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The communists will not let us pray. They say that Christianity is an American and French religion, so we came to live in the jungle. In our land under the communists, people pray at home secretly or in the rice fields. They cannot worship together like we do in the jungle. Here we are free.

-FULRO liaison officer in an interview with the Phnom Penh Post, just before surrendering to U.N. forces in Cambodia, 1992

The discontent in the Central Highlands arises not only out of the encroachment on Montagnard traditional lands but official harassment and discrimination against ethnic minorities who are evangelical Christians. For many of the highlanders who participated in the February 2001 protests, both issues-land and religion-are linked to their aspirations for independence.

The combination of mounting frustration and tight government controls on political expression has led to increasing politicization of religion in the Central Highlands. Protestant prayer and worship services provide a space for Montagnard expression not controlled by the authorities.

While article 70 of Vietnam's constitution and the ICCPR call for the right to freedom of religion, Vietnam's overall record on religious rights is poor.141 The government's 1999 decree on religion, while purporting to guarantee freedom of religion, provides for extensive government regulation of religious organizations. It requires government approval of religious seminaries and appointments of religious leaders and bans religious organizations that conduct activities contrary to "structures authorized by the prime minister."142 The decree calls for punishment of members of any religious organization that is "used to oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," as well as those who participate in undefined "superstitious activities."143

The government does not allow the existence of independent associations or nongovernmental organizations, including church groups.144 In Vietnam, for worship services to be legal, a religion must be formally approved by the VCP and its leaders vetted and approved by government authorities. The VCP-run Vietnamese Fatherland Front officially recognizes only six religious organizations-one each for Buddhists, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Hoa Hao and Cao Dai followers, and Muslims. Until 2001 the only Protestant churches recognized by the government were some fifteen churches in northern Vietnam that fell under the rubric of the northern branch of the Protestant evangelical Church, based in Hanoi.

In April 2001, the Bureau of Religious Affairs recognized the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (ECVN) in the south.145 One observer described this as a "modest concession after years of repression."146 While the decision theoretically extends to all the southern provinces of Vietnam, including the Central Highlands, it is doubtful that it will legalize the unregistered Protestant "house churches" in minority areas or any churches deemed to be Tin Lanh Dega (Dega Protestants).147 Religious freedom advocates have expressed concerns that the decision is another effort by the government to bring more Protestants under state control, and perhaps to bar minority Protestants from gathering to worship in house churches.148

While the ECVN historically included Montagnard churches in the Central Highlands as two-thirds of its members, authorities have been very reluctant to extend this recognition to the Montagnard congregations, which have exploded in number, and have all been considered illegal. The February 2001 demonstrations, involving many Christians, made the authorities even more wary. In late 2001, it appeared the authorities were going to grant some kind of recognition to a small number of Montagnard churches, particularly those congregations that were clearly non-political and which had had permanent church buildings in the past. However, as of February 2002, there were only two officially-recognized pastors for a congregation of 100,000 in Gia Lai.149 In Dak Lak, authorities had recognized only two individual churches as of March 2002, according to church sources there.

In March 1999, the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Religious Intolerance issued a highly critical report on religious freedom in Vietnam, based on his October 1998 visit to the country.150 The Vietnamese government subsequently repudiated the findings and announced it would no longer allow independent human rights monitors to visit Vietnam. The Vietnamese government reacted equally defensively to testimony in February 2001 by critics alleging religious repression in Vietnam before the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which later concluded that "the Vietnamese government continues to suppress organized religious activities forcefully and to monitor and control religious communities."151

Christianity in the Highlands

Protestantism is said to be the fastest growing religion in Vietnam, particularly among ethnic minorities in the Northern and Central Highlands. The largest concentration of Protestants in Vietnam is in the latter.152

Prior to the arrival of Christianity in the Central Highlands, most Montagnards' metaphysical beliefs centered around animism. Animist Jarai, Mnong, and Ede call the main spirits that they respect yang, with individual yang responsible respectively for the village, water, mountains, agricultural fields, large trees, rocks, and other natural phenomena. These spirits are believed to hold immense powers and, if properly treated, watch over the village and can ward off disease, poor crop harvests, or other calamities. Many highlanders believe that when the spirits are not treated properly there can be severe consequences to villages and crops as well as to individuals.153

Catholicism took root in the highlands with the establishment of the French mission at Kontum in 1850. Protestantism started to become popular in the mid-1950s, when American missionaries affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA), the Seventh Day Adventists, and the Summer Institute of Linguistics took up residence to conduct missionary activities, linguistic studies, and translate the Bible into Montagnard languages.154 After the reunification of Vietnam in 1975, the practice of Christianity had initially appeared to wane. Many Christian churches and religious schools were closed and ethnic minority pastors imprisoned. Despite these obstacles, the number of converts steadily rose, in part because of Christian radio programs in minority languages broadcast from the Far Eastern Broadcasting Corporation in the Philippines.

