Friday, April 15, 2011

Vietnam: Montagnards Harshly Persecuted

Jarai women in Plei Lao village, Gia Lai, where Mobile Intervention Police broke up an all-night prayer meeting in March 2001, fired on villagers- killing one-then burned the village church (Photo: Human Rights Watch)

Y Ben Hdok who was alleged to have been murdered while in police custody (Photo: Montagnard Foundation)

Forced Renunciation of Faith, Harassment, Violence, and Arrests

Thursday April 14, 2011
By Dan Wooding

VIETNAM (ANS) -- The Vietnamese government has intensified repression of indigenous minority Christians from the country's Central Highland provinces who are pressing for religious freedom and land rights, Human Rights Watch ( has said in a just released report.

The 46-page report, "Montagnard Christians in Vietnam: A Case Study in Religious Repression," details the latest government crackdowns on these indigenous peoples, known collectively as Montagnards. The report documents police sweeps to root out Montagnards in hiding. It details how the authorities have dissolved house church gatherings, orchestrated coerced renunciations of faith, and sealed off the border to prevent asylum seekers from fleeing to Cambodia.

Human Rights Watch found that special "political security" (PA43) units conduct operations with provincial police to capture, detain, and interrogate people they identify as political activists or leaders of unregistered house churches. More than 70 Montagnards have been detained or arrested in 2010 alone, and more than 250 are known to be imprisoned on national security charges.

"Montagnards face harsh persecution in Vietnam, particularly those who worship in independent house churches, because the authorities don't tolerate religious activity outside their sight or control," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch. "The Vietnamese government has been steadily tightening the screws on independent Montagnards religious groups, claiming they are using religion to incite unrest."

Human Rights Watch documented the abuses in the Central Highlands, which is off-limits to independent, international rights groups, through interviews with Montagnards who have fled Vietnam and reports in Vietnam's government-controlled media.

In an interview with Human Rights Watch, one Montagnard described his treatment at T-20, the provincial prison in Gia Lai, after he was arrested for participating in a protest calling for religious freedom and land rights:

He said, "They questioned me at any time, even midnight. The police would get drunk, wake me up, and question me and beat me. They put me in handcuffs when they took me out for questioning. The handcuffs were like wire - very tight. They used electric shock on me every time they interrogated me.

They would shock me on my knees, saying, 'You used these legs to walk to the demonstration.'"

Sentenced to five years in prison for "violating national solidarity," he remains partially deaf from repeatedly being boxed on both ears:

"They would stand facing me and shout: 'One, two, three!' and then use both hands to box both of my ears at the same time. They would do this three times, the last time putting strong pressure on the ears," he went on to say. "Blood came out of my ears and my nose. I went crazy from this. It was so painful, and also the build-up made me very afraid and tense."

The government says that Montagnards, who belong to unregistered house churches outside the control of the official Southern Evangelical Church of Vietnam, are "Dega Protestants," which authorities allege is not a legitimate religious group but a cover for a Montagnard independence movement. Vietnamese law requires all religious groups to register with the government and operate under government-approved religious organizations.

Human Rights Watch called on the Vietnamese government to immediately end its systematic repression of Montagnards, allow independent religious organizations to conduct religious activities freely, and release all Montagnards imprisoned for peaceful religious or political activities. Until Vietnam improves its record on religious freedom, Human Rights Watch calls on the US government to reinstate Vietnam's designation as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for violations of religious freedom.

Using official Vietnamese media sources, Human Rights Watch documented the controversial practice of forced recantations of faith. Government officials have forced hundreds of Montagnard Catholics and Protestants to renounce their religion in public criticism sessions, violating internationally protected rights to freedom of religion and conscience. Those who resist and insist on their right to independent worship facing beatings, arrest, and imprisonment.

Provincial courts often hold "mobile trials" of people charged with national security crimes before hundreds of people, reinforcing the message not to follow unsanctioned religious groups.

"Freedom of religion does not mean freedom for state-sanctioned religions only," Robertson said. "Vietnam should immediately recognize independent religious groups and let them practice their beliefs."

While Protestant Montagnards have faced repression for many years, Catholic Montagnards have more recently become a target, particularly the "Ha Mon" Catholic sect, which started in Kon Tum in 1999. During 2010, officials charged that Montagnard exiles in the United States were manipulating the popular sect to undermine national unity. Forced renunciation ceremonies and public criticism meetings have been conducted in recent months in Kon Tum, Gia Lai, and Dak Lak provinces for Ha Mon followers, in which they are forced to confess to wrongdoings and to sign pledges to abandon the so-called "false religion."

"People in the Central Highlands who wish to worship in independent house churches risk public humiliation, violent reprisals, arrest, and even prison time," Robertson said.

The more than 250 Montagnards in prison or awaiting trial are charged with national security crimes such as "undermining national solidarity." Many former Montagnard political prisoners and detainees report that they were severely beaten or tortured in police custody and pre-trial detention. Since 2001, at least 25 Montagnards have died in prisons, jails, or police lock-ups after beatings or illnesses sustained while in custody, or shortly after being prematurely released by prison authorities to a hospital or home.

