Eighteen More Montagnards Cross Into Ratanakkiri

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By | January 29, 2015

Eighteen Montagnard asylum seekers crossed into Ratanakkiri province from Vietnam on Wednesday morning, according to a rights group and a local villager, the fourth such group to arrive in the country this month.

Chhay Thy, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the 18 were sheltering in a forested area in the province’s O’Yadaw district.

“Those people arrived at about 10 a.m. [Wednesday], but we just received the information at about 8:20 p.m.,” Mr. Thy said. “They are now staying in a safe area in the forest.”

An ethnic Jarai villager, who has aided 27 other Montagnard asylum seekers who have entered Cambodia over the past three months, also said the group arrived Wednesday.

“One of them came to Ratanakkiri before and he led these people here,” said the villager, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals from authorities.

“The Vietnamese authorities treated him badly after he was recently sent back home by Cambodian authorities.”

On Saturday, police in Ratanakkiri deported seven Montagnards back to Vietnam after they were arrested while crossing the border. Two other Montagnards were deported earlier this month after accidentally wandering into Cambodian territory, police said.

The 18 Montagnards are the fourth group to enter Cambodia this month, following a group of three who arrived in Phnom Penh on January 21 and are currently being processed by the Interior Ministry’s refugee department.

Two other groups who crossed into Ratanakkiri earlier this month, totaling 14 people including two children and an infant, also hope to reach the capital but remain hidden in the forest.

Both groups—who are also staying in O’Yadaw district and being aided by members of a local Jarai community—say they hope the U.N. will help them reach Phnom Penh to apply for asylum.

Neither the U.N’s High Commissioner for Refugees nor Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights could immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

The Montagnards, an indigenous minority concentrated in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, have long been at odds with Hanoi over religious and land rights.

Read full article: https://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/eighteen-more-montagnards-cross-into-ratanakkiri-76895/

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Police Deport 7 Montagnards From Ratanakkiri to Vietnam

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By | January 26, 2015

As 14 Montagnard asylum seekers continue to evade authorities in the forests of Ratanakkiri province, an official said Sunday that police deported seven “Vietnamese Jarai” from the northeastern province on Saturday.

Ratanakkiri provincial police chief Nguon Koeun said border police arrested the seven on Saturday in O’Yadaw district’s Paknhai commune and handed them over to Vietnamese authorities near the border later that day.

“We arrested those people because they crossed the border illegally and farmed in our Khmer land,” he said.

“They are not Montagnards, they are Vietnamese Jarai people,” he added.

The Montagnards are an indigenous group concentrated in Vietnam’s Central Highlands made up of about 30 hill tribes, including the Jarai. Although a population of Jarai lives in Ratanakkiri, most members of the ethnic group live in Vietnam’s Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces. All Vietnamese Jarai are considered Montagnards.

On January 3, a group of five Montagnard asylum seekers crossed into Ratanakkiri and have since been aided by a group of Cambodian Jarai in O’Yadaw district.

A separate group of nine Montagnards, including two children and an infant, arrived in the province on January 17 and has since joined the group of five. Both groups claim to be fleeing religious and political persecution in Vietnam.

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Vietnam: Plainclothes Agents Target Rights Campaigners

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Bloggers Assaulted for Visiting Fellow Activist
January 25, 2015
“The Vietnamese government has some serious questions to answer. Is it now government policy to have police travel with thugs to punish people who don’t immediately follow their orders?”
Brad Adams, Asia director

(New York) – The Vietnamese authorities should immediately stop using violence against human rights campaigners, Human Rights Watch said today. In January 2015, leading bloggers were targeted by plainclothes agents and beaten. The attacks violated basic rights and that all involved in the assaults against bloggers and rights activists should be held accountable for their acts of violence, intimidation, and harassment.

“The Vietnamese government has some serious questions to answer,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Is it now government policy to have police travel with thugs to punish people who don’t immediately follow their orders?”

On January 21, a group of 12 bloggers and rights activists went from Hanoi to Thai Binh province to visit Tran Anh Kim, a political prisoner who was released on January 7 after completing five years and six months in prison for alleged affiliation with a political party banned by the authorities. The visitors included geophysicist Nguyen Thanh Giang; film artist Nguyen Thi Kim Chi; former editor Nguyen Le Hung; former political prisoner Nguyen Vu Binh; bloggers Nguyen Tuong Thuy and JB Nguyen Huu Vinh; and rights activists Tran Thi Nga, Truong Minh Tam, Truong Van Dung, Nguyen Thanh Ha, Bach Hong Quyen, and Ngo Duy Quyen.

As soon as the visitors left Tran Anh Kim’s house, their van was stopped by three police officers from Tran Hung Dao ward where Kim lives. The officers ordered them to report to police headquarters. When members of the group refused, saying they did nothing wrong, a group of thugs, acting in apparent coordination with the police, entered the van and assaulted them. Prominent blogger JB Nguyen Huu Vinh was dragged out of the van, beaten, and injured. Upon arriving at the police headquarters, he spat up blood. Film artist Nguyen Thi Kim Chi’s glasses were broken. Others including Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Tran Thi Nga, Ngo Duy Quyen, Bach Hong Quyen, and Truong Minh Tam were also beaten.

