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Montagnard Foundation welcomes US State Department’s news of no abuse of refugees in the Central Highlands

2/6/07 Vietnam (Montgnard Foundation) THE MONTAGNARD FOUNDATION RESPONDS: to the 5 February 2007 news report published by the Associated Press titled “ U.S. official finds no abuse of refugees in Vietnam ‘s Central Highlands. The Montagnard Foundation states that the news in this article indicating that the Central Highlands is opening to the international community is long awaited good news and we sincerely thank US Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey for visiting the seven returned refugees. The Montagnard Foundation is thankful for the diplomatic efforts made on their behalf and is grateful that human rights dialogue between the United States and Vietnam is progressing. The Montagnard Foundation states that it is now even more important than ever for the release of Degar Montagnard prisoners namely the 350 Degar Prisoners identified in the Human Rights Watch report of 14 June 2006. The 350 Degar prisoners are all in custody for non-violent activities related to human rights issues of indigenous land rights and religious freedom.

President of the Montagnard Foundation states: “Many of the 350 Degar Montagnard prisoners currently suffering in Vietnam ’s prisons were imprisoned for the exact same reasons as the seven returnees that Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey just visited. Thus, there is no reason to keep the 350 prisoners incarcerated any longer and it is noted these prisoners have not committed crimes of violence and would not be imprisoned if they lived in free democratic societies. Vietnam as a new member of the WTO should show compassion for its indigenous people according to internationally recognized standards of human rights and should release our 350 Christian brothers and sisters from prison immediately.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DEGAR MONTAGNARD PRISONERS SEE:

Human Rights Watch Report 350 Prisoners http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/14/vietna13542.htm

Montagnard Foundation Website: http://www.montagnard-foundation.org/homepage.html