Archive for the ‘Montagnard Foundation’ Category

Vietnam’s Montagnards Still Under Communist Fire; UNHCR Failing

August 20, 2007

August 18, 2007
The Co Van

Montagnards fleeing repression from the Central Highlands in Vietnam to Cambodia have come to fear a man named Eldon that works for the UNHCR in Phnom Penh. They don’t trust him and for good reason. They consider him their enemy and the guy who works for the communists in Vietnam.

Just last week, for the first time, the United Nations High Commissioner on refugees in Cambodia has finally admitted that a Montagnard named Y-Phuoc Buon Krong may have been tortured in Vietnam. Here’s the kicker why the Montagnards can never catch a break in their human rights struggle in Vietnam. The UNHCR says that they can’t talk about his torture for confidentially purposes.

Mr. António Guterres
UN High Commissioner for Refugees

I know about this type of deceit from first hand experience. I passed through Phnom Penh in late 2005 and met Eldon Hagar, UNHCR field rep, and toured the Montagnard refugee camp. On every issue, Hagar parroted the communist party line of the politburo in Vietnam, suspecting me to believe that besides the fabulous salary that a UN worker makes, only a person ingratiating himself to the totalitarian system in Vietnam must also be a true believer.

The Montagnards I met in the camp told me that they were afraid to talk to Eldon, because when they did, he reported what they said to the communist authorities. Then their families suffered reprisals.

Hagar first stunned me with this silly explanation. “Vietnam is no longer a communist country. It’s an authoritarian one,” he said. That should be startling news to the Politburo and the Vietnamese Communist Party that is the real power behind the Socialist Republic of Vietnam today. Perhaps Hagar doesn’t know about the police state control in the Provinces and Districts of Vietnam and the People’s Party that governs at every level with an iron first.

I informed Hagar that I had just come from Vietnam where I had finally located an old former South Vietnamese soldier friend of mine after 35 years. He was afraid for me to visit him in his village because the police would come after I left and cause problems for him. Hagar barely listened to me. Shrugging his shoulders he said that the same kind of thing happens in America. That’s strange talk for an American employed by the UNHCR.

Hagar lectured me on what he considered the real problem in Vietnam in regard to the Montagnards. “The Dega Christianity (tinh lanh) practiced by the Montagnards isn’t a religion at all. It’s a political movement led by Kok Ksor of the Montagnard Foundation in America to take back the Central Highlands. It has nothing to do with religion. The Montagnards have been manipulated by outside sources.”

Eldon. You’re parroting the communist party line in Vietnam. That’s the kind of stuff one reads in their newspapers controlled by the Communist Party. It’s hogwash.

But it is a fact that that Vietnamese Communist Party has confiscated huge tracts of the Montagnard homeland for their own personal use. Thousands of party members were transferred south after the war to take over the rich homeland and exploit the vast natural wealth there.

Ever the apologist, Hagar has a simple excuse for that. “Not only did they take the Montagnard land, they took all the peasant’s land in Vietnam and dispersed it as they saw fit.”

My conversation with Hagar becomes more bizarre, regarding human rights abuses.

Says Hagar, “I’ve been to Vietnam several times now to investigate the alleged human rights abuses that the Montagnards claim happen to them. There’s nothing to it. “

At the time, Hagar had only been in Cambodia for 6 months and had been the recipient of several carefully guided tours in Vietnam with an official escort. No one gets into the Central Highlands without an official communist party minder.

“We now have an employee on our UNHCR staff that investigates the reported human rights abuses. He is a Vietnamese based in Hanoi,” Hagar proudly boasts.

“Do you really believe that the communist party power apparatus would allow a Vietnamese to conduct an independent investigation? “ I asked.

Hagar’s next statement epitomizes the sell out of the Montagnards by the UNHCR when he answered,” Yes, by all means. Why wouldn’t we trust his reports? He wouldn’t jeopardize his job with us to report falsely. And if there were really any human rights abuses, don’t you think the American CIA would know about them? Don’t you think they have spies in the Central Highlands?”