The government’s apparent use of thugs to assault rights campaigners is on the rise in Vietnam. Just three days prior to the Thai Binh visit incident, religious activist Nguyen Hong Quang, a pastor of an independent Mennonite branch in Ho Chi Minh city, was attacked by anonymous thugs. Pastor Quang was hospitalized with a broken nose and other injuries. In 2014 alone, at least 22 bloggers and activists reported that they were beaten by unknown persons. No one has been arrested or charged in any of these incidents.

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How International Human Rights Day Is Celebrated in Vietnam

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January 23, 2015

Which is worse, being thrown in jail or getting beaten up? This is a question activists in Vietnam were pondering on International Human Rights Day this month.

The government of Vietnam has been sending people to prison for dissent for more than half a century. Lately, the government has tried to persuade other governments and diplomats that it is becoming more tolerant, pointing to what it claims are decreasing arrests of critics.

It is very difficult in a one-party state with a state-controlled media to know how many people are arrested for political reasons, particularly in rural and distant parts of the country, but there is no doubt that the number of detentions remains alarming.

It’s not as if we are witnessing a “Hanoi Spring.” In 2014, at least 29 activists and bloggers were sentenced to many years in prison for national security-related crimes such as abusing the rights to freedom and democracy to infringe upon the interests of the state (Criminal Code article 258) or undermining national unity policy (article 87). This year, more than a dozen critics, including the prominent bloggers Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Quang Lap, were arrested pending investigation.

It may be a coincidence, but at the same time that the government has claimed it is decreasing political arrests, an alarming trend has developed. Thugs, who appear to be government agents in civilian clothes, have begun attacking dissidents with complete impunity, often in public. Most recently, on December 9, Nguyen Hoang Vi, a blogger, was walking home in Ho Chi Minh City when a group of men and women blocked her way, grabbed her hair and showered her with punches. Dozens of people, including members of government security forces stationed outside Vi’s house, watched without intervening. When a taxi driver attempted to take Vi to the hospital, the security forces intervened and forced him to take her home instead.

This incident, a day before International Human Rights Day, is a sad illustration of the state of human rights in Vietnam. Vi and her fellow bloggers are an increasingly influential force in Vietnam’s social and political life, using the Internet to publish information and opinions not allowed in the country’s heavily censored traditional media. But they are under near-constant physical, political and legal assault.

This was not the first time Vi was beaten by thugs for exercising her right to speak her mind. Security forces assaulted and locked her and another blogger, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, inside Vi’s house to stop them from attending a gathering to celebrate International Human Rights Day last year. Other activists who came to support them were beaten. During an effort to hold a human rights picnic and to distribute copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at a park in Ho Chi Minh City, in May 2013 Vi and her fellow activists were detained and their personal belongings confiscated. When Vi tried to retrieve her belongings the next day, Vi, her mother and sister were beaten in front of the police station.

The use of thugs to attack human rights activists and bloggers has increased at an alarming rate. In February, anonymous thugs beat father-son bloggers Huynh Ngoc Tuan and Huynh Trong Hieu in Quang Nam province. Two months earlier, Huynh Ngoc Tuan had suffered broken bones in another assault while he was campaigning for the rights of former political prisoners. In May, assailants broke the activist Tran Thi Thuy Nga’s arm and leg. In November, thugs assaulted and injured Truong Minh Duc, a former political prisoner and blogger. Even the French Consul in Ho Chi Minh City was roughed up recently when he went to the scene of a standoff between activists and unidentified thugs.

The list goes on and on.

Read full article at : http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/01/23/how-international-human-rights-day-celebrated-vietnam

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EU and Vietnam hold Human Rights Dialogue

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The European Union and Vietnam held on 19 January 2015 in Brussels the fourth round of their annual enhanced Dialogue on Human Rights in the spirit of the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed in June 2012.

The EU delegation was led by Mr Ugo Astuto, Director for South and South East Asia in the European External Action Services (EEAS). The Vietnamese delegation was led by Mr Vu Anh Quang, Director General of the International Organisations Department of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and included experts from various services, agencies and ministries.

The Dialogue allowed the two sides to exchange views on a wide range of issues and was conducted in a frank and open atmosphere. It provided an opportunity to take stock of positive developments in the area of human rights in Vietnam, such as progress towards the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and the successful 2014 Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Dialogue was complemented by a meeting with the European Parliament the same day and a visit to a prison in Berlin on 20 January.

The EU raised issues relating to freedom of expression and the media, including internet legislation and expressed concern regarding extensive application of national security provisions in Vietnam’s penal code. The EU reiterated its serious concerns regarding the situation of a number of human rights defenders, activists, bloggers and their relatives. The EU also raised the issue of implementation of freedom of religion or belief, noting both positive developments such as the long-awaited visit by the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief last July and concerns as to persisting restrictions. The EU encouraged Vietnam to move towards a more open society, based on the international standards of rule of law and respect for human rights.

The EU, together with some of its Member States, is supporting legal and judicial reforms under preparation in Vietnam, in the light of the Constitution amended in 2013, through technical assistance. The EU pointed to the revision of the penal code as an opportunity to ensure coherence with the principles established in the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The EU stressed the importance of access to lawyers and the right to a fair trial, as well as the need to improve prison conditions. The EU regretted the high number of death sentences handed down in 2014 and reiterated its call on the Government of Vietnam to take steps towards eventual abolishment of capital punishment. In this context the EU encouraged Vietnam to further reduce the number of offences punishable by death penalty and improve prison conditions for persons on death row.

Read more: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/vietnam/press_corner/all_news/news/2015/20150119_en.htm