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Vietnam Police "Kill" Degar Christian Prisoner

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 | Tag Cloud

By BosNewsLife News Center

HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) -- Vietnamese security police tortured and killed a Degar Montagnard Christian who was jailed for allegedly preaching the Gospel in Vietnam's Central Highlands and participating in-democracy rallies in 2004, an advocacy group representing him said Monday, February 25.

The Montagnard Foundation Incorporated (MFI), which represents, predominantly Christian, Degar Montagnards living in the Central Highlands, told BosNewsLife that 41-year- old Kpa Kloh died February 10 "as a result of the severe and repeated torture by the Vietnamese security police" at the Phu Yen Province prison. He leaves behind his wife R’mah H’Ne and six children, MFI said.

The latest torture session happened February 9, but he had been mistreated before, including December 10, last year, MFI alleged. "They beat him on his head with their police batons until blood came out of his ears, nose and mouth and he fell completely unconscious."

Police were apparently angered that he did not die in previous torture sessions, which began soon after he was detained in October 2004 for "preaching the Good News about our Lord Jesus Christ and attending or being involved in the [pro democracy] Easter prayer vigil in April of 2004," MFI said.

THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE

The devoted Christian was among thousands of Degar Montagnards demonstrating and praying inside the Central Highlands in 2004 for "an end to years of religious persecution [and against] the confiscation of our ancestral lands" and for "political autonomy," MFI said.

Government forces reportedly broke up the prayer vigil and protests, killing as many as dozens of people Degar Montagnards and injuring many more, according to eyewitness testimony obtained by the Human Rights Watch group. Vietnamese authorities have denied the charges, with the Foreign Ministry saying that only two people died and "about a dozen were wounded on both sides".

Hundreds of Degar Montagnards, have since reportedly been detained. Kpa Kloh was among those being singled out for torture, MFI suggested. Since his arrest in 2004,"Vietnamese security police repeatedly tortured him. They beat him, punching him and kicking him with their military boots. They struck him repeatedly with their batons and constantly [gave him electrical' shocks all over his body." He survived severe torture in July 2007, after which security police allegedly "intensified the torture," leading to his eventual death this month.

INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION?

The US-based MFI urged the international community to intervene, saying that "in the United States of America, many people are upset when animals are abused....The indigenous Degar Montagnard people are treated far worse."

Vietnamese authorities have denied large scale religious rights abuses. The US State Department said in 2006 Vietnam no longer qualified for its list of "countries of particular concern" (CPC) for egregious religious freedom abuses, a decision criticized by MFI and other advocacy groups. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Vietnam).

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