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(ICC) The European Union expressed concern Tuesday about bloody clashes that erupted after security forces broke up protests by ethnic minority Protestants over Easter in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. “The EU called on the authorities to fully respect international human rights standards in their longer-term response to the protests of Easter weekend and to allow peaceful demonstrations to take place,” it said “Furthermore, the EU requested the authorities to investigate the grievances of the ethnic minority people in the Central Highlands, to address them and to respect their freedom of religion.” During the Easter holiday, clashes erupted when police used tear gas, electric truncheons, and water cannons to prevent the demonstrators from entering the city, arresting dozens of people, according to the New York-based organization. The group said it had received eyewitness reports of protestors being beaten to death by security forces outside Buon Ma Thuot, as well as unconfirmed reports of police casualties. Similar demonstrations and arrests were made in neighbouring Gia Lai province, it said. Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Van Bang also dismissed the claims Tuesday, telling a business luncheon in Hanoi that only two people had died and that “about a dozen were wounded on both sides”. He also blamed the MFI for instigating the unrest but he conceded that there were “some difficulties” in the region. International journalists have so far been denied permission to visit the region because the situation was considered “too dangerous” for them, according to Bang.