A violent attack against
indigenous minority Christians in the central highlands of Vietnam has left 16 men and women severely injured and
one man still under arrest; his welfare remains unknown to date, according to a report from International Christian Concern.
To be sure, the
systematic persecution of Degar Montagnard Christians continues, with
this brutal attack as proof of the regime’s purposeful policing,
harassment, and aggressive oppression of this indigenous people and
minority religious group.
On July 7, at approximately 8 p.m., Vietnamese security forces and police descended
upon a worship service in the village of Buon Kret Krot (H’Ra commune,
Mang Yang district, Plei Ku city, in Gai Lai province), and began
kicking and beating the attendees. Security forces threatened the
villagers, stating: “If anyone worships like this way, we will return to arrest you all and put you in prison for five years.”
Twelve men and four women were beaten, and of these, 10 men and two
women were violently beaten to unconsciousness. Police beat A Jung, a
29-year old male, repeatedly with a baton until he collapsed to the
ground where they continued to kick and stomp on his stomach and back
until he lost consciousness. Jung was taken away by police and remains
in custody; he has likely experienced torture while imprisoned.
villagers were beaten with batons, firearms and tree branches, and
kicked and stomped upon by the Vietnamese security forces. The youngest
victim was Y Kang, a 13-year old girl.
Vietnam has a
long-standing practice of policing, harassing and arresting Christians
who are unaffiliated with the government-sanctioned and only
legally-recognized religious bodies in the nation.
Johnson, with the Montagnard Foundation, says: “The Vietnamese government
has targeted indigenous Degar Montagnards for simply being members of
Christian house churches, in a long-running policy designed to eliminate
independent Christian house churches. Hundreds of Degar Montagnards
remain in prison today and in custody many prisoners are brutally
tortured and even killed.
“There is a shameful silence from the
international community, including the United Nations and State
Department, as to the plight of these forgotten prisoners even while the
evidence of systematic religious persecution is overwhelming.”
to Human Rights Watch, since 2001 more than 350 Degar Montagnards have
been arrested and sentenced to long prison sentences on vaguely-defined
charges that are considered to be subversive to the Vietnamese regime.
ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeastern Asia, Kris Elliott, said: “We
call upon the Vietnamese government to cease this systematic practice
of violence and persecution against Christians, especially Degar
“We also urge the U.S. Department of State to once again
designate Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern, as conditions for
religious minorities have vastly deteriorated since the designation was
lifted in 2006. A CPC designation backed by strong U.S. policies has the
potential to pave a path towards significant improvements for Christians
and other religious minorities in Vietnam.”