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Degar Montagnard Family Punished For Fleeing To Cambodia : Former Asylum Seekers Brutally Tortured And Imprisoned

7/18/07 Vietnam (Montagnard Foundation) — The mother and father of the Christian Degar Montagnard family (below) has suffered torture and imprisonment for having fled Vietnam and then returning, while their children were abandoned by police.

  • H’Thui Ya (wife) born 1978 from Buon U village, commune Ea Tling, district DakMil, Dak Nong province. Sentenced to 3 years 7 months imprisonment in June 2007
  • Y-Thot Butrang (husband) born 1962 from Buon U village, commune Ea Tling, district Dak Mil, Dak Nong province. Sentenced to 11 years imprisonment in 2002
  • H’Phiwana (5 year old daughter) was born in 2002. Now without parents.
  • Y-Tuwani (4 year old son) was born in 2003. Now without parents.

Their story is as follows: Y-Thot Butrang and his wife H’Thui Ya are Degar Montagnard Christians who had fled repression in Vietnam ’s Central Highlands in 2001. They crossed the Cambodian border and soon became refugees residing in the United Nations refugee camp in Mondolkiri province, Cambodia . In 2001 and 2002 Vietnamese officials came into the camp and announced that Vietnam would not harm any refugees who returned back to Vietnam . In 2002 Y-Thot Butrang and his wife H’Thui Ya decided to go back to Vietnam and left the UNHCR camp.

2002: When they arrived back in Vietnam the husband Y-Thot Butrang however, was arrested, brutally beaten and sentenced to imprisonment for 11 years. He is currently in Ha Nam prison.

14 December 2006 the Vietnamese government then arrested Y-Thot Butrang’s wife, H’Thui Ya, and left her two children at home alone. The authorities did not tell anyone where she was held and her two children cried often suffering from distress at having both parents taken away.

25 December 2006 (Christmas Day) two ladies from the family’s village took the two children and visited all the nearby police stations in the provinces of Daklak and Daknong searching for the mother but the police would not give them any information.

14 May 2007 the two ladies again took the children and went searching for their mother and they finally located the children’s mother at Daknong province prison. The police made them wait in a room while they went to get H’Thui Ya from her prison cell. H’Thui Ya could barely walk as she had been permanently chained to stocks with her legs chained between two logs. She had also been beaten and tortured in prison. Her face was pale as she had been deprived of food, her legs bruised and swollen. When she met with her children, all of them burst into tears and they cried as they were happy to see each other. But the police allowed her to see her children only 30 minutes and then dragged her away back to prison cell number 5. At this time the children were screaming and crying uncontrollably for their mother but the police separated them permitting only a 30 minute visit.

1 June 2007 the Vietnamese government sentenced H’Thui Ya, to 3 years and 7 months imprisonment because she had illegally crossed the Cambodian border (she voluntarily returned back to Vietnam ) and for refusing to join the government sanctioned Church. She was sentenced by the Court of Dak Mil district in Dak Nong province.