Sacrifice at the Shrine of Trade [Excerpts]
US military documents indicate that at any one time during the Vietnam War an estimated 40,000 Montagnards served with the American military and throughout the decade long war it is likely 100,000 Montagnards fought as allies with the United States. By the end of the war roughly one quarter of the Montagnard population had perished, some 200,000 people including half the adult male population who died fighting communism.
Today, some thirty three years after the Vietnam War ended, hundreds of Christian Montagnards or Degar people rot in Vietnamese communist prisons, seemingly abandoned by their former ally as the US State Department deems them unfit for categorization as “prisoners of concern.”
How do we know this? Well, for starters in 2006 the (then) US Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Marine told us so. Yet, we also know that since 2001 untold thousands (I must emphasize thousands) of Montagnards have been arrested, tortured and threatened in a campaign by Vietnamese authorities to crush the spread of Christian house churches and repress the entire Montagnard population. Some of these Christian hill tribe people have even been murdered by security forces. Curiously this persecution in Vietnam has received little attention by the media yet details of this official religious policy, called Plan 184, were first uncovered back in the late 1990s.
Vietnam is today quite intent on maintaining archetypical communist control over religion, and Montagnards are threatened and tortured into signing ‘forced’ confessions or pledges to stop participation in Christian house churches. While thousands have been persecuted, hundreds of Montagnards have actually been sentenced to long prison terms not only for being members of these house churches, but for speaking out against human rights abuses or for trying to flee to Cambodian as refugees.