Allegation are made that a District Policeman cuts throat of Montagnard man and another beats child unconscious with his fists
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
VIETNAM (ANS) -- It will be yet another difficult Christmas for the tribal Montagnard Christians of Central Vietnam as disturbing allegations have reached ANS that a Montagnard Christian has been killed, others tortured and Bibles confiscated. (Pictured: Center, A Montagnard (Degar) Christian arrested (and later beaten) by Vietnamese authorities for practicing Christianity).
In a statement sent to ANS, Mr. Kok Ksor, President of the Montagnard Foundation, Inc., (MFI) said, “This Christmas will not be a Merry Christmas for the Montagnard Degar People inside and out of Vietnam. The Degar People are not allowed to celebrate Christmas with official masses and ceremonies in Vietnam under threat of arrest and torture.
“The Vietnamese Government continues to repress us and interfere in our religious affairs. This year however, thanks to Radio Radicale, the Montagnard people will celebrate Christmas all together through radio broadcasting from abroad into Vietnam’s tightly controlled central highlands.
“This is the only freedom we can enjoy today but the Vietnamese communist government will not destroy our spirit. Our people want to be free and we will continue seeking freedom through nonviolent means. Now the international community must realize that a moral and legal obligation exists to free all the oppressed people of the world from oppressive Governments like Vietnam.”
CHRISTMAS CRACKDOWN COMMENCES
According to sources inside of Vietnam, harassment, beatings, torture and killings are reported in the lead up to Christmas 2003 as Vietnamese communist authorities intensify the crackdown against Montagnard (Degar) Christians in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
“Direct from Vietnam our people report that virtually every single village now has secret police stationed there who intimidate and arrest Christians and refugees who try fleeing to Cambodia,” said a spokesman for the Montagnard Foundation.
The spokesman went on to say that the December 18 2003 US State Department International Religious Freedom Report stated, “The situation remained poor or worsened for many ethnic minority Protestants in the Central Highlands and Northwest Highlands.”
He said that the human rights violations listed below come directly from “our people inside Vietnam who are appealing to the international community for urgent assistance and protection.”
CHILD BEATEN UNCONSCIOUS ON DECEMBER 14 2003. On this day approximately 60 paramilitary police (cong an) surrounded Byun's house at Plei Bia Tih, Commune of Hdok, Dak Doa District, Gia Lai Province but were unable to find who they wanted to arrest – a Montagnard Christian named “Byun”. In frustration a Vietnamese police officer, interrogated Byun's son who was 7 years old. The child was so scared and couldn't say any word and so Officer Hung struck the child with his fist 3 times on his chest knocking the child unconscious, in full view of the village.
THROAT CUT - ARRESTED AND EXECUTED ON DECEMBER 13 2003. At 7:00 pm in the evening, a group of paramilitary police officers from Dak Dao District surrounded the village of Plei O Dot in the Commune of Ia Bang, Dak Dao District, Gia Lai Province and arrested 2 villagers named “Nih” (41 years old) and “So” (44 years old). They both were Christians and had registered themselves as supporters of MFI and the Transnational Radical Party (TRP), an NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC, which the Vietnamese Government is trying to expel from the UN for its support to the Montagnard people and to the Montagnard Foundation. “Nih” was number #338 and “So” was number is #373 on this list. Both of them were taken to the prison in the district of Dak Doa and tortured by beatings, kicking and electric shock. “Nih” refused to answer questions or renounce Christ and an officer from the Dak Doa police took a knife and stabbed him in his chest and then cut his throat. The recorded data of these two peoples as supporters of MFI and the TRP are available for national and international authorities willing to investigate the case.
On December 15, 2003, the police took the body of Nih to his family at Plei O Dot but refused to allow the family to perform the funeral and stated they wanted the villagers to see what happens to those who the government does not like. “Nih” was a Christian and had been helping to feed Christian refugees who were hiding in the area. Until now we don't know if the dead body has been properly buried or not.
ARRESTED ON DECEMBER 12 2003. – A group of paramilitary police (cong an) from the district of Dak Doa, province of Gia Lai surrounded the village of Plei Brong Guai in the Commune of Ia Pet at 9:00 pm evening and arrested a villager named “Cel”. The government wanted to arrest him because he is a Christian and supporter of MFI. Cel is 40 years old and also a registered supporter of TRP of which he was listed as registered supporter number 1. He is now imprisoned at the district of Dak Doa.
ARRESTED ON DECEMBER 12 2003 - at 7am Vietnamese police arrested Montagnard Christian named “Mon” (born in 1963) and “Amik” (born in 1946) in their village of Aluk Prong, Dak Doa province, and Kdang village, Dak Doa province. Their current whereabouts and status of their health is unknown.
ARRESTED ON DECEMBER 5 2003. At approximately 8pm Vietnamese police entered village of Bia Bre in Dak Doa province and arrested a Montagnard Christian named “Croc” at his house. Croc had previously tried to flee to neighboring Cambodia but was arrested prior to leaving. His whereabouts and status of his health is unknown.
VILLAGE RANSACKED, CHRISTIANS BEATEN, ARRESTED AND BIBLES CONFISCATED ON NOVEMBER 21 2003. At H’le and O Village in Ia Bang Province a squad of paramilitary police forces conducted operations searching for Christians and members of the Montagnard Foundation.
“These police officers entered the village in vehicles and began threatening and beating villagers, forcing them out of their homes. The police demanded to know the names of villagers who were assisting refugees hiding on the Cambodian border and those who were holding un-official prayer meetings,” said the MFI spokesman. “They also confiscated Bibles they found in the houses.”
