09/05/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Vietnamese Christian escapes to Cambodia, repatriated to death threats

Y Hning, an ethnic Degar or Montagnard, sought safety in a UN refugee camp; now he is under house arrest and cannot even go to work in his fields.
Spartanburg (AsiaNews) – Persecuted on ethnic and religious grounds, Y Hning (see photo) fled Vietnam for a UN refugee camp in Cambodia but was eventually shipped home. Back in Vietnam police forced his family to pay 100,000 dongs for his release and forced him to give up his Christian faith. Now he is under house arrest and in fear for his life.

Hning, 36, is an ethnic Degar, a minority living in Vietnam central highlands. The US-based Montagnard Foundation is appealing on his behalf to embassies and international agencies to spread the news so that he and his family can be spared further persecution.

In the Foundation’s appeal Y Hning is described as an ethnic Degar and a Christian from Ploi Todrah village, Bar Mah commune, in Gia Lai province, who has experienced persecution because of his ethnic affiliation, which is why he tried to flee the country.

After crossing the border with Cambodia he reached a refugee camp run by the UNHCR on 3 November 2008. Cambodian authorities repatriated him without allowing him to enjoy the protection of the UN agency.

Upon his repatriation the authorities detained him and forced his family to pay 100,000 dongs (only seven or eight dollars but a lot of money for Vietnamese farmers) for his release. Even though they raised the money and paid the fine, he was still placed under house arrest.

On 3 August the family was further required to “donate” a pig, the only animal it had left valued at 1.5 million dongs, for a party by local police.

On 8 August Hning was forced to sign a statement in which he formally renounced Christianity and pledged to stop attending the Degar church.  

Under house arrest he cannot work in his family’s fields and received further threats if he dared to flee again.

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