Since 1975, Protestant membership has quadrupled throughout Vietnam, to an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 adherents today. The numbers of Protestants in the Central Highlands is currently estimated at 229,000 to 400,000, with those in Dak Lak province alone increasing from 15,000 in 1975 to as many as 150,000 members today.155

Government Statistics: Protestantism in the Central Highlands (1975-2000)


Prior to 1975







rate (%)

Kon Tum





Dak Lak





Gia Lai





Lam Dong










Source: Government Committee for Religious Affairs, VCP Webpage, September 2001.

In the past, Montagnard traditional animist religious practices and rituals were discouraged by the government for being "superstitious" activities, or removed from the village context and commodified: costumed minority dancers were put up on stage to perform for visiting officials from the lowlands or foreign tourists.156 Ironically, in recent years highlanders who have converted to Christianity have complained about local officials forcing them to reinstall traditional ancestral altars in their homes and take down the sign of the cross. The "goat's blood ceremonies" employed in Dak Lak to secure pledges from highlanders not to continue any political activity consisted of a crude approximation of an animist ceremony (See Case Study XVI, "The Goat's Blood Oath Ceremonies in Ea H'leo," p. 163.)

Christianity among highlanders was largely dormant from the installation of the Communist regime in 1975 until the late 1980s, when reforms were implemented under doi moi and the FULRO resistance movement finally fell apart. Many Montagnards turned back towards Protestantism when they abandoned the armed struggle against the Hanoi regime in the early 1990s. "If we didn't have Christianity and the holy spirit with us, we would still use violence to oppose the Vietnamese, and we would all be dead," a former FULRO fighter told Human Rights Watch.157

Part of the appeal of Christianity during its resurgence was that it served as an underground, alternative outlet for Montagnard political aspirations and an avenue for protest in a context where all other forms of dissent were prohibited. Anthropologist Oscar Salemink noted: "Nowadays, the most conspicuous act of covert resistance is in the field of religion. With their traditional religious practices branded as superstition and outlawed, many Montagnards have turned to Christianity as an act of protest."158

The House Church Movement

Government restrictions on churches and organizations not recognized by the state means that despite the large numbers of Christians, there are few churches in the highlands. Most minority Protestants worship quietly in small groups in their homes. However, prior to the February 2001 demonstrations, it was not uncommon for minority church leaders to occasionally organize large religious gatherings in forests or farm fields, attended by as many as 200 people. Police would often break up the ceremonies and impose fines or other penalties on the participants, such as forced labor clearing fields, cutting grass or working on state coffee plantations.

Dedication or construction of buildings for use as churches is not only discouraged, but often actively banned, with reports of local authorities destroying churches. Human Rights Watch has received a number of reports of officials destroying Christian churches in the Central Highlands, such as the 1996 burning of a church in Dak Mil district, Dak Lak;159 the bulldozing of Tanh My church in Lam Dong province in December 1997;160 the destruction of a church in December 2000 in Dak N'Drung commune, Dak Song district, Dak Lak;161 and the burning down of the church in Plei Lao village, Gia Lai in March 2001.162 (See Case Study XV, "The Church Burning and Killing by Security Forces in Plei Lao," p. 150.)

Most ethnic minority Christians in the Central Highlands have joined a nationwide movement to form independent, and thus unregistered evangelical "house churches," with prayer services held in private homes. Larger prayer meetings and church services are often held late at night in people's homes from 2:00 a.m. until dawn- "the sleeping time for police," as Montagnards call it-to lessen the chance that authorities will monitor the gatherings.163

"All the pastors have to work in homes," said an Ede woman church leader from Dak Lak. "If you are seen having visitors to your house you have a problem, even if only two or three people have gathered."164

The house church movement began to gain popularity in 1989, when several congregations left the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) after four popular pastors were expelled or left. It is now estimated that house churches make up one-fourth of Vietnam's evangelical Protestants.165

