The Khmer-Krom Journey to Self-Determination


Sereivuth Prak
P.O.Box 193
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
Phone:  562-209-1790

Pennsauken, NJ – January 19, 2010 – Prior to April 1975, people around the world knew about the Vietnam War. Today, people know about the fertile land of the Mekong Delta that helps Vietnam to be ranked as the second leading exporter of rice in the world. However, there are very few people who know the true history of the Mekong Delta and its surrounding regions. Therefore, people don’t know about the indigenous Khmer-Krom peoples.KKbook-picture

The Khmer-Krom are the indigenous peoples of Kampuchea-Krom. Kampuchea-Krom means “Cambodia Below” or “South Cambodia”. Kampuchea-Krom was the southernmost territory of the Khmer Empire. The territory was renamed Cochinchina during the French colonization of Indochina. After the French government illegally transferred its colony, Cochinchina, to Vietnam on June 4, 1949, without the plebiscite or the consent of the Khmer-Krom, Cochinchina (Kampuchea-Krom) became lower half of the Republic of South Vietnam. Since April 30, 1975, Kampuchea-Krom has been known as the Southern part of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Living under the control of the Vietnamese government, the indigenous Khmer-Krom peoples have suffered tremendous human rights violations, confiscation of ancestral lands, and economic and social deprivations. The Indigenous Khmer-Krom peoples are not allowed to learn their own language and history in public schools or to freely practice their Theravada Buddhism without the interference of the Vietnamese government.

As an effort to bring awareness of the voiceless Khmer-Krom in Kampuchea-Krom to the world, the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) is proud to present this book about the Khmer-Krom, entitled “The Khmer-Krom Journey to Self-Determination”. This is the first time this subject has been presented in this level of detail in the English language.

This book contains material produced by the KKF reflecting the true accounts of the Khmer-Krom regarding their history, culture, religion, and land. This information was produce by the combined efforts of KKF contributors, living in Kampuchea-Krom and from countries around the world. This book also consists of a collection of articles and essays about the Khmer-Krom that are written by academics and Human Rights advocates.

In his review of this book, Madev Mohan, the International Law representing Khmer-Krom Survivors at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Khmer Rouge Tribunal) wrote, “this book should be read by all activists, scholars, jurists and policy makers in the fields of international development and humanitarianism with a view to identifying fresh measures to preserve the Khmer Krom social memory and culture, protect the human rights of the Khmer Krom people and, importantly, tell the Khmer Krom story.”

Cover of this book

Cover of this book

Cover of this book


Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
P.O.Box 193
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
Tel:  856-655-3838 
Fax: 856-655-1503

Copyright@2009 Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrival system, without permission in writing to Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.

Published by Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Cover designed by Khanh Son
Edited by Daryn Reicherter and Joshua Cooper
Printed in the United States of America
ISBN 978-0-578-04392-0


Foreword 5
Acknowledgements 7
Introduction 9

KKF Mission 15
Organizational Structure 15
International Membership 17
Head Office 17
Activities at the International Level 18
Activities at the Local Level 22

A Brief History of the Kampuchea-Krom 25
The Land of the Khmer-Krom 60
Theravada Buddhism Among The Khmer Krom 103
Mindfulness Meditation after Trauma 127
The Culture of the Khmer-Krom 136

The Land Rights Abuses 167
Khmer-Krom Social and Cultural Institutions 170
Khmer-Krom Youths in Kampuchea-Krom 172
Violations of Religious Freedom 173
Specific Human Rights Violations 184
Psychology of Oppression: Human Rights Abuses in the Mekong River Delta 200
An Open Dialogue for Immediate Action on Khmer-Krom Poverty 207
Khmer-Krom Theravada Buddhist Organization Should Remain Independent from the Government-Run “Vietnamese Buddhist Shangha” 223
Discriminatory Practices Denying Educational Opportunities 227

Addressing Human Rights Abuses in the Past and Present 237
The Stateless Khmer-Krom in Cambodia 252
The Khmer-Krom Refugees in Thailand: From Horror to Hopelessness 257

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: An International Instrument for Dignity & Equality for All on Earth 262
UNPO and KKF: United in the Struggle for Self-Determination 268
CEDAW and Protection of Women’s Human Rights 289
Khmer-Krom Youth Movement 291
Opportunity for All KKF to Volunteer in United Nations Initiative: Sign Up to Serve on a KKF Working Group Based on Passions & Purpose 294
Indigenous Peoples Access Most Recent Human Rights Mechanism to Guarantee Vietnam Government Accountable to Global Community: Khmer Krom Urge Recognition and Realization of Rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review 296