The UNHCR rep in Hanoi is Vu Anh Son. Following a field trip to the Central Highlands in Oct 5-6 of 05, he came back with a glowing report. He stated that 8 of the 13 returned Montagnards are leading good lives with high stable incomes. Each of the target families earns up to hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dong a year (equal to approximately 6000 dollars)

For UNHCR to accept such a report is ludicrous and just plain dumb on their part to make it public. The $6000 a year is 30 times what a peasant in Vietnam can make in a year. Some of the best factory jobs around Saigon pay 100 dollars a month. The proselytizing department in Hanoi that directs the UNHCR rep behind the scenes needs to learn how to write more credible propaganda reports.

No one with an ounce of sense about the situation on the ground in Vietnam would believe such nonsense. It’s written for those living in the extended age of childhood, or could the UNHCR and Hagar be that naïve? Do they know how stupid they look by parroting such nonsense?

After spending several hours with Hagar, it’s plain to see why none of the human rights organizations in Phnom Penh have any respect for UNHCR. They have compromised themselves by trying to appease the tyrants who are committing what many human rights organization say is genocide against the Montagnards in Vietnam.

In July of 05, one hundred Montagnards under the care of the UNHCR were forced back to Vietnam. The guards employed night sticks and electric batons on the Montagnards who sat on the ground and refused to get on the buses to transport them back to Vietnam. Eighteen NGO’s in Phnom Penh signed a letter of protest to the Cambodian government over the abuse. I even talked to a human rights worker who witnessed the event.

View also this interview-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOSKDjYPyXU 
you can listen to a Montagnard refugee who escaped to the US testify how he witnessed “Eldon” authorize the forced return and brutal beatings of these 100 Montagnard men, woman and children.

But Hagar offers another alibi. “Their source of information is a Human Rights Watch representative here in Phnom Penh. Human Rights Watch is not a credible source of truth here.”

HAGAR and the UNHCR are quite willing to accept anything the police state of Vietnam tells them, and to deny the legitimate humans rights abuses that the Montagnards have suffered for 32 years since the end of the Vietnam War.

Montagnards today are still fleeing Vietnam into the two eastern Provinces of Cambodia where they are hunted down for bounties and sold back to the Vietnamese Police authorities. The UNHCR’s response to this was to move their refugee camp from the Vietnamese/Cambodia border back to Phnom Penh, a distance of 200 kilometers-an impossible distance for a fleeing Montagnard to reach safety.

Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a long-time prisoner in the Communist Gulag, would have this to say to Hagar about the UNHCR’s unchallenged acceptance of what the police state system feeds them from Hanoi. “During my time in the camps, I had got to know the enemies of the human race quite well. They respect the big fist and nothing else. The harder you slug them, the safer you will be.”

Unlike Solzhenitsyn, it seems that Eldon Hagar and the UNHCR officials in Phnom Penh have become appeasers and a doormat to the “enemies of the human race.”

“Now, you will have to decide who is telling the truth here in Phnom Penh,” said Hagar as I left.

“The NGO community has their own agenda, but we at UNHCR don’t have one. We’re here to help the Montagnards.”

That parting line could not have been scripted better by beloved Big Brother in Hanoi, Vu Anh Son, who is also there to help the Montagnards.

The Co Van
Southeast Asian Traveler and Vietnam Veteran
Aug 2007

From Peace and Freedom: “Co Van” is Vietnamese for “advisor” or “consultant.”

For more information, go to the Montagnard Foundation:
http://www.montagnard-foundation.org/homepage.html

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Montagnard Man In Vietnam Tortured After Talk With U.N.

August 9, 2007

The following comes from:
Scott Johnson, Advisor,
Montagnard Foundation
http://www.montagnard-foundation.org/homepage.html

Please be assured that the Degar Montagnard man named Y Phuoc Buon Krong was indeed beaten and tortured for two days by communist Vietnamese authorities after speaking to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials this July 2007.

