OPEN LETTER TO US PRESIDENT GEORGE W.BUSH
PLEASE REMEMBER THE MONTAGNARD DEGAR PEOPLE AMERICA S LOYAL ALLIES
4 June 2007
To the kind attention of:
President George W. Bush, The White House, Washington , DC , USA
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for liberty, we will stand with you.
President George W. Bush in his second inaugural speech, 2005
Dear Honorable President George W. Bush
I am writing you today concerning the United States , its relationship with Vietnam and our people the Degar Montagnards in light of Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triets June 2007 diplomatic visit to Washington . This letter is written on behalf of our people in Vietnam who have long suffered repression.
As you may know the Montagnard Degar people were allies to the United States during the Vietnam War and US Veterans came to know our people like brothers. In fact during the Vietnam War our people were considered one of America s most loyal allies and it is estimated that at any one time over 40,000 Montagnards served alongside their American comrades. Throughout the decades long war it is estimated 100,000 Montagnards served with the US military and by the end of the war over a quarter of our population, over 200,000 people had died, including half of all adult males being killed. Upon taking over South Vietnam the communists enacted revenge against our race, killing or imprisoning our leaders and Christian pastors. One of those victims was my Uncle, a civilian congressman for the Montagnards who was publicly executed in 1975. Ever since the Vietnamese government has continued land exploitation, Christian persecution, torture, killings and imprisonment of our people. Religious persecution continues today as authorities torture house church Christians who resist joining the official church. We note the US International Commission for Religious Freedom recently called for Vietnam to be placed back on the Countries of Particular Concern Watch List for continued violations of religious freedom.
Human Rights Watch has reported over 350 of our people that were imprisoned for peacefully demonstrating for human rights, for spreading Christianity or for fleeing to Cambodia . Many of our prisoners have been specifically beaten to deliberately cause a slow death from internal injuries. One of our people a Christian man named Y-Ngo Adrong was tortured to death on 13 July 2006 – of which the US State Department described as a credible report of extrajudicial killing by security forces. The Central and Northern Highlands of Vietnam remains an isolated and vastly different region than other parts of Vietnam and we note the State Departments Human Rights Report of March 2007 reported, The government continued to impose extra security measures in the central highlands. To our people this means surveillance, arrests, beatings, electric shock torture, imprisonment and murdering.
On behalf of the Montagnard Degar people inside Vietnam who suffer discrimination, religious and ethnic persecution by the Vietnamese communist government the Montagnard Foundation would like to ask you to remember the Montagnard Degar people in your discussions with the Vietnamese President and other Vietnamese officials. A permanent solution is needed, to address the issues in order for both the United States and Vietnam to prosper and work together in the future. The recent crackdown in Vietnam is disappointing and our people are dismayed that hundreds of our people are arrested, tortured and some killed and yet we hear little news of hope for our peoples future. Our organization too, has raised over a quarter of a million dollars which we offer as humanitarian aid for our poorest of the poor. We discussed this with the State Department this year but due to the difficult political situation it is doubtful the repressive Vietnamese regime will allow humanitarian aid to be distributed to our poor. We note the Montagnard Degar boy pictured on the front of this letter is a victim of the Vietnamese authoritarian regime. He lives in the United States now, but several years ago he was tortured because his father was hiding from Vietnamese security police. The police tortured this child and he suffers a permanent forehead wound as result of the beating he received. You can hear his testimony on Youtube along with other torture victims. Please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOSKDjYPyXU
Mr. President, We ask that you:
Ø Strongly urge Vietnam to release all of the estimated 350 Montagnard Degar Prisoners from Vietnamese prisons. See Human Rights Watch report 14 June 2006 for prisoner list: http://hrw.org/reports/2006/vietnam0606/
Ø Strongly ensure that a permanent humanitarian presence in the Central Highlands becomes a priority for US/Vietnam relations.
Ø Reconsider placing Vietnam back on the CPC list to show that religious freedom is truly honored by the United States .
Ø Ask the State Department to work with the Montagnard Foundation rather than keep us at arms length, in order to facilitate a proactive and peaceful solution to the complex issues facing US/Vietnam relations.
We are not asking the United States to abandon relations with Vietnam and we do not want progress between the United States and Vietnam to be stifled. We know the world of politics is complex but we cry out in desperation to you. Inside the Central Highlands our people desperately await to hear some news that an American President has remembered them.
Mr. President, please remember the Montagnard Degar People.
Sincerely and God Bless,
President of the Montagnard Foundation, Inc