Persecution of Degar Montagnards Continues

Monday, October 15, 2007

One Man Beaten Up; Another Has Hand Chopped Off

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (ANS) -- The indigenous Degar Montagnards continue to suffer persecution by the Vietnamese communist government.

A major advocacy group says that hundreds of Degar prisoners remain in prison for standing up for human rights, for spreading Christianity or for fleeing to Cambodia. Many have died from internal injuries caused by beatings. Indigenous rights are routinely violated, and racism and discrimination are serious problems in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

According to a news release from the Montagnard Foundation, on Sept. 27 2007, a Degar Christian named Y-Mau Eban and four of his friends took a walk outside their village of Buon Dung. While walking, a group of Vietnamese civilians were waiting to attack Degars for no other reason than racism.

The Vietnamese civilians grabbed Y-Mau Eban and severely beat him up, damaging his right eye. The others fled back to their village as a crowd of Vietnamese villagers armed with sticks and knives ran at them.

Y-Mau Eban was left there seriously injured, but the villagers soon returned and took him to the hospital in the city of Buonmathuot.

The Montagnard Foundation is dedicated to helping the Degar peoples.

In another story of violence story a few days later, about 20 Vietnamese civilians carrying machetes, knives, iron bars and rocks from the same group that attacked Y-Mau Eban got ready to attack and kill Degars leaving the village of Buon Dung.

According to the Montagnard Foundation this is what happened.

On Oct. 5, three Christian left their village to buy ice cubes at the Vietnamese market close by. They all lived in Buon Dung village.

While they were talking to the ice seller, the Vietnamese civilians surrounded and attacked them. A Christian man called Y-Hat Mlo had a machete swung at his head, but his right hand was cut off as he tried to block it. He was hospitalized at Buonmathuot city. Another Christian man called Y-Cuen Eban was also cut by a knife, and his friend Y-Be Nie was knocked unconscious by a rock thrown at his head.

Then at about 8 p.m. on Oct. 5, the Montagnard Foundation reported, about 50 Vietnamese civilians carrying machetes, axes, knives and sticks entered the village of Buon Dung planning to kill some Degar people. However, villagers confronted them and the Vietnamese civilians left. Then at about 10 p.m. more Vietnamese civilians returned and broke in three Degar’s brick houses. They destroyed the houses and stole everything inside. This time, the Montagnard Foundation reported, the Degar villagers did not come out because the Vietnamese civilians carried rifles.

The Montagnard Foundation wrote, “These actions suggest the Vietnamese government and people are racist against the Degar people, and the government views our people as unequal citizens. It appears these actions are nothing less than racist hatred.”

The Montagnard Foundation pointed out that the Vietnamese government has voted in favor of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The Foundation is calling on the 143 countries who voted for this declaration to put pressure on Vietnam government and its people to respect the rights of the Degars.

In addition, the Foundation said it is calling on the American government, the European Union, and other members of the international community to consider a permanent humanitarian presence in the Central Highlands. It would also like the international community to address the land rights issue and religious persecution facing the Degar Montagnards.

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