Representatives of three major minority groups in Vietnam have officially joined in a coalition to demand better treatment from Vietnamese authorities, including freedom of religion.
The groups, which are based in Western countries, have joined together as the Coalition for the Indigenous Peoples in Vietnam to “demand freedoms,” said Thach Ngoc Thach, who heads an advocacy group for the Khmer minority in Vietnam, known commonly as the Khmer Kampuchea Krom.
The Khmer Krom and other groups say their rights and freedoms are restricted by the current Vietnamese government.
Donor countries should consider the problems faced by minorities in Vietnam before giving aid to the country, he said. “We are all now Americans, Australians and Canadians who are taxpayers,” he said. “So we want these governments to pay our tax money to develop Vietnam in the areas that we want.”
Vietnam has more than 50 different ethnic groups. Among them, the Montagnards are the poorest and the Tai continue to push for better rights and opportunities, Thach Ngoc Thach said. “In the future, if other ethnic groups come together, it will be very effective,” he said.
“The US, Canada and the European Union are multicultural,” he said. “Therefore Vietnam should follow these countries, which have enabled all ethnic groups to live together in harmony.”