Degar Foundation President replies to the Vietnamese Government

Vietnam states: “The Montagnard Foundation is the latest incarnation of the Fulro Separatist Insurgency.”

Kok Ksor responds:

A) This is incorrect. MFI is recognized by the Federal Government of the United States of America under section 501 (a) of the Internal Revenue Code as an organization described in the section 501 (c) (3) with the purpose to function as a private foundation pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code and to engage in education activities to bring to the attention of the American people and the world the plight of the Montagnard people of Vietnam; to improve the living condition and welfare of the Montagnard people; and to engage in other charitable and educational activities which will call attention to the plight of the Montagnard people and/or which will result in bringing about improvement of the welfare and living conditions of the Montagnard people in general. MFI thus is not a terrorist or militant organization or the latest incarnation of the Fulro separatist insurgency and the US government would have never accepted MFI as a non-profit organization if such allegations were true.

B) The United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations recognized MFI as an indigenous organization representing the Indigenous Montagnard in the Central Highlands since 1993. The UN and UNWGIP would never have permitted MFI delegations to attend UN conferences if MFI was in fact a terrorist or militant organization.

C) In 2002, Mr. Ksor joined the Transnational Radical Party (TRP), an NGO in General Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the United Nations. The TRP believes in non-violence and dialogue as means to address disputes in an open and democratic way. In 2002, Mr. Ksor was elected to the General Council of the TRP in an open and transparent way in Tirana, Albania, during the second phase of the 38th congress of the organization Last Summer, another International Organization called Hands Off Cain, which is active worldwide in pursuing the adoption of a resolution at the UN General Assembly calling for a moratorium of capital executions asked Mr. Ksor to join its board of advisors. In 2002 and 2003, Mr. Ksor was received by representatives of the European and Italian Parliament. All meetings are publicly acknowledged and documented.

D) If MFI is a terrorist or militant organization or the latest incarnation of the Fulro separatist insurgency then there should be an army hidden somewhere ready to obey the order and carry out violent attacks within Vietnam. None of the tragic events that we are witnessing all over the world today ever took place in Vietnam. MFI states that to the contrary, the government of Vietnam is and has committed brutal acts of terrorism against our people, they have confiscated our ancestral lands, killing thousands of our people when they invaded our homeland in 1975, they have imprisoned, tortured and sent thousands of our people to re-education camps where they were used for forced labor. In 2003 – 2004 the Vietnamese government continues to impose martial law in our villages brutally suppressing our people. The Vietnamese government has executed our people and tortured hundreds of our Christian brothers and sisters over the last few months. See our website for detailed reports of brutality.

E) As an indigenous people, our people only ask the government of Vietnam to respect our rights to our ancestral lands, according to our customs, tradition and culture and as human beings we ask the Vietnamese government to respect to respect our human, civil and political rights and to stop sterilizing our women. Vietnam responds to this by claiming we are a separatist group seeking independence. When we stood up and peacefully asked them to stop treating our people inhumanly the communist government sent thousands of troops, tanks and helicopter gunships to suppress our people and place the region under martial law which caused thousands of our people to flee as refugees to Cambodia. At least during the Vietnam war when the South Vietnamese controlled our homeland we had our congressmen and senators to represent us at the government level and our ethnic minority ministry to serve our people. We also had the right to our farmlands. At the present time however, our people have no one to represent us at the government level accept those communist party appointees who do not serve our people. With great confidence I can say the allegations of the Vietnamese government about MFI are nothing but a pretext to justify its action of genocide towards our people – the Indigenous Montagnards.

Vietnam states: “Ksor Kok was born in 1945” and “Ksor Kok joined the Fulro separatist group led by Kpa Koi in 1969” and “By late 1999, Ksor Kok officially proclaimed the establishment of the ‘independent Dega state”.

Kok Ksor responds:
These statements are all incorrect. I was actually born in 1944 and I never joined FULRO in 1969 but instead I joined FULRO in 1964. I also never proclaimed the establishment of independent Degar state in 1999. While I was once in FULRO – such history of the Vietnam War cannot be said to be proof that I or anyone else is FULRO today in the year 2004.

Vietnam States: “MFI and Ksor Kok also promote a new religious denomination, so called Dega Protestantism”

Kok Ksor responds: The existence or promotion of a new denomination falls under the right to worship freely, which is guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Vietnam has ratified. I believe this is what is called “the freedom of religion” and we do not want to be part of a “government controlled religion” with “government appointed religious leaders”. I cannot see anything wrong with wanting to be free of “government controlled religions” and we note there are many different denominations of religions such as Baptist, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Presbyterian, Methodist, Pentacostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Church of God, Church of Christ and so on. The Communist government of Vietnam does not want us to freely believe that Jesus Christ as our savior and they actually try to force us to believe that Ho Chi Minh is our God. Ho Chi Minh is however, not a god and we cannot worship him because over the years Ho Chi Minh has represented only poverty, suffering and death for our people.

Vietnam States: “Dega Protestantism being reserved only for Central Highlands ethnic minority followers i.e. a policy which amounts to ethnic discrimination and division and exploitation of religion for political purposes”

Kok Ksor responds:
Our religion is not restricted to ethnic minority people and we state any decent human being may visit and worship with us in the spirit of Christianity. We will not discriminate on the basis of race and we state that we only refuse to worship Ho Chi Minh as a god. Our people remember that during the French colonization of our homelands and during the South Vietnam control of our homelands our religion was free from government interference. MFI is only trying to educate its people to become better people to love and care for others so that they can serve and respect their government. The teachings of Christ does not say we are to be vengeful or violent. MFI does not want to exploit religion for political purposes but the world must realize that religious persecution is an official policy of the Vietnamese government. The Vietnamese government does not want our people to love and care for each other but they want to divide us so they can control and persecute us.

During the second Indochina War some Montagnard leaders such as Nai Der, Nai Phin, R’com Briu, Y-Bih Aleo, Y-Ngong Nie Kdam and others aligned them selves with Ho Chi Minh because he promised them that our people could get their autonomous state back that France granted them in May 27, 1946. During the war the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese created two fronts – one for Viet Cong – called the Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (Mat Tran Giai Phong Mien Nam Vietnam) and another for the Montagnard people called – the Front for the Liberation of the Highlands (Mat Tran Giai Phong Tay Nguyen). After the war the communists reneged on this promise to give us autonomy and have since brutally repressed and persecuted our people enacting official policies that confiscate our ancestral lands and condemn us to poverty.

In Conclusion – Kok Ksor responds:

MFI notes that the Vietnamese government website relies on Human Rights Watch quotes, but they selectively choose only a few. If one reads this report and other reports by Human Right Watch in their entirety one quickly sees how Vietnam has committed gross human rights violations against our people. I take special note of the April 2002, Human Rights Watch 194 page report about our people tilted “Repression of Montagnards” where the opening press release states:

The Montagnards have been repressed by Vietnam for decades. This has got to stop.”

I note also that on 18 December 2003 US State Department International Religious Freedom Report stated “the situation remained poor or worsened for many ethnic minority Protestants in the Central Highlands and Northwest Highlands”.

In conclusion I state that the Vietnamese government’s allegations are nothing less that a pretext to cover its sophisticated scheme of genocide toward us – the Montagnard indigenous people in order to take full possession of our ancestral homelands while destroying a millennial culture.

MFI does not feel intimidated by the Vietnamese campaign that is trying to discredit it before national and international organizations and over the next days, in view of the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, MFI will release a report with detailed information concerning the latest human rights violations occurred in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

We further demand that Vietnam remove this slanderous propaganda from their website immediately.

 

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