Vietnam Launching Massive Crackdown On Degar Montagnard Christians

Thursday, September 18, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- There was concern Wednesday, September 17, about the whereabouts of possibly dozens of Degar Montagnard Christians who have been detained in Vietnam’s Central Highlands as part of a major crackdown on unregistered worship, friends said.

The Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI), a major religious advocacy group, told BosNewsLife that 30 Vietnamese security forces surrounded a Degar Montagnard village to detain Y-Ruk Buon Ya, 19, Y-Yong Hwing and 20-year-old Y-Than Buon Ya, apparently because of their Christian activities.

"They remain in prison and all three Christian Degars are from Cuor Knia village, Buon Don District, Dak Lak Province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands," MFI added. Earlier on August 3, Vietnamese security forces and district officials briefly detained Puih Kui, 19, Rmah H’Di, 44, Rmah H’En, 45, and Puih Henh, 20, the group said.

"These villagers were members of the Degar Christian church and are from the village of Ploi Bang, Ia Chia commune, Ia Grai district in Gia Lai province,” MFI explained. “All are now released but when they were in police custody, each of the above four individuals were interrogated separately."


However the Christian mother of Puih Kui, who has been detained since April, remains in prison, MFI said. On July 30 and July 31 at least five Degar Montagnard Christians were detained for their membership of a native Christian church and their refusal to join the Communist government backed congregation, MFI told BosNewsLife.

One of them, whose identity was not released, remains in prison in the district of Mang Yang. Plung in Gia Lai Province, the group said. The other detained four Christians, were identified as Noh, 51, from Ploi Brel Dor 1 village, Yu, born 71, from Ploi Brel Dor 2 village, Yuh, 46, fom Ploi Brel Dor 2 village, and Amlinh, 70, from Ploi Tuoh Ktu village.

"When they arrived at the police station, the security forces arrested them claiming they and their church are planning some kind of revolt against the Vietnamese government. Each of the Degar Christians denied these allegations stating they only want to worship God. These Christians remain in prison and all are from Gia Lai province," MFI said.

The group said it has also learned that Christians were detained in Gia Lia Province. Kleng, 57, from Ploi Bong Mor village, Du, 30, from Ploi Bong Mor village, Sunh, 29, from Ploi De Kop village, Hlin, 26, from Ploi De Kop village, Roh, 46, from Ploi Kon Brung village, and Phe, 41, from Ploi Kon Brung village, were detained July 25.


MFI also said that a day earlier Vietnamese security forces detained Choh, 39, Chut, 26, Kun, 38, Uh, 28, in the province of Gia Lai for their involvement in a Degar Montagnard church. The group said the arrests were part of a major crackdown on unregistered religious activities in the Communist-run Asian nation.

"The government has further trained over 21,000 religious workers to infiltrate, monitor and repress religious freedom," said MFI, which has close contacts with Christians in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. The Vietnamese authorities have denied wrongdoing, saying reports of human rights abuses are Western propaganda.

Earlier this year, the US International Commission of Religious Freedom reportedly recommended the US State Department to reclassify Vietnam as "a nation that commits the most serious violations of religious freedom."

Observers have linked the crackdown to frustration among Vietnamese Communist officials about the Christian faith of Degar Montagnards, the mainly traditional Christian tribes people, and their alleged support for American forces during the Vietnam War.

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