This information is highly reliable. (see press release
http://www.montagnard-foundation.org/homepage.html

THE VILLAGE MEETING WAS STAGED FOR UNHCR

The Montagnard Foundation has further re-confirmed from various sources that Vietnamese security forces had gone into the village of Buon Cuor Knia prior to the UNHCR officials arriving there and threatened the villagers beforehand that if they say anything negative to foreigners when they arrive in the village that they will be arrested, tortured and imprisoned. The entire village was deeply frightened when the UNHCR officials arrived in company of security forces and further the security forces later prevented UNHCR from meetings the villagers. We re-confirm the entire meeting was a scheduled attempted “set up” by Vietnamese security forces to hoodwink the UNHCR.

Please also see website of testimony of Degar Montagnard torture victims http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOSKDjYPyXU .

In this testimony you can hear how torture is conducted in Vietnam and how beatings and forced deportations of over 100 Montagnards have occurred.

Triangle of Death:Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia: From the Democracy-Project

July 28, 2007

Submitted to Peace and Freedom for publication by Human Rights activisits Bruce N. Kesler, The Democracy Project.

July 27, 2007

Last April, we wrote about the deforestation in Vietnam and in June about the deforestation in Cambodia, in both cases politicos, their cronies and international businesses cozily profiteering and indigenous peoples suffering the loss of their way of life and resources to live.

Recently, NGO’s Global Witness and Human Rights Watch reported on these depredations, and called for international action, to cut off the funding that facilitates this, as Montagnard Foundation calls it, Triangle of Death.

Below is a press release from the Montagnard Foundation, with links to the in depth Global Witness report and Human Rights Watch’s statement, which is included in this post, and the action statement by the Montagnard Foundation..

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 27 July 2007 Spartanburg, SC, USA

THE TRIANGLE PROJECT: The governments of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have embarked on a massive economic development project in the vast region (triangle area) of their countries. The “master plan” was adopted in agreements reached between the Prime Ministers of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia at their 3rd summit in 2004 and ratified by the three countries on 28 November 2004. The triangle area encompasses over a hundred thousand square miles in the region bordering these three countries and has already resulted in deforestation and the forced removal of indigenous Degar Montagnards from their ancestral lands. Endemic levels of corruption exist at every level of government in these three countries and environmental exploitation and land rights exploitation has negatively affected the indigenous peoples throughout the region. Deforestation is continuing at unprecedented levels in Cambodia and Laos as these countries turn a blind eye to illegal logging, permitting officials at the highest levels of government to reap massive profits from deforestation. Global Witness has directly implicated the Cambodia government in this abuse of power in a 95 page report. See: Global Witness report.

The government of Vietnam has already decimated the ancient forests of the Central Highlands leaving Cambodia and Laos’s rain forests next in line. Throughout the region the indigenous peoples, Degar Montagnards and other indigenous minorities such as the Hmong face forced or coerced removals from their lands where they will be driven into poverty and malnutrition or killed. Little has been done by donor nations to confront the corruption and Global Witness calls the donors, “spineless” while Human Rights Watch stated on 15 June 2007 “The $5 billion in aid plowed into Cambodia in the past decade has yielded little in return for the donors or the Cambodian people”. See: Human Rights Watch statement.

Human Rights Watch Statement:

Cambodia: Donors Must Hold Government Accountable
Banning of Forest Report Mocks Commitments to Human Rights
(New York, June 15, 2007) – Cambodia’s international donors should not accept any more empty promises from the Cambodian government on human rights, the rule of law and good governance, Human Rights Watch said today. The annual Consultative Group meeting of donors is scheduled to take place in Phnom Penh on June 19-20, and donors are expected to pledge more than US$600 million in additional aid for the next year.Human Rights Watch said that the Cambodian government has made virtually no progress in the past decade on key pledges to donors on the rule of law or judicial independence. Impunity for human rights violations remains the rule. Corruption is rampant. Natural resources are still being plundered. Those who report on such abuses are threatened or harassed and sometimes subject to violence.

