JUBILEE CAMPAIGN CALLS FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST VIETNAM


Jubilee Campaign

The Christian human rights organisation, the Jubilee Campaign, is campaigning for the British government to impose sanctions against Vietnam and to urge its European Union partners to do likewise because of the brutal and relentless persecution of the Degar people of the Central Highlands by the Vietnamese government. Persecution has included the recent crackdown on April 10 by Vietnamese security forces against thousands of Degars peacefully demonstrating for their rights including their religious liberty and rights to land. The security forces also enlisted the help of many Vietnamese settlers in attacking the Degar. Demonstrators were shot, stabbed and beaten and about 400 of them, many of whom were Christians, were killed in Banmathout city.

The Degar are the indigenous people of Vietnam's Central Highlands and the majority of them are Christians. Persecution against the Degar by the Vietnamese authorities has included religious persecution, such as the systematic forced closure of their churches and the giving of Degar land to settlers from the ethnic Vietnamese majority.

Jubilee Campaign has been campaigning for the rights of the Degar people since 2001 and Jubilee is now lobbying British Parliamentarians to urge the British government to impose sanctions on Vietnam.The British government has already given millions of pounds in aid to Vietnam, including financial assistance to fight rural poverty. Jubilee Campaign's Researcher and Parliamentary Officer, Wilfred Wong, says, " It is deeply ironic that so much British government aid has been given to Vietnam to combat rural poverty since the Vietnamese government is deliberately intensifying rural poverty by its brutal and systematic atrocities against the Degar. Many of the Degar are unable to work their fields or buy food or collect water because of this persecution. Government officials and many ethnic Vietnamese civilians have refused to sell or give food to the Degar people, worsening the food shortages for thousands of Degars.

So far the Vietnamese government has generally ignored international concern about the persecution against the Degar so tougher action like sanctions is needed to try and force them to change their policies. There are clearly both racist and anti-Christian motives involved in this persecution. Now, more than ever, we ought to pray and speak out for the Degar people. "

At the moment the region remains sealed off by the Vietnamese authorities but information regarding the atrocities continues to come out of the Central Highlands. The human rights group, the Montagnard Foundation, has reported on a wide range of recent abuses against the Degars. For example, they describe how Tol, a Degar, was grabbed and killed by ethnic Vietnamese settlers on April 10. An eyewitness said that the Vietnamese civilians held him, poked both of his eyes and then beat him until he died.

Hnun, another Degar, was killed when the Vietnamese police shot him in the head. Siu Plen, 33, was participating in the peaceful demonstrations when the police arrested and handcuffed him, then gave him over to Vietnamese civilians and students who beat him up until his skull fractured and he died.

Hkroih, from the village of Plei Djrong, was shot by the police in both of her legs which are now broken and the hospital has refused to treat her. Ngun, from the village of Plei Piong, was shot by police in the left leg and the hospital also refused him medical treatment. The hospitals are dominated by ethnic Vietnamese who are antagonistic towards the Degar.

Many of the Degar demonstrators have also disappeared and may have been killed. For example, Pin, Djum, Kuk and Ayui (many Degars have only one name) were all seriously injured after the attack on the demonstrators but now they have disappeared. Wung, Bing, Biung, Som, Dum, Dat , Hun, Ron, Jop and Wun, were among numerous Degars taken away from their villages by Vietnamese police at night and their whereabouts are unknown.

Over a thousand of the Degar have hidden from the Vietnamese security forces and have little or no food in their hiding places. They could starve to death if the anti-Degar crackdown is not ended soon.

HHlon, a 20 year old Degar girl, was gang raped by 20 Vietnamese soldiers at gun point and then taken away to an unknown location. She has still not returned to her village.

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For further information you can contact Wilfred Wong on 020 7219 5129.

Jubilee Campaign is an interdenominational Christian human rights organisation which has worked with over 150 British Parliamentarians on human rights issues worldwide.