Degar Montagnard Christian Receives House Arrest In Vietnam

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- An active Degar Montagnard Christian remained under house arrest in Vietnam's Central Highlands Monday, September 8, after he was already forced to sign a statement renouncing Christianity and pledging to stop attending a local church, his friends said.

The Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI), which represents Degar Montagnard Christians, said Vietnamese security detained 36-year-old Y Hning following his failed attempt to seek asylum in neighboring Combodia because of alleged religious and ethnic persecution in Vietnam

Hnin reportedly fled his native Ploi Todrah village in Vietnam's Gia Lai province in November and arrived at a United Nations refugee camp in neighboring Cambodia. However he was eventually deported by Cambodian authorities.

It was not immediately clear Monday, September 9, what role the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) played in his repatriation. MFI has in the past expressed concerns over the repatriation of Degar Montagnards, a mainly Christian hill tribe, after the UNHCR said they had received assurances from Vietnamese authorities that they would not be harmed.


However, MFI said, that, "Back in Vietnam police forced Hning's [farming] family to pay 100,000 Vietnam Dong (about $6) a major amount for impoverished farmers. On August 3, the family was allegedly further required to "donate" a pig, the only animal it had left for a party by local police.

Five days later, Hning was forced to sign a a controversial statement in which he formally renounced Christianity and pledged to stop attending the Degar church, according to MFI investigators. "Now he is under house arrest and in fear for his life," MFI said in published remarks. Under house arrest he cannot work in his family’s fields, but he has received "further threats" if he leaves his house, MFI added.

The US-based MFI said it is appealing on his behalf to embassies and international agencies to pressure authorities to and the “persecution” of him and his family. Hning's case has underscored international concerns over the treatment of Degar Montagnars in Vietnam. Hundreds of predominantly Christian Degar Montagnard are imprisoned in Vietnam, according to rights groups.

Vietnamese officials have denied reports of wrongdoing, and accuse groups such as MFI of spreading Western propaganda to discredit the Communist-run Asian nation. Analysts have linked the reported persecution to both the Christian faith and he Degar Montagnards' past support for American forces during the Vietnam War.

Copyright 2008 BosNewsLife. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without our prior written consent.