The UN must take immediate action to ensure the welfare and cultural rights of the indigenous Montagnards in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, who remain victims of brutal military repression, the UN’s Human Rights Commission was told on Thursday.
Listing alleged abuses perpetrated against Montagnards in the Central Highlands, Kok Ksor of the US-based Montagnard Foundation Inc, claimed that Vietnamese troops were guilty of executing indigenous prisoners, shooting civilians and torturing prisoners.
Kok Ksor, who addressed the 59th Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the Transnational Radical Party, also blasted Cambodia for forcibly deporting hundreds of Montagnard asylum seekers back to Vietnam and claimed officials were paid bounties for the people they returned.
“Not only have we been denied access, ownership and use of our ancestral lands, and have been stripped of our culture and life habits, but over the last couple of years, we have been the target of a violent campaign based on racial discrimination,” Kok Ksor told the UN.
The Vietnamese government have “tried to strip the Montagnards also of their fundamental civil and political rights,” he said.
Kok Ksor called on the UN to “take immediate measures to ensure that the rights of members of indigenous communities are respected.”
“The life, welfare and ancestral culture of hundreds of thousands of individuals is at stake, the international community cannot let them down,” he added.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Phan Thuy Thanh, has repeatedly denied claims of repression in the Central Highlands and has said Kok Ksor and his organization have no credibility.
Last week, the Foreign Ministry claimed that a village, named by Kok Ksor’s group as having been the site of alleged military abuse, did not exist.
Outspoken Kok Ksor also told the UN rights committee that information seeping out of the Central Highlands, could not be verified by international observers, but he believed what was getting out was the “tip of the iceberg.”
He called on the UN to press Vietnam to allow human rights monitors access to the region.