Hundreds of Vietnamese Christians killed at Easter
An estimated 400 Christians have been killed during peaceful and prayerful demonstrations by Christians in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
On Saturday 10 April up to 400,000 Vietnamese Christians, from the Degar people, gathered in several Vietnamese cities to demonstrate against the governmentís refusal to allow them to follow the Christian faith freely.
The demonstrators in the cities, which included the Central Highland city of Buonmathuot, were attacked by soldiers, police and other Vietnamese civilians. The Christians were shot at, beaten with electric batons and bombarded with rocks and stones. Hundreds were killed (400 according to one report) and many others have suffered broken bones reports the Barnabas Fund which works to support Christian communities in the Islamic world.
In a press release on 9 April an organisation representing the largely Christian Degar people, known as the Montagnard Foundation, drew attention to the planned demonstrations, which were to include a specific call for the Vietnamese government to lift the embargo on international human rights monitoring in the Central Highlands area. In a word of warning concerning the demonstrations the Foundation cautioned that ìWithout the direct intervention of law abiding states, the UN and the European Commission, the repression against the Montagnards will be bloody.î
It is also feared that this incident may spark a refugee crisis, with thousands heading for the Cambodian border. The Cambodians have however closed the border to refugees.
In a statement issued after the demonstrations had begun, the President of the Montagnard Foundation said that no attempt was made by the Christians to use violence. He also stated that the Christians are not seeking independence, merely the right to worship freely.
The Foundation has stated that ìOur people cannot continue suffering this way as the Vietnamese government continues to arrest, electric shock torture, and kill our peaceful hill tribe people for being Christian or for trying to save our
ancestral land from being confiscated.î