Examples of forced renunciations of faith and harassment of peaceful activists at public criticism meetings in the Central Highlands covered by Vietnamese state media in recent months include:
  • In November 2010, Bao Gia Lai, the newspaper of the Gia Lai province Communist Party, reported on the ongoing "Struggle to Eliminate Dega Protestantism" in Ia Grai and Duc Co districts of Gia Lai, where border soldiers were breaking up so-called "reactionary gangs" of Dega Protestants in the border areas and bringing them in for public criticism sessions.
  • In October 2010, Bao Gia Lai reported that 567 households related to Dega Protestantism were "renouncing" the religion in Krong Pa district, Gia Lai, with the commune chief making daily visits to pressure 15 households who eventually pledged to abandon their religion.
  • During September 2010, Cong An Nhan Dan (People's Police) newspaper reported that police in collaboration with local officials organized several public criticism ceremonies in Duc Co district, Gia Lai. In one session on September 29, 50 people from four villages in Duc Co district, Gia Lai, were summoned to be formally criticized in front of crowds of commune residents for having "disrupted security and order" during unrest at a rubber plantation on August 25, 2010. After admitting their wrongdoings, the report says, they pledged to abandon Dega Protestantism and other "reactionary" groups.
  • On July 12, 2010, Bao Gia Lai reported that 97 households, or 297 people, "voluntarily" abandoned Dega Protestantism in the villages of Tok and Roh, Chu Se district, Gia Lai.
  • On June 6, 2010, as part of an official public ceremony in Dak Mil district, Dak Nong province to begin a "mass movement to protect national security," Bao Dak Nong, the newspaper of the Dak Nong province Communist Party, reported, two men were brought forward to publicly confess to supporting Dega Protestantism and other "reactionary" groups.
Since 2001, thousands of Montagnards in Vietnam have fled harsh government crackdowns to Cambodia, where most have been recognized as refugees and resettled to the United States, Sweden, Finland, and Canada.

In December 2010, the Cambodian government ordered the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to close the Montagnard refugee center in Phnom Penh. With the center's closure on February 15, 2011, Montagnards seeking to escape repression in Vietnam are left with fewer options.

"Montagnards will continue to try to flee Vietnam as long as the Vietnamese government systematically violates their basic rights," said Robertson. "The Vietnamese government needs to end this repression immediately."


Anonymous said...

Communist Vietnam leaders from Hanoi have always created the wars and killing fields to wipe out of the people who are not parts of Vietnamese people (stupid gooks), stealing more land and natural resources for their ugly Vietgook people.

Please Khmer people help Montagnard Hill Tribes who are the victims of the fucking Communist Vietgook leaders and peoples.

Khmer Yeurng!

Anonymous said...

Fucken Bitch Ms Rattana Keo , We know you want to be the next Prime Minister Of Cambodia but the world know, your children know, your cheap low life parents in law know, your grandchildren know, your cheap low life husband know that you are a truly extraordinary threesome bitch! Threesome bitch is what you are! You and your group of friends are threesome bitches who created threesome cultures among Khmer communities! Your pussy is heap of men penis fully loaded cum inside you and your cheap low life husband cum after them inside you. Your husband is a fucken moron living off your money.

Fuck you for being shamelessly talk about Koh Tral Fish Sauce brand. Fuck you for creating hatred toward Viet people. Fuck you for being racist toward Viet people. Fuck you for killing Viet people. Fuck you threesome bitch and fuck your threesome friends.

Anonymous said...

2:33 PM

You are an Yuon/Viet, so that is why your words are so oppressing, invader people and communist regime.

We are not racist toward the innocence people but viets are the oppresseurs toward our people, especialy Khmer Kampuchea-Krom.

Your home land is in Hanoi but is nor in Champa country nor in Kampuchea-Krom.

Go home les viets oppresseurs !!!

Do not worry about Ms Rattana Keo,
we, khmers, will liberate our country soon from the oppresseur because those lands are our lands, our haritages, our bloods and our lives.

For 1000 years, Yuon/viet can get out of China becaue Hanoi/Tonking is Yuon/viet home/land, and why is khmer can not get out from Yuon/viet who just arrives in Sovannaphum lease than 70 years.

June 4th 1949 is a Kampuchea-Krom Lost Day. Every khmer celebrates this memory every year !

Go home Yuon/Viet !

The Great Khmer Empire said...

You know what? You're a dirty stupid viet. Ms. Keo Rattana just reported the truth. I support her 100%. Besides, you youn and siems are all thieves who stole khmer land and claim them as your own. It's a free world, she say anything she wants. You youn are always known as a dirty katorb.

Anonymous said...

The Devil is raging against those who believe on the ONE overcame him!
Your days are numbered you great serpent, God will destroy you!

...And they overcame him by the blood of the LAMB, meaning, Jesus Christ in physical death to the body but not the soul. Satan cannot destroy the soul. He can only destroy the body.

God will revenge the deaths of his saints when his judgment comes upon those who persecuted them.

Anonymous said...

human rights advocacy group should start focusing more on human rights abuse in youn country, really! youn and siem are the worst human rights abusers in asia, so stop picking on just cambodia, ok!

Anonymous said...

How Vietnam govt is Treating Montagnard,Khmer Krom,Lao,and Cambodian people in Southeast Asia?
The Vietnam govt is intending to wipe
out all these indigenous peoples:
Chams,Laos,Hmongs,Montagnard people,
Cambodians,Khmer Krom.
The 80% of Vietnamese are nonbelievers in any religions.

Anonymous said...

The history said,
the Montagnards in today Vietnam are Khmer People like the Khmer Surin, Khmer Krom and other of us.
They just live on the wrong place and wrong ideology. They have the same cultural background as our Khmer people in Mondulkiri and Rattanakkiri.
We only can resolve the problem, when we all Khmer unit and help each others.

Anonymous said...

@3:22 PM
LOL can't even speak English properly yet trying to be a thug using all those curse words thinking you would get your angers out when actually you look stupid as heck LOOOL.I feel embarrassing reading your post. Want to live as dictator built your own planet.F yourself.No need to f us,we can say word too.Your life peacefully while you still alive.When you die this is you going H-down