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Montagnards: Afraid of Losing their lands

ICC NOTE: This The Montagnards Degar people are a usual target for the Vietnamese officials to attack and steal from in the name of the government. It is not ironic that this particular group of villages is predominately Christian. It is very important that we be praying that the people are receiving medical treatment for injuries from the torturing, and beatings; and be praying especially for the baby who was recently sprayed with mace. Pray for justice: that the people may keep their lands. For further action: pressure the U.S. government and our embassy in Vietnam, as well as other international players, to protect the people from human rights violations and fight for justice.

Source: Montagnards Foundation, Inc

June 7th, 2006

Below is a press release by Montagnards Foundation, Inc further to the latest development in which Vietnamese forest ministry officials attack Montagnards Degars in order to confiscate and sell their farmlands and a Monagnard baby named “SIU H’GAI” sprayed with Chemical Mace.

BACKGROUND: The indigenous Montagnard Degar Peoples have suffered decades of persecution by the government of Vietnam , namely; confiscation of their ancestral lands, Christian religious repression, torture, killings and imprisonment. In May 2006 the US State Department has continued to maintain Vietnam on the “watch list” of countries that are the worst violators of religious freedom. To date over 350 Degar prisoners remain in Vietnamese prisons for charges involving standing up for human rights, for spreading Christianity or for fleeing to Cambodia . For decades the Montagnard Degar people have had their ancestral lands confiscated by authorities, a discriminatory practice that forces these peoples into poverty and malnutrition. Our sources inside the Central Highlands reported the incidents below also stated baby was screaming in it’s mothers arms for a long time. The officials used chemical-mace on the victims including spraying a baby only a few months old.

On April 18, 2006, Rmah Suan age 28, from the village of Ploi Poi “B”, Ia Ale commune, Cu Se District, Gialai Province, with his wife Siu H’Blaih and their three children Siu Anuan (age 5), Siu H’Biap (age 3) and Siu H’Gai who is only a few months old were at their rice fields approximately 7 km far from their village. At approximately 7 o’clock in the morning Rmah Suan was planting rice while his wife and children were cooking rice at their nearby farm hut. The five Vietnamese Forest Ministry officials named Trung, Chinh, Quyen , Nam and fifth official’s name was unknown, arrived and told Rmah Suan “You cannot plant rice on this land because it belongs to the government”. Rmah Suan responded that, this land belonged to his great-great grand parents and his family has lived on this farmland for generations. He responded, “Why does it now suddenly belong to the government?”
The five officials then threw the basket of rice seeds on the ground and attacked Rmah Suan by punching and kicking him until he was bleeding from his nose, ears, mouth. Rmah Suan passed out unconscious and the officials sprayed him with some kind of chemical liquid in his face and eyes. The officials they went to the hut where his wife and children were and beat his wife and sprayed the chemical liquid in all their faces including the baby who is only a few months old. They threatened the wife to get off these lands and left her there with the children screaming from being sprayed with the chemicals.

If Degars are mistreated and then complain to government officials, they are then accused of being against the government, or for following “outside forces” and punished. The Montagnard people only desire that their people be treated equally and that Vietnamese officials do not persecute them and cheat them.

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