He said that some of the victims of the police brutalities were:
“Wol” - his house was ransacked after having the doors kicked in and most of his property damaged. Police searched his house from top to bottom and only found rice and money. The police threw all over the ground and then stole the money (200,000 dong) and confiscated bibles they found.
“Hoi” - his house was ransacked and his windows all deliberately broken.
“Ding” - his kitchens doors were ripped off the hinges. He was beaten, chained and taken to the taken to the district jail house. His current whereabouts and status of his health is unknown.
“Wam” - his entire family’s rice supply was deliberately scattered over the village by the police.
“San” - the police purposely crashed their vehicle into his house causing his house to collapse. Most of the house was damaged beyond repair.
28 YEARS OF PERSECUTION
“Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the Montagnard Degar Peoples have faced a systematic repressive policy by the Vietnamese government involving widespread violations of basic human rights focusing on confiscation of ancestral lands, cultural destruction and religious persecution,” said the spokesman. “It is noted that in April 2002, Human Rights Watch produced a comprehensive 194 page report about our plight tilted “Repression of Montagnards” where the opening press release stated:
“The Montagnards have been repressed by Vietnam for decades. This has got to stop.”
The spokesman stated, “In December 2003 the persecution inside Vietnam is continuing unabated and much more is needed to do in order to stop the suffering of our race and develop a permanent solution to the situation confronting our people’s bleak future. Hundreds of our people remain in prison, more have disappeared after arrest and the Vietnamese government has sent soldiers and paramilitary police to patrol the Cambodian border while simultaneously preventing media and international monitors from having access to the central highlands. Montagnards who are found to possess a mobile cell phone are immediately arrested and subject to severe punishment. The situation has reached a crisis point. The government has even resorted to forcing Montagnards to renounce Christ by making our people drink sacrificed animal blood.”
The latest State Department Report on Religious Freedom reported: “Following the ethnic unrest in the Central Highlands in February/March 2001, there also were numerous reports of local authorities attempting to force ethnic minority Protestants to renounce their faith. In the villages of Druh, B'Le, B'Gha, V'Sek, Koyua, Tung Thang, Tung Kinh, and Dung in Ea H'Leo district of Dak Lak province, ethnic minority commune and district officials, some of whom are ethnic minorities themselves, were assigned to coerce Protestant followers symbolically to abandon Protestantism by drinking alcohol mixed with animal blood in a ritual called "the ceremony of repentance." In the villages of Buon Sup, Buon Ea Rok, and Buon Koya in Ea Sup district, Dak Lak province, ethnic minority Protestants were pressured to undergo a similar ritual recantation of faith.”
There were sporadic unconfirmed reports of this occurring in other instances during the period covered by this report.
IN A STATEMENT TO ANS, THE MONTAGNARD FOUNDATION RESPECTFULLY ASKS:
The United Nations Organization takes immediate action in getting human rights monitors access to the central highlands as recommended by the UN Human Rights Committee of which Vietnam has continued to ignore. (July 2002 75th session Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Vietnam. UN doc: CCPR/C/SR.2031)
The United Nations Organization takes immediate action to ensure the UNHCR is permitted to operate freely in Cambodia, that both Cambodia and Vietnam abide by the Refugee Convention, (as recently identified by UN Special Envoy Hon. Peter Leupretch) and that the $66 dollar bounties paid by Hanoi for our fleeing refugees are immediately stopped.
The United Nations Organization and the Countries members of UN sub-committee of NGOs should reject the allegations raised by the Vietnamese government, against Mr. Kok Ksor, the Montagnard Foundation and the Transnational Radical Party (an NGO with Consultative Status to the UN who allowed Mr. Kok Ksor to speak on its behalf at the Commission on Human Rights); the Vietnamese Government in fact, without any serious evidence accuses the Montagnard Foundation of being a terrorist group, and for this reason would like to have the TRP banned from attending the works of the UN. Special notice should be undertaken to review how freedom of expression will be seriously undermined in the UN if such grave allegations would prevail without any serious scrutiny according to international standards of fair trial and the right to defense.
The United Nations Organization takes immediate action to secure release of the hundreds of our Montagnard people held in prison for peaceful political activity, for being Christian or for trying to flee to Cambodia as refugees.
That international donors and foreign governments seriously review how aid monies are used in Vietnam in order to ensure Vietnam ceases human rights violations and religious repression in Vietnam. (as reported by the Human Rights Watch report of December 2 2003 entitled “Vietnam: Donors Must Insist On Human Rights Progress”).
That religious organizations around the world seriously question the Vietnamese government over its continued religious repression of our people as well as persecuted Vietnamese Buddhists, Hao Hoa Buddhists, Hmong peoples, Muslim Chams, and other political dissidents in Vietnam.
DESPITE PERSECUTION, CHRISTIANS CONTINUE TO GROW IN NUMBERS
The Montagnard Foundation notes the latest 2003 US State Department International Religious Freedom report on Vietnam, “Despite the Government's restrictions, the number of Protestants continued to grow.” and “Protestantism, particularly the house church movement in ethnic minority areas, is the fastest growing religion in the country.”
The Montagnard Foundation acknowledges this spiritual growth of Christianity and unequivocally states, “We will continue to speak and act in a non-violent and peaceful way for our imprisoned and persecuted brothers and sisters inside Vietnam and carry on our peaceful struggle until Vietnam ceases interference in our religious affairs and stops persecuting our race. We further state our only desire is that we may live in peace as indigenous people without fear of persecution according to accepted international standards.”
CALL FOR URGENT ACTION
The spokesman concluded by saying, “Unless urgent action is taken to protect our people inside Vietnam’s Central Highlands many more Montagnard people are going to suffer and perhaps die.”
For further information go onto the MFI website: http://www.montagnard-foundation.org, or contact Scott Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.