“The $5 billion in aid plowed into Cambodia in the past decade has yielded little in return for the donors or the Cambodian people,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The meeting has become an empty annual ritual, with the government making and breaking promises every year. There will be more promises made this year, but without serious donor pressure they, too, will be broken.”

Human Rights Watch called on the Cambodian government to rescind its June 3 order to “ban and collect” the recent report by Global Witness. The report, “Cambodia’s Family Trees,” alleges illegal logging by individuals close to Prime Minister Hun Sen. It also claims that the government’s promises to end illegal logging have been broken, that the army, military police and police are deeply involved in illegal logging, and that funds from illegal logging support Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit, which has been responsible for human rights abuses.

The government should officially repudiate reported statements by Kompong Cham provincial governor Hun Neng, Hun Sen’s brother. Hun Neng reportedly said on June 11 that “If they [Global Witness] come to Cambodia, I will hit them until their heads are broken.”

“The government’s reaction to the Global Witness report shows its lack of commitment to freedom of expression and public debate, and its continued thuggish behavior,” said Adams. “Donors should insist that the government undertake a credible judicial investigation into the criminal activities detailed in the report, rather than resort to violent threats against its authors. Donors often complain about a lack of political will from the government, but this will be a test of their political will, too.”

Human Rights Watch said that donors have a major role to play in determining Cambodia’s future by continuing their assistance to civil society and insisting that the government fully comply with commitments made at successive donor meetings dating back to 1993. After billions of dollars of donor support over the past 14 years, it is time for a clear and unambiguous signal to be sent to the government. Donors should make it clear that they can no longer accept previously unmet promises.

For more than a decade, donors have been providing aid equivalent to roughly half Cambodia’s national budget. As donors have noted, good governance is directly linked to a country’s pace of development. There is little doubt that Cambodia’s development continues to be slowed by the country’s poor governance.

“If donors are serious about development in Cambodia, they should start generating momentum for real reform,” said Adams. “They need to emphasize, not marginalize, the links between human rights and development.”

Development assistance and budgetary support should be contingent on the government meeting agreed benchmarks on human rights, the rule of law, and good governance, such as:

· Tackling impunity for human rights abuses, including the many extrajudicial killings carried out during and after the July 1997 coup by Hun Sen’s government;
· Ceasing to harass and threaten civil society activists and opposition party members;
· Ensuring that the rights of individuals and organizations to defend and promote human rights are protected, including the right to peacefully criticize and protest government policies, in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1998 United Nations General Assembly Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
· Creating an independent and restructured National Election Committee;
· Liberalizing electronic media ownership rules, including allowing transmitters of private, critical media to be as strong as those of pro-government private stations;
· Complying fully with previous Consultative Group commitments to address corruption and misuse of natural resources and other state assets; these include public disclosure of information concerning management of land, forests, mineral deposits and fisheries, as well as the location of military development zones; and,
· Passing legislation on asset disclosure and anti-corruption that meets international standards, and appointing an independent, international external auditor for government finances.

Past meetings of the Consultative Group have been attended by 18 countries and five intergovernmental organizations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus the Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations Development Program, and the World Bank.

“The donors’ list of conditions hardly changes over time, and the government simply ignores them year after year,” said Adams. “Hun Sen continues to run circles around the donors, making the same empty promises every year and laughing all the way to the bank.”

THE MONTAGNARD FOUNDATION CALLS ON:

International donors namely, the United States, Japan, the European Union, Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Singapore, Sweden, the IMF, United Nations, World Bank and Asian Development Bank to consider withdrawing funding to the Triangle Project and to review their overall aid commitments to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam given the endemic history of corruption, environmental degradation, exploitation and human rights violations committed by these three countries.