US officials condemn Vietnamese raid on Christian churches
nternational human rights activists and government officials in the U.S. have condemned a coordinated raid conducted by Vietnamese officials on two Vietnamese churches in the Dal Lak Province of Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Nearly two dozen ethnic minority Christians were detained in the raids, most or all belonging to the persecuted Montagnard ethnic group.
The Montagnards are indigenous groups native to a mountainous region near the border with Cambodia. About seventy percent of Montagnards are Christian, ten times the national average. The government treats them badly, often repressing their ability to practice their religion freely as in this case.
At least one woman fell ill after being held at a police station and cannot work. At least three members of her family were detained at the same time. Vietnamese police and prison authorities have long been accused of brutal violence towards detainees, including torture.
Human rights groups were swift to condemn the attack, which US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chairwoman Nadine Maenza called an “egregious abuse.” Fellow USCIRF commissioner James Carr also weighed in, calling on the central government and local authorities to cease their abuse of Montagnard Christians.