Although officials in some lowland towns and cities have turned a blind eye to some ethnic Vietnamese house churches, most in the Central Highlands are closely monitored. As mentioned above, the government's recognition of the Evangelical Church of the South in February 2001 does not appear to apply to ethnic minority house churches.166

Particularly since the emergence of an activist Montagnard movement in early 2000, the practice of Tin Lanh Dega, or "Dega Christianity", combines aspirations for independence and the particular type of evangelical Christianity many highlanders practice. Montagnard preachers often use Biblical stories of the lost tribes of Israel and the promised land to illustrate the political struggle for independence, and prayer meetings are often followed by political discussions. While many minority Christians in the Central Highlands would reject the label of "Dega Christians," others use the term with pride. A Jarai village Bible teacher offered this explanation of the Tin Lanh Dega:

We call our church "Dega." The reason we want our own religion is because in the past there were Vietnamese leaders who controlled the church. They would come into our villages and take photographs of poor people in the Central Highlands to raise charity money from abroad. None of that money ever reached us. We started the Dega religion in 2000. We wanted to make our own church to contact directly with international supporters, not through Vietnam. The authorities charge that we believe in politics and that it's not religion we are doing.167

The Ede woman church leader from Dak Lak summed up "Dega Christianity" this way: "We want our own religion. It's our culture-if you kill it, our soul will still live."168

Not all Montagnard Protestants support "Dega Christianity," which is seen as mixing religion and politics. Two Montagnard pastors who spoke to a government-sponsored press tour to Pleiku in February 2002 expressed criticism of Protestants who had joined the pro-independence protests a year earlier. "Many of the protesters were very young and had not learned the true message of Protestantism," Montagnard pastor Siu Pek told reporters. "Some people mistakenly associated Protestantism with politics."

Siu Pek and another pastor, Siu Y Kim, said they believed most minority Christians in the Central Highlands belonged to more "orthodox" churches and did not support the idea of an independent state.169 In an interview with the VCP daily, Nhan Dan (The People), Siu Y Kim said: "In Vietnam, there is only one Protestant religion, only one State, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. There is no so-called `Dega State' and of course Protestant followers do not recognize the so-called `Dega Protestant Church.'"170

Vo Than Tai, the chief of Dak Lak's bureau of religious affairs, put it more strongly: "Dega Protestantism is not a religion. It is a political organization," he said. "The abuse of religion that encroaches [on] the interest of the nation must be dealt with.171

While the numbers of Dega Protestants are difficult to determine, it appears that the religion has grown increasingly popular over the last several years. Both "Dega Christianity" and the Protestant house church movement more broadly provide a way for highlanders themselves to carve out their space in which to develop their own ethnic and religious identity. This is in defiance of the repressive strictures of the VCP, which insists that the national minorities and their church assimilate with lowland Kinh under the rubric of the party. Salemink summed this up succinctly:

What Protestantism does an organizational and ideological autonomy which allows space for a separate Montagnard (Jarai, Ede) ethnic identity in a context of increasing discipline, surveillance and governmentalization.... By redrawing the boundary between the Yuan (Kinh) and themselves (Dega, Montagnards) in the one field where the current regime leaves some space in the form of a theoretical freedom of religion, Montagnards reclaim some spiritual autonomy after their political defeat in the construction of a Mon-tagnard homeland with a fixed territory and statut particulier [i.e. Bao Dai's 1951 Edict].172

Protestant prayer and worship services provide a space for Montagnard expression not controlled by the authorities. In part for this very reason, the government has become increasingly suspicious of Protestants in the region, fueling a vicious cycle. To minority Christians, the fact that the government seeks to monitor and suppress house church services is proof that the government is not serious about respecting rights to freedom of religion. To government officials, the fact that highlanders attending house services sometimes speak about political matters is proof that the religion is a conduit for political subversion.

Party Directives to Suppress Minority Christians

The growth in Protestantism in the highlands, particularly during the last decade, is viewed with intense suspicion by the VCP and seen as a major challenge to the party's authority. The government's actions to suppress expression of independent political and religious ideas has not been subtle: it has banned churches in many villages, barred ministers from preaching, monitored private worship services, required that applicants abandon their faith as a condition of obtaining government jobs, and otherwise trampled on ethnic minority religious freedom.

Confidential government directives issued between 1999 and 2001 show a centrally directed national campaign and special bureaucratic infrastructure to target and suppress Christians in ethnic minority areas in the Northern and Western Highlands.

