Aug 26, 2008

European Parliament Hears From Khmer Krom & Montagnard Representatives

The Subcommittee on Human Rights learned of the latest human rights abuses going unpunished in Cambodia and Vietnam directly from UNPO Members.


Below is an article written by UNPO:
In the first meeting of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights following the summer recess, representatives from the Khmer Kumpuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) and the Montagnard Foundation Inc. (MFI) have provided the committee with an up-to-date assessment of the human rights situations of minorities in Cambodia and Vietnam.

UNPO joined other observers in a packed committee room to hear KKF and MFI representatives give their evidence alongside counterparts from organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights in China, and Human Rights Watch.  

On the subcommittee’s agenda were an exchange of views following the close of the Olympic Games in China, the current human rights situations in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, and lastly the state of human rights in Moldova.

Initial discussions dwelt on the impact the Olympic Games had had on China’s policy towards its citizens.  Mrs. Hom, representing Human Rights in China, stated her organization’s belief that political change in China would have to be driven by civil society within the country.  This was reiterated by representatives from the European Commission who referred attendees to the case of bloggers driving criticism of the authorities.

Despite these comments, the European Commission stated only its “disappointment” that any improvements in China’s human rights record had not been commensurate with the promises made in the run-up to the Games.  In fact, it was felt that the Olympic Games may have put the promotion of Chinese human rights on hold – but that the conclusion of the Games may allow China to put its human rights record “back on track”.  

This generous assessment was not shared by Mr. McMillan-Scott, vice-president of the European Parliament.  He declared China the “most brutal regime” in the international community and urged the European Parliament to continue to amass evidence on China’s human rights and the international community to maintain its pressure on China.

Attentions then shifted to the respective human rights situations in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.  Mr. Vien Thach, of the KKF read an appeal (which is contained below) detailing a litany of religious, land right, education, and media curtailments that affected the daily lives of Khmer Krom in Vietnam.  

Responses were heard from the ambassadors for Cambodia and Vietnam who respectively expressed their commitment to building political stability within their countries but who, in the opinion of many of those gathered, still had much to do to safeguard the rights of all those living within their states’ borders.

Mr. Kok Ksor, of the MFI, rebuffed claims by the Vietnamese government that it targeted only those who had committed criminal acts, and instead cited a long list of instances where the government had conducted surveillance and confiscations against the Montagnard minority.  Using the opportunity to address the subcommittee, Mr. Ksor urged the European Parliament and the institutions of the European Union to take the lead in ensuring Vietnam’s observance of the international human rights instruments to which it is a signatory.

The Subcommittee on Human Rights will next meet in the European Parliament in Brussels at 15h00 on Wednesday 10 September 2008.
To read the speeches of the KKF to the European Parliament please click the following links:
Speech on Vietnam
Speech on Cambodia 
To read the Appeals presented by the KKF to the European Parliament Sub Commission for Human Rights please click the following links:
Appeal concerning Vietnam
Appeal concerning Cambodia 

UNPO Members are reminded of the following deadlines for the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review:

Vietnam: Monday 3 November 2008
Cambodia: Monday13 April 2009

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