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26 May 2006
 

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RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION CONTINUES IN VIETNAM AS DEGAR CHRISTIANS ARE TORTURED FOR THEIR FAITH

 

BACKGROUND: The indigenous Montagnards (Degar) Peoples have suffered decades of persecution by the Vietnamese government, namely; confiscation of their ancestral lands, Christian religious repression, torture, killings and imprisonment. In May 2006 the US State Department has continued to maintain Vietnam on the “watch list” of countries that are the worst violators of religious freedom and o ver 300 Degars remain in Vietnamese prisons. Religious and ethnic persecution continues against the Degar people while Vietnam continues negotiations for accession into the World Trade Organization. Vietnam also continues to take repressive measures to prevent human rights abuses from reaching the international community however, the following abuses have just been received from inside the Central Highlands.

ARRESTED, TORTURED 19 MARCH 2006: At approximately 7 am on March 19, 2006 police from Cu Se District arrested Degar Christian Rmah Pla, (age 39) at his village of Plei Sur. He was taken to the police station in Cu Se District and tortured severely by beatings when he arrived at the local prison. Details of his current situation are unknown.

ARRESTED, TORTURED 16 MAY 2006: At approximately 8 am May 16, 2006 police from Krong Pa District summoned the three Christian Degars below to come to the communal committee office at Ia Dreh commune, Krong Pa District, Gialai Province . The Degars were all from Bon Djrong village, Ia Dreh Commune, Krong Pa District, Gialai Province and their names are:

  • Kpa Yim , age 29 (male)

  • Siu Long , age 33 (male)

  • Rahlan Thung , age 64 (male)

When three Degar Christians arrived at the communal committee office the police told them they must follow Siu Kim's church (the official government church). The three responded, “We do not want to follow Siu Kim or his church because we do not worship Siu Kim or his church. We worship only God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. The police then made them stand against the wall holding out their arms horizontally. Then the police started beating, kicking, punch them until they fell unconscious. The torture continued for approximately 2 hours and all three of our Christian brothers had blood coming from their mouth, nose and ears. Police then let them go but the brothers are suffering injuries from the severe torture. The names of two police officers who tortured them are:

  • Lt. Colonel Hoang Chi Thuat , police officer from Krong Pa District

  • 1 st Lieutenant Pham Nhat Toan, police officer from Krong Pa District

ARRESTED, TORTURED 13 MARCH 2006: On March 13, 2006 four police officers from Quang Ngai Province named Hung, Khue, Tra and a fourth one (name unknown) who were operating in the local area, went to the commune of Bongong, in Cu Se District, Gialai Province and arrested the two Degar Christians below.

  • Ku, age 33 (male), scripture reader from the village of Plei Thong, Bongong commune, Cu Se District, Gialia Province.

  • Bin, 32 (male), hymn teacher from the village of Plei Thong , Bongong commune, Cu Se District, Gialai Province.

At around 6:00 o'clock pm the police accused these Degar Christians, stating “you are trouble makers spreading Gospel to other people in this area that made them not to follow the official church”. The Degar Christians responded by saying “it is not true. How could we get out of our village while your police forces have surrounded our village and blocked all of roads and trails around our village and besides you have arrested, tortured and imprisoned some of our people who had tried to visit their relatives in other villages?”

The police then commenced torturing them by kicking and stomping on them with their military boots, beating them with batons, punching them on their stomach and sides until they were unconscious. The police continuously tortured them from 6 pm until 11 pm and finally released them on March 15, 2006 threatening them more will follow if they don't' follow the church of Siu Kim and Siu Pek . They now suffer injuries without proper receiving medical treatment.  

THE MONTAGNARD FOUNDATION CALLS ON CONCERNED EMBASSIES IN VIETNAM AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO:

  • Urgently raise this religious persecution with authorities in Vietnam in order to prevent an escalation of violence in the region and that Vietnam ceases such persecution before Vietnam be granted entry into the World Trade Organization

  • Ensure all Degar Prisoners are fully accounted for and released from Vietnamese Prisons before Vietnam be granted entry into the World Trade Organization and in particular ensure the safety of the victims in this report.

  • Ensure a permanent presence is established to monitor the human rights situation in the Central Highlands by UN and international agencies and international NGOs.

  • Ensure that Vietnamese authorities bring to justice the police who tortured the Degar Christians above, namely: Lt. Colonel Hoang Chi Thuat and 1 st Lieutenant Pham Nhat Toan, officers from Krong Pa District and four police officers from Quang Ngai Province named Hung, Khue, Tra and a fourth one (name unknown) who were operating in the local area of Cu Se District, Gialai Province.  

 

 
 

 

 

 
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