Montagnard Group Pushes Poisoning Story

The controversial US-based leader of a Montagnard support group challenged the Vietnamese government on Friday to disprove his recent allegations that three Montagnard prisoners were administered lethal injections in a Central Highlands prison late last month.

Kok Ksor, president of the Montagnard Foundation Inc, made the challenge in reaction to a Vietnamese Foreign Ministry statement that recently branded as “shameless slander” his claims that three Montagnard prisoners were killed in detention.

“I have been accused to lie by stating how the government murdered three of our Christians in their prison cells by injecting them with poison,” Kok Ksor said in an e-mail copy of a letter addressed to Vietnam’s Prime Minister Phan Van Khai.

“I challenge you now to prove that I am lying about such brutality…. Provide evidence that Y-Soun Mlo, Y Het Nie Kdam and Y Wan Ayun have not been killed on October 29, 2002,” he said.

Kok Ksor said Hanoi should allow journalists and international monitors to enter the Central Highlands to prove or disprove his allegations.

Vietnam’s Ambassador Nguy­en Duy Hung blasted Kok Ksor’s challenge on Friday, saying his government would not respond to his claims.

“Our Foreign Ministry already refuted this as slander; there is nothing more to say,” he said.

More than 1,000 Montagnard asylum seekers fled from Viet­nam to Cambodia last year after Hanoi crushed ethnic minority demonstrations for land rights and religious freedoms.

Phnom Penh allowed Wash­ing­ton to resettle 906 Montag­nards in the US, but then closed its borders. Cambo­dia’s stance has drawn criticism from rights groups who said it violates international refugee law.

Some 126 Montagnards are still in Phnom Penh awaiting clearance from US officials. Their resettlement stalled over criminal allegations made against them by feuding Montagnard support groups in the US.

Mohammad Alnassery, officer in charge at the International Organization of Migration, said on Friday that he does not know when the final refugees will be resettled.

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