The Vietnamese government continues to threaten the Montagnard population in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. The government routinely isolates religious and political prisoners and prevents them from having contact with their families. Vietnamese security forces interrogate, intimidate, and torture Montagnards who are held in custody. However, when communication is allowed, it is only in an effort to obtain information that will allow security forces to target family members. The government monitors communications of prisoners, which allows them to identify prisoner contacts and family members who then become targets of the Vietnamese government. The two stories below describe the attacks upon the wife and relatives of a prisoner named Siu Thoan, who has been imprisoned since 2007 for committing alleged illegal Christian activities.
PRISONER’S WIFE NAY H’MOANH ARRESTED, BEATEN AND THREATENED BY A VIETNAMESE OFFICER NAMED “PHAM ANH TUAN”
On September 18, 2011, at approximately 8:00am, security forces arrested Nay H’Moanh (born 1981) who is the wife of prisoner Siu Thoan at her home in Ploi Rbay village, commune Ia Piar, Phu Thien district in Gia Lai province, Vietnam. The names of the four arresting security forces are:
Ma Ngoc Lam
Pham Anh Tuan
Tran Minh Hai
The security forces forcibly took her to the commune office where she endured interrogation, beatings, threats, and was forced to sign a pledge. The events of her interrogation are as follows:
Security forces asked her: Do you know why we brought you here? We know that you have been calling your husband Siu Thoan in prison. Why have you contacted him? Who told you to contact him?
Nay H’Moanh replied: He is my husband and he is very ill. He has called me to ask for medicines to help him with his pain. No one told us to call him. What have we done wrong?
During the interrogation the security officer named Pham Anh Tuan slapped Nay H’Moanh on her face multiple times. As she tried covering her face, Pham Anh Tuan started beating on her head. Pham Anh Tuan then threatened her with the following words:
“If we find out that you talk on the phone with your husband again, we will come for you and put you in prison for three years. In addition, if you do not do what we tell you, your husband will serve another 15 years in prison.”
Security force confiscated her hand-held phone but would not release her until she signed a pledge agreeing to the following conditions.
– not call her husband again
– not travel to other places beyond her own village
– not convene with large groups of people for activities not sanctioned by the authorities
Nay H’Moanh was released at 11:00am only after signing the pledge (which she did out of fear) and walked home to her village.
MORE RELATIVES OF SIU THOAN ARRESTED: NAY THAP AND NAY THEM BEATEN AND THREATENED BY PHAM ANH TUAN
The following month, on 18 October 2011 at approximately 8:30 am, five security forces from Phu Thien commune arrested two other relatives of Siu Thoan, who are named Nay Thap and Nay Them and forcibly brought them to the commune office. The arresting security officers are named:
Pham Anh Tuan.
Nguyen Van Hloi
Ma Ngoc Lam
Tram Minh Hai
Nay Thap and Nay Them told the security police they had done nothing wrong. The security officers, however, confiscated Nay Thap’s hand-held phone, interrogated and then beat him. The account of Nay Thap’s interrogation is as follows:
Security force Ma Ngoc Lam (to Nay Thap): Who allowed you to talk to Siu Thoan in prison? Do you know that Siu Thoan is imprisoned because he used religion as a cover-up for political opposition against the Government of Hanoi? Tell us the truth that you spoke to him. Tell us who told you to speak with him?
Nay Thap: Siu Thoan is a relative of mine and, yes I have communicated with him. He has been in prison for his beliefs and is very sick. He spoke with me and has asked that I would help buy medicines to help with his pain and the injuries and for food to eat.
Security force Ma Ngoc Lam: You cannot speak with Siu Thoan from now on.
BEATED BY PHAM ANH TUAN
The security officer named Pham Anh Tuan began beating him. Using his hands in a karate-chop form, Pham Anh Tuan struck Nay Thap on his shoulder, chin, ribs, chest, head, and struck his left ear with such force as to injure his ear drum. Pham Anh Tuan also punched Nay Thap in his eyes with a closed fist multiple times.
Similarly, security forces then interrogated Nay Them for also contacting the prisoner Siu Thoan and threatened him with prison if he continued to communicate with him again, stating:
“From today forward you cannot communicate with prisoners, such as Siu Thoan. You cannot worship with many people or without a sanctioned church organization. You cannot go to other villages. If we see that you gather with large groups of people for worship, we will put you in prison for 5 years.
Then they forced them to sign a pledge agreeing to the demands or otherwise they would not be released. Nay Thap was released at 11:30am and they had to walk home to their village with injuries and bruises.
Nay Thap, (born 1978) and Nay Them (born 1978) are from the same village named Ploi Rbay, commune Ia Piar, Phu Thien district in Gia Lai province,Vietnam.
THE MONTAGNARD FOUNDATION URGENTLY CALLS ON:
- Concerned Embassies, US State Department, European Commission, United Nations, Red Cross and other international humanitarian agencies to investigate these attacks on Montagnards and do everything in their power to prevent further revenge attacks on Siu Thoan’s relatives.
- Concerned Embassies, US State Department, European Commission, United Nations, Red Cross and other international humanitarian agencies demand Vietnam release and account for Siu Thoan and all the hundreds of other Degar Montagnard prisoners imprisoned in Vietnam as documented by Human Rights Watch and the US Commission of International Religious Freedom.
- The US State Department seriously review the cases of hundreds of Degar Montagnards imprisoned in Vietnam and place Vietnam back on the ‘Country of Particular Concern’ watch list as recommended by the US International Commission of Religious Freedom.