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Vietnam : Montagnards Face Religious, Political Persecution

ICC NOTE: This article reveals a particular trend concerning persecution: it usually occurs behind the scenes, out of site from the international community. From the surface, the case for persecution is usually weaker than it truly is. The international community has received enough reports of persecution and media on this region to be realistic about the situation. What is occurring in the Vietnamese Gia Province is exposed. The persecution of this predominantly Christian group of villages continues: torture, imprisonment, confiscation of lands, etc. Continue to be aware, pray, and start taking action on behalf of this people group.


Compiled by Kandy Ringer

June 14th

Vietnamese authorities have detained, interrogated, and even tortured Montagnard refugees and asylum seekers who have returned to Vietnam from U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps in Cambodia , Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government is violating an agreement with UNHCR, which is supposed to monitor returning refugees and ensure they are safe.

“The Vietnamese government continues to persecute Montagnards once they are out of the sight of international observers,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The international community should oppose their forced return to the Central Highlands as long as the authorities continue to persecute them.”

Human Rights Watch urged the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to review its participation in promoting and facilitating voluntary repatriation, given the disturbing accounts of mistreatment of returnees, as well as weaknesses in UNHCR’s monitoring mechanisms. It also called on the U.S. government to keep Vietnam on its list of “Countries of Particular Concern” for religious freedom violations, and urged Cambodia to continue to provide temporary asylum to Montagnards, in line with its obligations as a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Vietnamese officials continue to force Montagnard Christians to sign pledges renouncing their religion, despite passage of new regulations last year banning such practices. Authorities in some areas restrict freedom of movement between villages – in particular for religious purposes not authorized by the government – and ban Christian gatherings in many areas unless they are presided over by officially recognized pastors.

More worrisome, the Vietnamese government persists in criminalizing peaceful dissent, unsanctioned religious activity and efforts to seek sanctuary in Cambodia , by arresting and imprisoning Montagnards who engage in those activities. The most harshly treated are evangelical Christians who belong to independent or unregistered house churches and supporters of a non-violent movement for the protection of, and greater control over, ancestral lands.

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