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To Hoang Chuong (L) and Thach Cuong (R) in court on 20 March. Credit: Tra Vinh newspaper.


Khmer-Krom activists sentenced to prison for human rights training

21 Mar 2024

Two Khmer-Krom activists were charged with ‘abusing democratic freedoms’ by a court in Cau Ngang District, Tra Vinh Province, Vietnam on 20 March after they organised trainings on the rights of indigenous people under international law.

To Hoang Chuong and Thach Cuong had been detained for over eight months without access to legal assistance and family visits prior to their trial, which some sources have reported was arranged in less than a week. The families of the convicted men were not notified and could not be present. Chuong and Cuoung were sentenced to four and three-and-a-half years in prison respectively.

In February, a court in neighbouring Soc Trang Province sentenced another Khmer-Krom activist Danh Minh Quang, 34, to three-and-a-half years in prison on the same charge. Quang was arrested in July 2023 as part of the same investigation into Chuong and Cuong following the training they delivered which was based on material compiled by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Approximately 1.3 million Khmer-Krom live in a part of southwest Vietnam that was once part of Cambodia. The Khmer-Krom are predominantly Buddhist and share many cultural, political and linguistic ties to Cambodia. Similarly to the Montagnard ethnic group in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, the Khmer-Krom have faced serious restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and movement.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘The Vietnamese government’s suppression of ethnic and religious minorities shows no sign of slowing down. Only a few weeks ago the government designated two Montagnard human rights organisations as terrorist groups; 2024 began with the jailing of a pastor who held a prayer meeting in his home; and today, yet again, CSW calls for the immediate release and expungement of charges against two human rights defenders, To Hoang Chuong and Thach Cuong. We condemn the Vietnamese government for their flagrant and persistent persecution and suppression of ethnic and religious minorities, and call on the international community to hold Vietnam to the human rights standards it must meet as a member of the UN Human Rights Council.’  



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