VN and Cambodia Under Fire for Abuse of Montagnards

Human Rights Watch urged international donors to pressure Vietnam to end its persecution of Montagnards, and accused Cam­bodia of denying asylum to fleeing Montagnards in a statement Tuesday.

Donors should pressure Viet­nam to stop “the unlawful arrest, [and] torture” of Montag­nards who have returned to Vietnam from Cambodia, voluntarily or forcibly, the statement said.

Most Montagnards hoping to flee the Vietnamese authorities are unable to seek asylum in Cam­bodia, “which has sealed its border and enforces a policy of forced repatriation of Montagnard asylum seekers,” Human Rights Watch said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak declined to an­swer questions on the report Tues­day. CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said he was not in a position to comment on whether the government has forced Mon­tag­nards to return to Vietnam.

There are currently 124 Mon­tag­nards serving prison sentences in Vietnam of up to 13 years for attempting to seek asylum in Cambodia, taking part in nonviolent political activism, or organizing Christian gatherings, Human Rights Watch said.

Asylum seekers who have been forcibly repatriated from Cambo­dia “are placed under strict surveillance and sometimes house ar­rest,” Human Rights Watch said. “Vietnam’s already dismal hu­man rights has sunk to new depths this year,” Brad Adams, Hu­­man Rights Watch Asia Di­­vision director, said in the statement.

Nguyen Thanh Duc, press attache at the Vietnamese Embas­sy, said Tuesday that he had not received the report and was not in a position to comment on it. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will respond [today],” he said.

Repression of Montagnards in Vietnam’s Central Highlands is likely to escalate over the Christ­­mas holiday this month, Human Rights Watch added.

In Decem­ber, Vietnamese officials “invariably detain evangelical Christian lead­ers and shut down Christmas worship services, which are perceived as linked to the Mon­tag­nards’ political organizing,” the statement said.


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