Vietnam's Relentless Repression of Montagnard Christians
Montagnards March for Human Rights in Washington, D.C.
On Monday, July 10, the Montagnard Dega community from North Carolina held a peaceful demonstration and march in Washington, D.C. to protest Vietnam’s stepped-up repression of Montagnards in the Central Highlands.
More than 400 Montagnards – many in traditional dress – gathered at the US Capitol for prayer, the Dega Anthem, and speeches by Montagnards and their supporters. They then marched to the White House and the Vietnamese Embassy, before disbanding and returning to North Carolina. For press release, please click here.
Vietnam Ramps Up Montagnard Persecution After Dak Lak Attacks (VOA, July 17, 2023).
Overview Report: Rights Abuses of Montagnards in VN
A. Religious Persecution
Vietnamese authorities continue to target indigenous minority Christians known as Montagnards for harsh persecution. Singled out are Montagnard Christians who worship in independent house churches, rather than affiliating with state-authorized religious organizations.
Government officials routinely force Montagnard Christians to publicly recant their religion; those who continue to worship in independent house churches face beatings, arrest, and imprisonment.
B. Land Rights
Montagnards who resist confiscation of their land are subjected to beatings, arrest, and excessive use of force by police.
C. Freedom of Expression
Internet use is closely monitored by the Ministry of Public Security, which launched an operation in 2014 to prevent Montagnards from accessing or sharing “anti-government” material on the internet..
Montagnards have been sentenced to prison for using the internet for online human rights training or to communicate with UN bodies and Montagnard activists abroad.
Others have been forced to confess their "wrongful" internet use in public meetings broadcast on state television.
D. Arbitrary Arrest, Unfair Trials, Torture, and Imprisonment
Since 2001, more than 400 Montagnards have been sentenced to prison for exercising their rights to peaceful dissent and independent worship. Others have been sent without trial to compulsory re-education and forced labor centers.
Those who are tried are charged with vaguely-worded national security crimes that carry heavy penalties, such as "undermining the policy of national unity" (Penal Code Article 88).
The vast majority have no legal representation during detention and trial, which rely on confessions elicited by torture.
Montagnards make up less than 2 percent of Vietnam's population, but comprise a disproportionate number of all prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.
Close to 90 Montagnards are currently imprisoned or remain under post-release probationary restrictions that severely restrict their civil rights.
For a listing of Montagnard prisoners of conscience, please click here.
F. Forced to Flee their Homeland as Refugees
The result of Vietnam’s harsh persecution of Montagnard Christians has been a flow of refugees to Cambodia and Thailand over the last 20years. Montagnard asylum seekers forced back to Vietnam are subject to punitive treatment, including:
► Detention, interrogation and physical abuse by police;
► Intrusive surveillance and restrictions on freedom of movement;
► Being forced to publicly confess alleged wrongdoings on state television.
Join the Global Campaign to Free Y Pum Bya
CAT-VN calls on Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release all persons arbitrarily detained, imprisoned or placed under house arrest for peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and religion and belief.
We also urge the United States to designate Vietnam as a country of particular concern (CPC) for its systematic, egregious and ongoing violations of religious freedom.
We recommend that the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom apply sanctions against individual perpetrators of human rights violations in Vietnam under the Magnitsky laws of those countries.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Urge your elected representatives and the U.S. State Department to:
Send a letter or postcard calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all Montagnard Prisoners of Conscience to:
► Mr. To Lam, Minister of Public Security, 44 Yet Kieu St., Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
► Prime Minister Nguyen Minh Chinh, 2 Hung Vuong St., Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
► Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary, Communist Party of Vietnam, 1A Hung Vuong St., Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
“We Montagnards are treated like enemies in our homeland. If we try to practice our religion independently or resist confiscation of our land, we are accused of being ‘spies’ or wanting to overthrow the government.”