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Featured Person of the Week: Sasda Pen

Khmer Krom Youth: Sasda Pen from CambodiaKhmer Krom Youth: Sasda Pen from CambodiaIn 2010, Sasda Pen visited the U.S for the very first time, representing from Cambodia, at the U.N Permanent Forum as a young Khmer-Krom women. Sasda wanted to share with the world the story of our people - so to try to achieve that, Sasda took initiatives, worked hard, and tried to learn as many things as possible.

As a young girl, Sasda remembers visiting her native hometown of Mort Chruok with her parents. From her visit, Sasda recalls the extent of oppression by the Vietnamese police that she witnessed, in this excerpt, Sasda recalls those major events and shares the reason behind her involvement with KKFYC: “The reason that [I] join and help [our] people is because I have seen so many problems in my home land (Kampuchea-Krom ) especially around human right abuses . I remember a time when I was a young girl , I went to visit my homeland [from Cambodia]. I tried to play Khmer songs ,and put on Khmer T.V there , but my family told me to stop because they said that the police here did not allow people here to listened to Khmer songs , or watch Khmer TV. If they[police] heard someone’s house playing it, they will come and impose punishment. I was wondering why... nobody answered me.

When I turned 12, I went back to our homeland again. I remembered as my mother and I just arrived, my uncle asked us to present ourselves at the government[VN] post office in order to report the purpose for our visit . And again, I wondered and asked why.. why do we have to report them if we just come to visit? Then when we returned to Phnom Penh, I asked my parents. They told me that this is the way that communist country operate, so we have to endure them when we go back.

I remember one morning during high school I was listening to the radio before going off to school and I heard the reporting on the violations by the VN government on the mongs who fought for human right. And I asked myself again, … MONG? What’s happening there? Why they[VN] so cruel? Why why why ?

As I start my university life , in first year of university I really didn’t know much about Khmer-Krom issues . My brother gave me a book which was about Khmer-Krom, as I read those, I started to hunger to know more right away. In 2009 my brother introduced me to one of the Khmer-Krom association and I decide to join , I learned so much there. I read few Khmer-Krom history books which was given to me by a Hmong friend. Afterward I joined as a reporter for a radio station, which is lead me discover more about what was happening in Khmer Krom right now .

In 2010 I heard about UN, and about UNFPII where they discuss about human right issues for indigenous people . I really wanted to join and help bring the case of Khmer Krom to be an international case because I wanted to see Khmer-Krom people have more freedom of living and more opportunity.

Fortunately, I had a chance to join the UN PFII that year, and KKF sponsored me to the U.S . It was an amazing time for me and I will never forget it. Even though we can see that there are more intervention on Khmer-Krom issues now, it is still not enough. So, I think we still need more youth to join us to take more action in order to keep Khmer-Krom spirit still alive - more voice of the youth can bring Khmer-Krom in our Motherland more freedom of living . As you see already, they don’t have much right to do what they want to do , to say what they want to say. Therefore, only youths oversea can help to make more voice at the UN to change the situation back home , and can give them a hope of living . We need more youth to join us to bring more good news for Khmer-Krom”