Vietnam Security Forces "Torturing" Detained Montagnard Christians

Friday, May 4, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- Two Degar Montagnard Christians have been detained and tortured in Vietnam's Central Highlands after security forces discovered they had been collecting names of the most impoverished people apparently to better target aid, fellow believers told BosNewsLife Thursday, May 3.

The Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI), which represents indigenous Degar Montagnard Christians said it learned that security police "tortured" Y-Drin Nie "by hanging him upside down" and used "martial arts [such as] boxing, karate chopping and kicking...until he was unconscious," at the prison in Buon Ma Thuot, the capital of Dak Lak province.

Security forces allegedly poured water over him "until he awoke" only to "repeated the torture again and again." His family and MFI "are extremely concerned for his welfare as he is still in prison," following his arrest April 25, the group told BosNewsLife.

"They suspected him of collecting the names of the poorest Degar [Montagnard] families," MFI
added. Earlier on April 4, Siu H'Thik was summoned by security police from the commune of Cu A in Gia Lai province for interrogation as she also allegedly collected names of impoverished people.


"When Siu H’Thik arrived at the police station, the police aggressively grabbed her, hand cuffed her and took her to an unknown prison," MFI claimed.

Family members and relatives have reportedly expressed concern about the situation of the 38-year-old woman from Plei Cuet village in Gia Lai "because it is common knowledge that security forces torture and maltreat Degar Montagnard prisoners," MFI said.

There are roughly 350 Degar Montagnards held in prisons across Vietnam, in many cases on charges related to their Christian faith and work or attempts to flee to neighboring Cambodia. Some of them have reportedly died because of torture. Vietnamese officials have denied charges of human rights abuses.


MFI told BosNewsLife that the latest arrests are a setback for attempts to provide humanitarian aid to people inside the Central Highlands, amid reports of malnutrition.

The group said it has "previously provided information to the US State Department" including about the situation of over 6000 Degar Montagnard people "who are suffering [under] extreme poverty."

MFI said it has received "information regularly from inside Vietnam from villagers all over the region who report that repression by security forces and the situation regarding poverty and malnutrition are current significant problems" for them "and especially for the children.

Human rights groups have linked the tensions with security forces to lingering anger among Communist authorities to the support given by Degar Montagnards to US forces during the Vietnam War and their Christian churches, growing outside the official denominations. (With reporting from Vietnam).

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