Torture and mass arrests of Christians in Vietnam

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Location map for the Vietnam

A 25-page briefing paper released by the Human Rights Watch reports torture, mass arrests and increasing persecution of Montagnard Christians in Vietnam's Central Highlands. According to Human Rights Watch there is more extensive use of torture against activists, individuals and religious leaders who have been expelled or returned from Cambodia.

The practice of self-criticism sessions, where Montagnard villagers are forced by officials to renounce Christianity and every political or religious activities in public is common. Human Rights Watch received complaints about these practices at provincies of Dak Lak, Kon Tum, Dak Nong and Gia Lai during 2004.

According to the report, in December, the month of Christmas, police force were engaged in rounding up and arresting dozens of Montagnard Christians and detaining them at district and provincial police stations and prisons throughout the region. The police arrested 129 people between December 12 and 24 in Gia Lai province, one of five provinces in the Central Highlands.

On April 10, 2004, a 25-year-old man was arrested by the police of Dak Nong province. During the interrogation the police officers extracted one of his toe nails, beat him with a rubber baton, broke his front teeth by beating him repeatedly and they intimidated him with a AK-47 rifle. The police officers threatened him by putting a pile of electrical wire in his front but they didn't shock him. Regularly they soak people in water and shock them until they get unconscious.

A man who described himself as a activist with the Dega church movement described his arrest and torture by police in Dark Doa district in March 2003:I was on my way to another village with my little boy to attend a wedding when they arrested me. They took me to the district police station, where they blindfolded me. They sat me in a chair and forced me to hold my hands up in the air for almost seven hours. Policemen on either side of me twisted pens between my fingers and beat my feet with a wooden stick. At the same time they jabbed me in the ribs with their hands. The worst part was that they forced my three-year-old son to sit on my lap the entire time, even though he was crying uncontrollably.

Dak Nong, a church elder from Cu Jut district said authorities have recorded members of his village church committee delivering bibles to officials. Nong said that the video was used later in television in a false report: when it was shown on television the announcer said we were voluntarily giving up the bibles. In fact, we were forced.