ICC Note: More people are becoming aware of the Vietnamese government persecution of the Montagnards in the Vietnam highlands. It is important to keep pressure is kept on the governments that are either committing the persecution, or those aiding in it by not living up to their international obligations.
By Michael Sainsbury
06/26/2015 Vietnam (UCA News)
The Vietnamese government has come under fire for its ongoing persecution of Christian Montagnards in a comprehensive report on the plight of the ethnic group by New York-based Human Rights Watch.
The sensitivity of the subject was made more pointed after Thailand’s military junta cancelled its launch at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand on Friday, citing diplomatic relations with Vietnam.
The closure marked the third time in less than a month that the junta has canceled an FCCT press event, but previous Thai regimes have also shut down Montagnard-related report launches under pressure from Hanoi.
The latest report, titled Persecuting “Evil Way” Religion: Abuses against Montagnards in Vietnam, documents the escalating efforts of Vietnam’s Communist Party regime to ratchet up the suppression of the ethnic group.
“Vietnam’s official media make it shockingly clear that persecution of religious minorities is state policy,” Brad Adams, HRW Asia director said in a statement.
“The government should discard its Cold War mentality of treating people of different religions as the ‘enemy within’ and respect their basic right to religious freedom.”
The report saves some of its most damning commentary for the countries to which the Montagnards flee, particularly Cambodia, one of the few nations in ASEAN that is signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. As such, it is “bound not to return a refugee or asylum seeker to any country where their life or freedom is at risk”.
Yet, as the report makes clear, Cambodia routinely flouts it obligations with respect to the Montagnards. In January 2015 it inked an agreement with Vietnam to return Montagnard asylum seekers.