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Khmer Krom Living on the Edge of the Rising Sea

With half of their land now swallowed up by the ocean, some poor families are trying their best to survive against the continuing seawater intrusion in Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta, but their struggle is far from over.

KIEN GIANG, The Mekong Delta—Along a muddy and windswept beach in a remote seaside village in the south-western province of the Mekong Delta, a one-lane dirt road divides the green arable land on one side and a beach-front on the other. It seems like any other road, but for villagers here, this is simply a much-needed lifeline, a buffer that prevents the rising seawater from swamping their homes.

Those who live behind the dyke, built by the Vietnamese government, have seen their rice fields and houses rescued from saltwater intrusion. Not so fortunate, are the families whose houses and lands are sandwiched between the wall and the sea.

Reflection on the statement of Vietnam at the 22nd meeting of UNHRC

Last year, Vietnam was elected to be a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the term of 2014-2016. On February 25, 2013, Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, delivered a statement that was very impressive to the listeners who do not know about the human rights violations in Vietnam.

Mr. Pham Binh Minh said that "Viet Nam was a party to most human rights international treaties". It is true that Vietnam signed most of the human rights international treaties, even more than the United States, but Vietnamese government does not even allow the people in Vietnam to enjoy the fundamental freedom, such as: Freedom of Press or Freedom of Association.

British PM regrets "deeply shameful" colonial Indian massacre

By Andrew Osborn | Reuters – Wed, 20 Feb, 2013

AMRITSAR, India (Reuters) - David Cameron on Wednesday became the first serving British prime minister to voice regret about one of the bloodiest episodes in colonial India, a massacre of unarmed civilians in the city of Amritsar in 1919.

The killings, known in India as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, were described by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian independence movement, as having shaken the foundations of the British Empire. A group of soldiers opened fire on an unarmed crowd without warning in the northern Indian city after a period of unrest, killing hundreds in cold blood.

Canada Opens New Religious Freedom Office

by Joseph Brean - The National Post | Feb 19, 2013 7:05 PM ET

MAPLE, ONTARIO — Andrew P. W. Bennett, Canada’s first ambassador of religious freedom, is a Christian academic studying toward a theology degree in Ottawa, an expert on Scottish devolution, and a government policy analyst with experience in the Privy Council, Export Development Canada and Natural Resources Canada.

With four staff and a $5-million annual budget, his new role is to promote freedom of religion, belief and conscience around the world by ensuring it is reflected in Canada’s foreign policy.

UN Refugee Cambodia Office Downsizes

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer

PHNOM PENH - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has reduced staffing in its Phnom Penh office in favor of support for the Cambodian office tasked with aiding refugees, a UN spokeswoman says.

"We have downsized because of the overall financial situation, but we still have about two staff members in this office," the UNHCR spokeswoman, Vivian Tan, told VOA Khmer. "We’re downsizing, not closing." The office is also "re-organizing how we support the Cambodian authorities in order to better complement government arrangements through the Cambodian Refugee Office," she said.

Crime sites revealed by KRT judge

Written by Abby Seiff, Published by Phnom Penh Post

Invoking a rule concerning the transparency of proceedings at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, newly appointed International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon has released a list of 14 crime sites now under investigation in government-opposed Case 004.

The Kraing Ta Chan security centre in Takeo province. Photograph: DC-Cam

Security centres and prisons, work sites and execution sites in Battambang, Pursat, Takeo, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham provinces are among the sites listed in the case against former zone leaders Im Chaem, Ta An and Ta Tith. Many of the crime sites relate to the brutal treatment of the Khmer Krom.

Human Rights Day - 10 December 2012

Every year, Human Rights Day on December 10, people around the world commemorate the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. The Human Rights Day is also organized to recognize the work of human rights defenders who work tirelessly and bravely to defend for the fundamental rights as enshrined in the UDHR.

The Khmer Rouge Trial in November 2012

Published by Asian Correspondent

The first visit of a head of government to the Court and the first hearing over the Khmer Krom genocide investigation were the main events this month to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) for the prosecution of top surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime (1975 – 1979.) The Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, joined US President Barack Obama, Australian Primer Minister Julia Gillard and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during the ASEAN summit, then the premier paid a visit to the Court and announced a new pledge of NZ$ 200,000 (US $ 164,220.)

Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) and Degar Foundation at the U.S. Capital, Washington D.C.

From left: Mr. Tran Mannrinh, Mr. Tran Giap, Mr. Kok Ksor (President of Degar Foundation) and Mr. Duong Hoang

After becoming a member of WTO in 2007, the Vietnamese government has systematically and tactically used the so-called “National Security Laws” to oppress the human rights advocates, especially the Khmer-Krom (Indigenous Peoples of Mekong Delta) and Degar (Indigenous Peoples of Central Highlands), people who advocate for the freedom of expression, association, and land rights. In recent years, the Khmer-Krom and Degar advocates were summoned to interrogate and facing imprisonment. Some of them had to escape to Thailand seeking for refugee status with the UNHCR in Bangkok.

Smith’s Vietnam Human Rights Act Passed by House of Representatives

Published by Congressman Chris Smith Office

Washington, Sep 11 - WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill to promote democracy, freedom and human rights in Vietnam—“The Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2012”— authored by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), was approved by the House of Representatives in a voice vote Tuesday night.

“It is imperative that the United States Government send an unequivocal message to the Vietnamese regime that it must end its human rights abuses against its own citizens,” said Smith on the floor of the House. He is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who chairs its Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights. “H.R. 1410 would institute effective measures towards improving human rights in Vietnam. As reported by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, this bill prohibits any increase in non-humanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam above Fiscal Year 2011 levels unless the government makes substantial progress in establishing a democracy and promoting human rights.” Click here to read Smith’s remarks.

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