Human Rights Watch Reports Christian Persecution in Vietnam

Vietnam continues to violate human rights as crackdown on Vietnamese continues, says Human Rights Watch. Meanwhile, Hanoi pressures Cambodia to deport asylum-seekers back to Vietnam.
( [email protected] ) Jan 12, 2005 11:17 PM EST

Monday, Montagnard protestor flocked to the White House to protest, what they say, is a wave of unabated rise in gross human-rights violation in Vietnam. The Montagnards gathered at the site are predominantly Christian. According to a recent report release by the Human Rights Watch, the Vietnamese government allegedly maintained a systematic campaign of persecuting, torturing, and imprisoning ethnic minority Christians in the central highlands of Vietnam.

The report also criticized a recent decision made by Cambodian authorities to reinforce it’s northeastern border in order to stem the number of refugees fleeing persecution. According to the Netherlands-based Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organization (UNPO), Cambodian officials are deciding whether or not to start deporting asylum seekers back to Vietnam.

Earlier, High-ranking Vietnamese officials made a widely reported visit to the Vietnamese highlands. The high-ranking officials visiting the highlands had pledged to respect religious freedom and asked local officers to promote a Christmas filled with peace and happiness.

According to Human Rights Watch, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, security personnel rounded up dozens of Montagnard Christians apparently in an effort to stop an alleged protest from taking place. In reference to facts released by Human Rights Watch, police arrested 129 people from December 12 to 24. Those who were arrested had been organizing peaceful Christmas gatherings, says the group.

The group also reported that Vietnamese security forces were rounding up young children and wives of men seeking religious-asylum in Cambodia. The families of those suspected of organizing protests or making contact with exile groups such as the Montagnard foundation have also been targeted.

The report released by the Watch also accused the Phnom Penh for not fulfilling its obligations to the United Nations. “Instead of closing its borders to asylum seekers, the Cambodian government should be working with the United Nations refugee agency to provide sanctuary to people escaping torture and arbitrary arrest.”

As of now, various human rights groups have reported that untold scores of asylum-seekers continue to make their escape to an uncertain future in Cambodia. So far, state-run newspapers have accused the Montagnards as being troublemakers and disturbers of public peace and security.