Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The Vietnamese government has intensified repression against Christians in the Central Highlands, mostly ethnic minority groups, known as Montagnards. A recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Montagnard Foundation has just published the names of 81 Montagnards imprisoned in the infamous prison in Nam Han (pictured) for participating in the activities of house churches, or because they are considered activists human rights, adding that in the same prison there are 30 other people whose names are unknown, while hundreds - 250, according to HRW - are detained elsewhere.
The 46-page report by HRW reveals the violence with which the authorities are trying to dissolve the house churches, force them to sign renunciations of faith, shutting down the borders to prevent them fleeing to Cambodia, where, moreover, the UN refugee camp that housed the Montagnards has been closed.
"The Montagnards - says Phil Robertson,the organisation’s Deputy Director for Asia - are suffering severe persecution, especially those that are part of independent house churches, because the authorities do not tolerate religious activities that they can not see or control."
Based on official Vietnamese sources, the report documents the practice of forced renunciations of faith, to which Catholics and Protestants have been forced, as stated in October 2010 by the Communist Party Bao Gia Lai newspaper of the province of Gia Lai, 567 families in the district of Krong Pa have "given up" on religion, thanks to the daily visits of the Head of the municipality.
Then there is the behaviour of a special security corps (PA43) which aims to capture, detain, interrogate people identified as political activists or members of house churches. The police are flanked by special "mobile courts".
The situation is such that HRW has asked the Vietnamese government to end the persecution and the U.S. government to include Vietnam once more among the countries that are of "particular concern" for religious freedom violations.