Rescuing and serving persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

(Reuters) – Australian embassy officials deny its diplomats have made public remarks about a visit to Vietnam ‘s restive Central Highlands to assess human rights conditions. The Vietnam News Agency reported on Saturday that Australian Foreign Ministry officials “acknowledged that there were no signs of violation of human rights and discrimination in Gia Lai [province]”. The report added the officials had said “genuine equality reigns among the community of ethnic groups”. An embassy official says a group of seven embassy and visiting officials visited Gia Lai and Daklak provinces on the weekend. “We have made no public comment and have given no interviews,” the official said. It is the second time this year diplomats have openly disagreed with state media reports on visits to the communist country’s coffee-growing highlands. Travel to the area by envoys and foreign media is restricted and tightly supervised. Four ambassadors who went to the region in May disavowed comments attributed to them that praised the development in Daklak province. The two provinces saw an outbreak of demonstrations in April by hill tribe minorities known loosely as Montagnards, many of whom practise Protestantism. Human rights groups say the unrest was over land and religious rights, and were a repeat of larger protests in February 2001 that the Vietnamese Government quelled with military forces. The Vietnamese Government blames overseas groups for instigating the unrest. Some of the minority tribes accuse the Government of seizing ancestral lands and of discrimination against them in favour of the majority Kinh population. The region is among the poorest in Vietnam .