Montagnard Foundation Releases Report on Ethnic Cleansing

Montagnard Foundation Releases Report on Ethnic Cleansing

ICC Note:

The Montagnard Foundation has released a report on Vietnam documenting what they call the government’s “blueprint for Ethnic cleansing.” The press release is a summary of the government’s consistent efforts to eradicate the Degar population, including many accounts of religious persecution when the government comes into conflict with Christian Degars, specifically the underground churches who refuse to join the government-sanctioned church of Vietnam.

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6/1/08 Vietnam (MontagnardFoundation)

This report documents the case of ethnic cleansing directed against the indigenous Degar Montagnards (“Degar people”) of Vietnam ’s central highlands. Over the preceding decades since 1975 the Vietnamese government has implemented various strategies resulting in the political, ethnic and religious repression against the Degar people. Examining the evidence collectively, a blueprint of ethnic cleansing emerges as these human rights violations, including official and spontaneous transmigration policies, large scale deforestation, abuse of family planning methods, religious persecution, land confiscation, torture and extrajudicial killing, have been directed against a specific race of indigenous peoples. Since the year 2000 thousands of Degar people have been arrested in a policy of “arrest, torture and release” while hundreds of Degars in 2008 remain in prison. The latest torture killings of Degar Christians includes the April 2008 murder of two Degar children and the torture killing of a Degar man who had a rope placed around his neck by security police and was dragged by a vehicle until he died (details on page 4 -5).

Human Rights Watch has documented over 350 Degar prisoners who remain in Vietnamese prisons, many convicted in secret one-day trials on trumped-up charges relating to peaceful protests for human rights, for spreading Christianity or for attempting to flee to Cambodia . See: http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/14/vietna13542.htm

Religious repression of Christianity, particular repression against independent house church Protestantism practiced by many Degar people has long been part of Vietnamese government policy. Officially the policy is called “Plan 184″ and was initially exposed by Freedom House in the late 1990s. This policy included repressing Christianity including forcing Degar people to renounce their Christian faith in official ceremonies, under threat of imprisonment and torture and included actual renunciation ceremonies conducted by authorities who using threats of torture and arrest would force Degar Christians to drink rice wine mixed with animal blood. These barbaric procedures were actually documented by the US State Department and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Human Rights Watch also confirmed such, reporting that, “Beginning in June [2001], provincial authorities conducted dozens of ceremonies in the Central Highlands in which Montagnards who had participated in the February demonstrations were forced to read confessions about their alleged wrongdoings and renounce Christianity in front of entire villages, sealing their pledges by mandatory drinking of rice wine mixed with goat’s blood.”

On February 28, 2008, Vietnamese security officials, from Kpang district, along with 100 soldiers surrounded a Degar Christian man’s family home and farmlands. The security officials demanded the Degar Christian named Dinh Plok and his family sign documents renouncing their Christian faith. Dinh Plok and his family all refused to sign the renouncement papers and the security forces forced the family out of their home at gunpoint to a nearby wooded area. Dinh Plok was told that his farm and house now belonged to the government and that if he or any of his family or relatives stepped foot on those lands again, they would be immediately killed.

In essence this appalling situation facing the Degar refugees (being hunted down by Cambodian and Vietnamese authorities while being sidelined by the international community) symbolizes the fate of the entire Degar population in Vietnam . The Degar people are trapped in Vietnam and face brutal persecution with little recourse. The future of these indigenous peoples is in doubt as religious persecution and ethnic exploitation continues, in what appears nothing short of a blueprint for ethnic cleansing.

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