only such actions can Vietnam start to become respected in the eyes of the Khmer Krom, and more importantly the world community.