Vietnam lists Montagnard groups as 'terrorist'

Vietnam announced on March 7 that it has listed two pro-separatist Montagnard groups based in the US as "terrorist organizations." The term Montagnard refers to various highland ethnic minorities, also collectively known as the Dega, that are distinct from the country's majority Viet population. Under the "terrorist" designation, anyone found by Vietnamese authorities to have engaged with or aided the organizations may face criminal charges.

The organizations are the Montagnard Support Group, established in 2011 and led by Y Mut Mlo, and Montagnards Stand for Justice, established in 2019 and led by Y Quynh Bdap. Both call for an independent Dega homeland in what are today the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

According to the statement from Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security, the two organizations are responsible for enticing ethnic minorities to use violence, conduct terrorism and incite riots. The government specifically accused the two groups of plotting and carrying out the June 2023 shootings at Ea Tieu and Ea Ktur, Dak Lak province, that killed four police officers. The US embassy in Hanoi has not yet released a statement regarding the "terrorist" designations.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has had a fractious relationship with the Montagnard. The Montagnard were utilized and trained by US forces during the Vietnam War as a proxy force against the communists who are now the ruling government in Hanoi.

From Jurist, March 7. Used with permission.

See our last report on the Montagnards.

Concern over convictions of rights advocates in Vietnam

The US State Department has expressed concern regarding the recent convictions of ethnic minority and religious freedom advocates in Vietnam. One of the cases mentioned in the statement is that of Y Krec Bya, a Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ member, who was convicted on April 8 under Article 116 of the Penal Code for allegedly "sabotaging the national unity." The State Department expressed deep concern over Bya's 13-year sentence for peacefully advocating for freedom of religion. (Jurist)