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Conflicts over Land and Religion in 
Vietnam's Central Highlands

Resume et Recommendations en français

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Copyright © April 2002 by Human Rights Watch.
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ISBN: 1-56432-272-6
Library of Congress Control Number: 2002104126

Table of Contents


I. Summary and Recommendations 

II. Introduction 
An Independent Homeland 
The Government Response 
Rhetoric and Reality 

III. A History of Resistance to Central Government Control 
Customary Lands 
The Dega People-An Oral History 
Promises of Autonomy: The French 
Promises of Autonomy: Hanoi 
The 1958 Bajaraka Movement 
The Second Indochina War: 1960-1975 
The FULRO Rebellions: 1964-1965 
Easing of Tensions in the mid-1960s 
The Highlands After 1975 

IV. Government Policies Toward Ethnic Minorities
"Mutual Respect, Participation, and Equal Rights"
Fixed Fields, Fixed Settlements 
Regreening the Barren Hills 

V. Population Explosion: The Impact of Migration 
Organized Migration
Spontaneous Migration
The Coffee Connection
Soaring Population: The Example of Dak Lak 

VI. The 1990s: Escalation in Land Conflicts 
Lack of Land Security 
State Confiscation of Land 
"A Plea for Help" 
Lack of Government Action 
No Response after Five Years: The Conflict in D Village 
Intersection of Land Conflicts and Religious Persecution 
Escalating Tensions over Land 
"One Day We Will be the Ones in Charge" 

VII. Repression of Ethnic Minority Protestants 
Christianity in the Highlands 
Government Statistics: Protestantism in the Central Highlands (1975-2000) 
The House Church Movement 
Party Directives to Suppress Minority Christians 
Pressure on House Churches 
Arbitrary Fines and Forced Labor 

VIII. Ethnic Discrimination 
Pressure to Limit Family Size

IX. The Movement for Land Rights and Religious Freedom 
The Run-up to the Protests 
Government Surveillance 
The January 2001 Crackdown 
The February 2001 Demonstrations 
February 2: Pleiku 
February 3: Buon Ma Thuot
Clashes Between Police and Protesters
February 5-6: Ea H'leo 
February 14: Kontum 
Coerced or Willing Participants? 

X. Government Response: The Initial Reaction 
The Immediate Response: Arrests and Police Sweeps
Surveillance and Interrogations 
Police Torture 
Targeting of Christians 

XI. Increasing the Pressure
Travel Restrictions and Increased Surveillance 
Restrictions on Diplomatic and Media Access 
Intensified Repression of Christians 
The Trials 

XII. Interpreting the Unrest
Acknowledgment of Grievances
Hearts and Minds 
The June 2001 Party Advisory

XIII. Refugee Flight to Cambodia
The Tripartite Talks 
Flight to Cambodia: Arrest, Mistreatment and Forced Return 

XIV. Tightening Controls 
The Christmas Crackdown
The One-Year Anniversary 

XV. CASE STUDY: The Church Burning and Killing by Security Forces in Plei Lao 
The Church at Plei Lao 
The Prayer Meetings 
The Shooting
The Church Burning 
The Arrests 
The Aftermath
The Government's Response 

XVI. CASE STUDY: The Goat's Blood Oath Ceremonies in Ea H'leo 
Crude-and Cruel-Rituals

XVII. CASE STUDY: Arrest and Torture of Highlanders Deported from Cambodia 
Buon Ea Sup: Why People Fled 
Torture and Detention 

Selected Bibliography

Appendix A: The Land Conflict in D Village:First Complaint, 1995 

Appendix B: The Land Conflict in D Village: Second Complaint, 2000 

Appendix C: The Interrogation of a Protestant Church Leader, Dak Lak, July 2001

Appendix D: Complaint from Buon Don District Villagers to Bureau of Religious Affairs

Appendix E: Employment Discrimination Against Minority Christians 

Appendix F: Citizen Petition: "A Report on the Cruel Action Against the Tribal People in the Highlands" 

Appendix G: "Official Pledge" Read During the Goat's Blood Ceremonies 

Appendix H: March 26, 2001 Deportations, Document 1 

Appendix I: March 26, 2001 Deportations, Document 2 

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