Senator Brownback Decries Montagnard Slayings

(ICC) U.S. Senator Sam Brownback yesterday sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell urging him to declare Vietnam a “Country of Particular Concern” and investigate reports of egregious violence against native Montagnard peoples over Easter weekend. “I am deeply saddened by the deplorable events in the Central Highlands of Vietnam during Easter weekend,” wrote Brownback. “I am continuing to receive reports of a sweeping crackdown by the government of Vietnam against ethnic Montagnards, including deaths and injuries. I remain deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation and access to adequate water, food and medical attention. I am also concerned about increasing reports of actions taken by the government against bystanders of the protest.” Eyewitnesses of the attacks reported unknown numbers of deaths, violent beatings, and missing persons. The area has been closed off by Vietnamese officials, and despite requests by U.S. diplomats, no one has been given access to the region. Some reports indicate that Montagnards fleeing to Cambodia are routinely deported back to Vietnam. The Vietnamese Central Highlands area has been closed off, flights to the region have been canceled since Saturday and roads leading to the area are blocked. A U.S. Embassy delegation attempting to visit the area was forced by Vietnamese police to turn back. Senator Brownback is chairman of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.