Thursday, 4 June 2015


TS Quang Can (trích từ luận án)
Ban biên soạn sách chữ Cham ra đời trong một bối cảnh lịch sử sau 1975: (1) Sinh viên và học sinh Cham lên núi theo Fulro hằng ngàn người. (2) Phong trào phục quốc của sĩ quan chế độ cũ trên các vùng rừng núi. (3) Phong trào dạy và học chữ Cham rầm rộ trong các thôn xóm Cham. Thành lập BBSSCC để tập họp nhiều người uy tín, thầy giỏi của Cham vào chung trong một cơ quan. Đứng đầu cơ quan này là người Cham, tỉnh ủy viên, phó giám đốc Sở Giáo Dục, tập kết về: Thiết Ngữ. Cơ quan này có những cuộc hội thảo với hầu hết các trí thức Cham tại các làng Cham trong thời điểm mà sự họp mặt của trên 3 người là bị thẩm vấn. Chương trình này đã thu hút sự ủng hộ mạnh của đồng bào. Cả những người lên núi theo Fulro cũng quay về đóng góp cho chương trình tiếng mẹ đẻ này. Nhiều người được đào tạo thành những giáo viên dạy tiếng Cham. Chương trình tiếng mẹ đẻ này đã cho đồng bào Cham niềm tin để hội nhập và phát triển bền vững.
"The birth of the Cham MLTP. Let us take a look at the historical context of the region to better understand the birth of the Cham MLTP. After the North’s victory over the South in the Vietnam War that ended in 1975, the Communist Party became the ruler of the unified Vietnam, which, of course, included the minorities in the Ninh Thuan – Binh Thuan areas. Before the reunification of Vietnam, the Cham minority enjoyed a cultural and social life that was unique and distinct from the prevailing culture. Its semi-autonomous existence was recognized by the previous regime (Conference on Champa, 2007). However, with the ascendancy of the Communists, the minorities’ lives were turned upside down. Their institutions, which were based on their traditional beliefs and values, were highly decimated and their lands and properties were confiscated (Conference on Champa, 2007). Moreover, their own language was banned from being used in public and in schools (H. Nguyen, 2008). In essence, the imposition of a new communist model led to the displacement of the Cham traditional values in terms of their identity, culture, and language. It also had a constraining effect on the customary laws traditionally held by the Cham people (Conference on Champa, 2007).
This discrimination, which happened during the initial years of governance by the communist party began in 1975, affected not only the Cham people but other ethnic groups as well, like the Kinh who were formerly of the South (Conference on Champa, 2007; The Epoch Group, 2004). A substantial number of the Cham population responded to this discrimination by supporting the FULRO[1] (Front Unifié de Lutte des Races Opprimées) Champa militias. The lure of FULRO Champa’s goals and objectives, exacerbated by harsh oppression from the communists, drove thousands of youths to join the FULRO troops in their guerilla bases which were located across the region from Ninh Thuan – Binh Thuan up to the Central Highlands of Vietnam in 1976. This mass enlistment was repeated in 1977 since the Communist party from the North Vietnam covered the Republic of South Vietnam in April 1975 (H. Nguyen, 2008),
Apparently, the government sensed the growing alienation of the ethnic minorities and had to devise a strategy to woo back the populace. Along with other programs, the government had established the Cham Mother Language Teaching Program and the associated Cham Textbooks Compiling Committee (CTCC), which the government claimed was designed to respond to the desires expressed by the Cham minority community (Vietnamese Constitution, 1992). The first step in instituting the program was the recruitment in 1978 of 23 Cham teachers for an experimental project to create the Cham MLTP (Lo, 2008b). The official government discourse claimed that the objectives of the program were to revitalize the Cham language and to standardize its orthography. The belief was that these objectives could be partially accomplished through workshops that were to be held in most of the Cham villages and by teaching the Cham language in Cham pilot classes in two schools (Lo, 2008b; Vietnamese Constitution, 1992).

However, one of the Cham teachers, B. Thanh, a former principal of the Poklong High School[2], raised the criticism that the establishment of the Cham MLTP and the CTCC could be interpreted as a political strategy by the government to calm down Cham’s community-based resistance by reducing the public support of the resistance as the public at large might feel that the government was addressing their cultural and linguistic needs. Similar strategies were used to smoothly suppress the resistance of other minorities in Northern Vietnam (B. Thanh, Personal communication, January 11, 2011). Specifically, by attracting the support of the Cham people in conducting and managing the program, the government saw an opportunity to neutralize the crucial influence of the FULRO movement by removing the public support of the guerillas. There are at least two possible motives behind the government action of co-opting Cham people’s support for the program. Either the program is seen by the government as a way to pacify the Cham people, or it is a genuine mother language development program similar to other minority or indigenous language programs instituted throughout the world (Baker, 2011; Skutnabb-Kangas & Phillipson, 2008). The Cham people and human rights activists maintain the position that Cham language education is a right, so it should be given the necessary resources to flourish (Baker, 2011)."

[1] FULRO, or The United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races, is a political and military organization created by some ethnic minorities in the Vietnamese Highlands and established in 1964 to fight against the Republic of Vietnam until the year 1975 and then against the government of Vietnam from 1977 until 1992. The militias included the FULRO Champa (Champa liberation front), the FULRO Degar (Vietnam’s Center highlanders liberation front), and the FULRO Khmer (Cambodia Krom liberation front) (H. Nguyen, 2008, Nguyen, 2004).

[2] Poklong High School was the only Cham high school in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces built from funds raised by the Cham people (1965-1975). It is now the Minority Boarding School of Ninh Thuan province (Bao, 2007).