(Worthy News) - A group of 181 Christian refugees fleeing religious persecution in Vietnam has been detained in Thailand for the last two months.
The refugees, part of an ethnic minority group known as the Montagnards that has been the object of religious and ethnic persecution by the Vietnamese government over the last half-century, were arrested in Nonthaburi province by Thai authorities on August 28th and charged with violations under Thailand's Immigration Act.
The adults are now being detained in Thailand's Immigration Detention Center in Bangkok, while the group's 47 children have been distributed to youth shelters throughout the surrounding area.
“At this point, we cannot confirm that even basic needs such as food, shelter, and sanitation are being provided for these Christian children,” said Jubilee campaign, an advocacy group for global Christians.
Barring the poor living conditions of Thailand's detention centers, the refugees face possible deportation back to Vietnam where they risk falling into the hands of the communist Vietnamese government, which sees the largely Christian ethnic minority as a threat to national unity and ideological cohesion.
Because of the influx of Montagnards and other refugees into their countries, a June 2015 Human Rights Watch report called on the governments of Thailand and Cambodia to "abide by the international legal prohibition on returning refugees and asylum seekers to a place where their lives or freedom would be threatened."
The Montagnards in Vietnam have faced the seizure of their ancestral lands as well as detention in labor camps in which they undergo torture and communist re-education as a reward for supporting America's anti-communist efforts against the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam war.