CALL FOR THAI GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE VIETNAMESE MONTAGNARD REFUGEES/ASYLUM SEEKERS

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PETITION TO THAI PRIME MINISTER PRAYUT CHAN-O-CHA
CALL FOR THAI GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE VIETNAMESE MONTAGNARD REFUGEES/ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM IMMIGRATION DETENTION CENTER.

Dear Prime Minister Prayut,

We, the undersigned, write to urge your government to immediately and unconditionally release 133 Montagnards who are currently in Immigration Detention Center (IDC). These persons are UNHCR recognized refugees and asylum seekers and they should not be held in detention. In a number of cases, children have been separated from their parents who are being held in the IDC – this is shameful and clearly violates Thailand’s international human rights obligations.

These persons have been detained since the early morning of August 28, 2018, when Thai police, immigration police, soldiers, and Ministry of Interior officials raided our people’s peaceful settlement in Bang Yai district of Nonthaburi province, and arrested over 180 Vietnamese and Cambodian ethnic minority people.

Vietnamese ethnic minority people are fleeing Vietnam today to escape political pressure from the government, persecution of our religion, and systematic economic and social discrimination. They deserve sympathy and support from Thailand, not indefinite detention in the IDC.

The Montagnards and ethnic peoples of the Vietnam highlands are on the brink of losing their entire culture. Traditional ways of life have been systematically abolished by Vietnam’s government. Development assistance, education, and humanitarian aid continue to be blocked and international observers are restricted from the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where the ethnic minority people live. The Central Highlands has become a kind of prison for the Montagnard people, surrounded by the Vietnam’s authoritarian, communist system of control, manned by soldiers and secret police.

Human Rights Watch has produced several reports over the past 5 years on the plight of the Montagnard people, and they agree that the Montagnard indigenous peoples of Vietnam are some of most marginalized people in the country. They have had their ancestral lands literally stolen from them by the Vietnamese government. They have also lost their language, the right to have home churches, the right to received educational scholarships, and the right to resolve community disputes in traditional ways.

Many Montagnards have been imprisoned for organizing services in their independent house churches. Police and security forces have detained Montagnards trying to practice their faith, tortured them repeatedly in custody until they either agreed to renounce their religion or they became so physically broken that they returned to their village to die.

For all these reasons, many Montagnards have fled out of Vietnam and escaped to Thailand to seek asylum.

Many of those arrested and being held in the IDC have passed the refugee status determination interviews of UNHCR and are now recognized as refugees. They now simply want to be allowed to live with their families while they wait for third country refugee resettlement.

We are calling you, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, to order the release of these unfortunate persecuted people. Please show compassion and release them and their children now from immigration detention.



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