By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- Degar Montagnard Christians in Vietnam's Central Highlands faced another tense day Monday, October 6, after investigators confirmed that a preacher was killed, apparently by Vietnamese security forces, as part of a crackdown on Christianity and 'house churches' in the area.
"On August 26, our Christian brother, Mup, 47, was found beaten to death some 100 meters from his village" Ploi Rong Khong in Dak Doa District of the province of Gia Lai, said the Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI), an advocacy group of the mainly Christian tribes people in the Central Highlands. People in the area are often only identified with one name.
News of the killing only emerged now, apparently because relatives were intimidated by authorities. "The Vietnamese government will continue to use fear methods such as arrest, torture, imprisonment and even murder to silence indigenous Degar Montagnard people from getting words out to the outside world so that they can carry out their genocidal policy quietly," MFI President Kok Ksor told BosNewsLife.
Vietnamese authorities have strongly denied MFI reports of wrongdoing, describing them as Western propaganda. MFI said Mup was killed after refusing to show up at the local headquarters of Vietnamese security police, despite being summoned three times.
REPORTS OF BRUTALITY
"Because Mup had heard many reports of brutality by the Vietnamese officials against Degar Christians, he was afraid and decided not to show up. Many Christians have been beaten, tortured, imprisoned, poisoned and ultimately murdered."
MFI said the latest incident comes amid widespread human rights violations against Christians. "The Vietnamese government will never stop murdering Degar Montagnard Christians and people in general as long as many governments in the world keep covering up its human rights violations in the Central Highlands and in Vietnam as whole."
The group said many Degar Montagnard Christians remain detained in Vietnam, including 46-year-old Roh and Phe, 41. The two Christians were detained as part of a fresh crackdown on unregistered Christian worship in the Central Highlands which began in July, according to MFI and other rights investigators.
Church groups have linked the crackdown to concern among the Communist authorities about the spread of Christianity and mushrooming house churches run by Degar Montagnards, which operate outside the official denominations. Officials are also upset about the Degar Montagnards' past support for American troops during the Vietnam War, observers say.
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