Don’t Forsake Me

Scott Johnson, of the Montagnard Foundation, writes of the plight of Degar Montagnard Christians in Vietnam.

Jana Born was arrested and tortured on February 6, 2001 for participating in the peaceful demonstrations of February 2001 in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. On September 26, 2001 he was tried at a local court in Gialai province and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for trumped up charges of attempting to overthrow the Vietnamese government, when in fact all he did was participate in peaceful protests calling for religious freedom and indigenous land rights.

Jana is currently suffering badly in Vietnam’s notorious Trai Ba-Sao prison in Ha Nam. He has been tortured by Vietnamese authorities and endured numerous beatings. He has been hanged upside-down and flogged until he became unconscious. He can no longer feel or move one of his legs and is in a fragile mental and physical state. According to his relatives who have been allowed to visit him a few times, his body is like a skeleton due to lack of proper nutrition, medical care and torture. He suffers today like so many of his people who as a race have endured decades of persecution by the Vietnamese communist government.

Scott Johnson describes more. For example:

In North Carolina I interviewed some of the Degar Montagnards who had participated in the 2001 demonstration and also others who witnessed the second mass demonstration by Degar Montagnards that occurred on Easter 2004. The 2004 demonstration however, was planned as a week long prayer vigil but this too was brutally crushed by Vietnam’s security forces. The 2004 Easter prayer vigil actually never commenced as security forces ambushed the Degar Montagnards on the first day, using knives, machetes, clubs and other weapons. Human Rights Watch reported 10 killed including a 80 year old blind woman who was dragged off a tractor and beaten to death. The US State Department reported killings in at least “double digit figures” and I personally spoke to survivors who escaped to the United States who saw hundreds, I repeat hundreds of Degar Montagnards lying unconscious or dead, bleeding on the ground. One witness old me explicitly he saw 35 to 40 dead bodies on one street alone in Buonmathuot.

He pleads:

Sadly most of the public concerns about Vietnam’s lack of human rights are silent on these Degar Montagnard prisoners and the question remains will the international community, the US Government, the United Nations, the European Union and others, including the main stream media forsake these indigenous peoples? A call to Christians around the world is needed, to pressure Vietnam to spare the persecution of these indigenous people.

Lying in a prison cell a Degar Montagnard woman named H’Thiu Ya was chained to the floor, her legs locked between two logs. On 14 May 2007 the police allowed her 30 minutes to see her children before they were dragged away screaming in tears for their mother who was later sentenced to prison for over 3 years for participating in Christian house church activities. I felt sick when I heard this news, especially since I had interviewed other torture victims and knew what H’thui had to look forward to.

FOR MORE DETAILS ON MONTAGNARD DEGAR PRISONERS SEE:

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Vietnam: Montagnards Face Religious, Political Persecution http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/14/vietna13542.htm

YOUTUBE: Degar Montagnard Torture Victims Speak Out
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOSKDjYPyXU

MFI PRESS RELEASE: The Story of H’Thui Ya (above)
http://montagnard-foundation.org/Press/?p=23

Bruce Kesler

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