10/06/2006, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Christian Montagnard dies in Vietnamese jail

The man probably died from torture. Relatives are denied the right to collect the body. The community persecuted by Vietnamese authorities make an appeal to the countries with trade ties to Vietnam to do something to stop the violence against them.

Habong (AsiaNews) – A Montagnard (Degar) Christian has reportedly died in a Vietnamese prison following severe torture. According to the Montagnard Foundation, which broke the news, Thup died in Trai Ba Sao prison in Ha Nam. The man was arrested on March 24, 2004, and sentenced to ten year on February 24, 2005, reportedly for "public order offences." Officials told dead man's family he died on August 30, 2006.

According to the Montagnard Foundation, it was well known that Thup was severely tortured in prison. His wife and relatives asked officials to collect his body for burial but were refused. Still his village symbolically buried his clothes on September 1 and mourned him.

As an ethnic Degar, Thup belonged to a group persecuted by the Vietnamese government. The Degars have been deprived of their lands because of their Christian faith and, for the same reason, have had to endure torture in prison.

According to the organisation, more than 350 Degars are still in jail where they are under pressure to renege their faith or emigrate to Cambodia.

In a statement released to the press after Thup's death by the Montagnard Foundation, the Degar community made an appeal to "to all governments especially the United States who are now dealing with Vietnam in trade and business to please do what they can to prevent our people from dying in prison."

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