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Question: You talk about your individual and collective journey
"from living without really being conscious of the world around
us, into a life where we began to understand ourselves and our community
in the context of history and what is happening in the world."
What's your process for training other young people to advocate
for their own communities?
CAAAV: We train young people to learn about the struggles, histories
and cultures of their communities and other communities of color.
We lead structured discussions where we challenge each other to
question our perceptions and how we think about the world. We learn
how to listen to others' perspectives and evaluate them in the context
of our community.
Question: I've heard recently that the U.S. has started a quiet
campaign to deport Cambodian refugees. What is CAAAV doing on this
issue? How can people get involved?
CAAAV: We here in the Chinatown Justice Project of CAAAV do not
work on the issue of Cambodian repatriation. However, in response
to the repatriation agreement between Cambodia and the United States,
CAAAV has formed the Khmer Freedom Campaign. We have asked the members
of the Khmer Freedom Campaign to answer your question. Here is their
We at CAAAV are taking this moment to respond back to your question
concerning the recent and hot topic in the Cambodian community
What are we at CAAAV doing around Cambodian deportation? Well, this
is a very good question. As you may know, CAAAV does organizing
in low-income Asian communities in NYC. One project of CAAAV works
directly with Southeast Asians (mainly Cambodian and Vietnamese)
in the Bronx. The issue of repatriation (a fancy word for deportation)
is a very serious issue for us. We feel that the deportation agreement
between the U.S. and Cambodia is unjust and is a direct attack on
our community. To date (in just mere months since the agreement
was signed), thirty-seven Cambodian people have been deported, including
an 80-year-old grandfather.
Locally, CAAAV held community education events about deportation
and how it affects the community in NYC and we are preparing to
launch a public awareness campaign. Nationally, CAAAV is working
with Southeast Asian communities from different parts of the country
from Long Beach (CA), the largest Cambodian population
in the U.S., to Lowell (MA), the largest Cambodian population on
the East Coast, to Oakland (CA), Madison (WI), Providence (RI),
and Philly. The Southeast Asian Freedom Network (as the network
is called) seeks to mobilize the Southeast Asian community to oppose
deportation. One of the first actions we took was the National Day
of Action on November 7th and 8th, where simultaneous actions/demonstrations
from different cities took place on the same day. The main objective
was to highlight the secret agreement between the US and Cambodia,
and the extreme consequences (deportation) of this agreement.
This communication between different community groups is a continuous
process, and we hope to bring a national attention and a national
strategy to the injustice of deportation and poverty. If you know
someone being deported (or family members who are concerned about
someone they know), please feel free to call us at (718) 220-7391
How can you get involved? The most important thing you can do is
to get Southeast Asian (Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotian) individuals
or groups in contact with CAAAV, so that we can link them to our
national network. Even if they themselves are not in immediate danger
of deportation, the chances are very high that someone in their
immediate community is at risk (and may not even know it). By contacting
us, we can help them find potential deportees in their immediate
community, and provide those deportees with much-needed legal and
organizational support. The other way you can help is through financial
support. CAAAV is a non-profit 501(c)(3), and we need as much help
as we can get. Again, if you have any questions call us at (718)
220-7391 x 16.
We thank you for all your thoughtful questions. We would like to
invite everyone in the New York City area to our film screening
at 7:00 PM on Friday, December 13th at 184 Eldridge Street in Manhattan
to learn more about the struggles we face.