Conclusion 303
Appendixes and Contributors 305
APPENDIX A: Documented Evident of Transfering of Cochinchina 306
APPENDIX B: Khmer-Krom Temples 322
APPENDIX C: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 324


This first book to be written in English about the Khmer-Krom will be a vital tool to increase international understanding and awareness of the history and culture of a unique community. The Khmer-Krom have undergone a long history of oppression and exploitation. A combination of conflict over land ownership and colonial influence has divided their ancestral territory between Vietnam and Cambodia, weakening the collective bargaining power of their people and their ability to protect their rights. Moreover, oppressive policies have left the people of Khmer-Krom striving to preserve their identity and their cohesion as an indigenous group. This highlights just how crucial it is to record and disseminate this clear and comprehensive portrayal of a people to safeguard their future generations.

Perhaps the most significant challenge for the Khmer-Krom is that they are not well known outside their immediate regions. The basic and most important challenge therefore is to disseminate facts about the community’s history and current situation. This is precisely what motivates the endeavors of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). The UNPO works in partnership with indigenous peoples, minorities and under-represented or marginalized groups to provide them with an entry point to mainstream international platforms and to facilitate their participation in the decision-making processes which affect them.

The inaugural collaboration between the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and UNPO was a conference in 2002 designed to raise awareness of the Khmer-Krom within the Mekong Delta. This momentous conference led to the first historic appearance of the Khmer-Krom on the international stage as representatives addressed the 2004 UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues.

Although aims and contexts vary dramatically between UNPO Members, it is evident that cross-cutting themes apply across the board, demonstrating unity in the aspirations of marginalized communities. The value in acting as a network cannot be underestimated in the endeavor to reformulate and broaden the concept of self-determination.

Today, the publication of this book marks a further crucial step towards the recognition of the people of Khmer-Krom and their struggle towards freedom, democracy, rule of law and self-determination. UNPO would like to express solidarity with the people of the Khmer-Krom in their campaign to secure human, civil and political rights, and widespread representation and recognition.

By encouraging discourses, this book opens spaces for dialogue where all other forums are closed.

Marino Busdachin

Marino Busdachin


(Mr. Marino Busdachin is UNPO General Secretary. Little background about him can be found at:


The KKF Research Team is made up of numerous KKF members internationally. They contributed tirelessly to this project. Also, below are the individual contributors for this book:

Ang, Chanrith is an Executive Director of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Association in Cambodia.

Aylward, Alexandra isa research coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. She is currently researching human rights abuses in the context of torture; female genital mutilation; and the oppression of the Khmer-Krom peoples. Alexandra hopes that her contributions will enlighten people about the abuses committed by sanctioned governments.

Ciorciari, John D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He is also a senior legal advisor to the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.

Cooper, Joshua, Ph.D., is the Director of The Four Freedoms Forum, a Think & Tactic Tank, focusing on a human rights framework rooted in America’s tradition of equality, dignity and justice. Cooper has served past decade as Director of the Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights connecting grassroots and global affairs through education, mobilization and realization of rights for citizens of the world. He serves on the Human Rights Task Force for the UNA-USA Board of Directors and also the Area Coordinator & Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA. Cooper is currently an Asia Pacific Leadership Program Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu and a lecturer at the University of Hawaii teaching classes focusing on International Human Rights Law and Ecological Justice. Cooper also lectures at the International Training Center for Teaching Peace and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

dela Cruz, Christine, MA, is a Research Assistant at the International Secretariat of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) based in the Hague.

Harris, Ian, Ph.D., is Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Cumbria, England and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Asian Research Institute, National University of Singapore. He is the author of Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice (2005) and Buddhism Under Pol Pot (2007) plus many additional articles and edited volumes on aspects of Buddhism and politics. He has held visiting fellowships in Oxford, Vancouver and Phnom Penh and he is currently engaged in research on the history of Buddhism in Cambodia (1940-73).

O’Donnell, Amy, MA, is a Research Assistant at the International Secretariat of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) based in the Hague.

Reicherter, Daryn, MD, is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, School of Medicine. He provides a combination of administrative and clinical services in the area of “cross-cultural” trauma mental health. He is the Director of Cross Cultural Psychiatry at Gardner Mental Health Care Clinic, the Senior Psychiatrist at the Eastern European Service Agency, and a Consulting Psychiatrist at the Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture, Asian Americans for Community Involvement. He is the President of the Board of Directors for Survivors International. He serves as a consultant to the Documentation Center of Cambodia. He is on the Advisory Council for the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.

Scott, Peter is a husband and father, a high school teacher, an author of four books, and an abiding friend of the Khmer-Krom.

Shin, Heisoo, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Professor, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, and a Former Expert, UN CEDAW Committee (2001-2008).

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