In 1999, for example, an official VCP body known as Ban Chi Dao 184, or the Committee for the Guidance of Correct Thought (hereafter referred to as Committee 184), released internal religious policy guidelines, which included an analysis of the perceived threat posed by evangelical Protestants in the highlands. After 1975, Committee 184 said, Protestantism was "abused by the evil-minded" in the region when FULRO members exploited religion in an effort to rebuild their rebellious force. Since 1980, when a number of evangelical pastors and followers were released from re-education camps, they resumed their proselytizing activities. Thus evangelical religion continued to grow, especially after renovation (doi moi), when Protestantism "literally exploded" in the Central Highlands:

Our administration proposed powerless psychological tools. The evangelical religion spread from one village to another, people began gathering together openly-creating a problem for the masses.173

In response, authorities closed churches and banned religious activities in some areas; fining, detaining or imprisoning those who persisted. Committee 184 documents described its successful effort to contain Protestantism:

When we pursued and drove away the FULRO and the rebellious groups, evangelical churches in some places had to be closed...After a few years of taking measures against Protestantism-such as suspending religious activities of Protestantism, dismissing the governing board of deacons, re-educating clergies in detention camps, closing churches, dealing forcefully with unauthorized religious activities and agitating for the masses to defect from their own religions-in fact, Protestants activities have been narrowed and prevented from operating in a normal way.174

Committee 184's guidelines stated that Protestant religious activities in the south were neither officially banned nor recognized. In some areas a more lenient approach was possible: followers were able to practice their religion unhindered, allowing the importing of Bibles and rebuilding of churches.175

The 1999 documents acknowledge the problems arising from the fact that the government lacked a unified policy in regard to Protestantism, leading some local authorities to crack down on the religion because they did not distinguish between the motivation of "true Protestants" and "unauthorized missionary activities as well as the abuse of Protestant religion by the evil-minded persons." That confusion, concluded Committee 184, "makes the believers feel repressed and alienated."176

Elements of a propaganda campaign for the Central Highlands were outlined in the VCP's "Program 184B." Re-education classes for pastors, evangelists and lay workers were to be organized to provide information about government policies and the "enemy's" scheme of "peaceful evolution," a term used to refer to anti-government forces abroad conspiring with internal dissidents to overthrow the regime.177 Plan 184B advised local cadre to categorize religious leaders on the basis of the potential danger to the state in order to take appropriate action:

Using the re-education classes and careful surveillance, put the religious leaders into appropriate categories, as follows:

· Those with a bad political history and who currently are in a resistance mode-keep track of them and don't let them go out to propagate religion.

· Those who take advantage of religion to go after individuals quietly, and practice superstition, etc.-ask them to confine their religious activities to their own home.

· A number who practice pure, orthodox religion, decide clearly how long, exactly where, and to what extent they may practice religious activities publicly.

a. Stop all propagation of religion to new areas that do not have government permission for this...

b. Propagandize and explain so that the citizens can chose for themselves.178

Program 184B ends with exhortations to "completely stop all the negative manifestations [of religion], and fight against the bad elements which are causing unrest..." Finally, in order to "reduce the damage that comes from abroad and handle in a timely manner any complications that may come up," the army, security police, government departments and mass party organizations are to identify cadres to be on alert, should intervention be needed.179

Program 184B details the perceived threat to the regime posed by Protestantism and mirrors what many minority Protestant have been told by local authorities in the villages:

According to the Christians, if you follow America you get help, the Soviet Union has collapsed, socialism is about finished-follow the party and the revolution and you will always be poor. Only by following the Lord can you escape your poverty. The highland peoples need their own land and need to establish their own country and resist the invasion of the Vietnamese, and so on...Because of this, the development of Christianity in the minority areas seems exploitative and takes on the appearance of political opposition and is fraught with the danger of causing social unrest, dividing the peoples, and alienating them far from our regime. The minority peoples, for a whole variety of reasons, have followed the Christian religion and don't understand the poisonous plot of the evil gang...180

This and other internal VCP documents show that Vietnam's leadership is aware of minority grievances in the Central Highlands but will allow no organized expression thereof. Given the government's extremely heavy-handed response to the February 2001 demonstrations, it is ironic that the documents indicate a certain awareness by some in the party that too much repression can be counterproductive, attracting people to the forbidden religion:

...Using methods of fighting the contagion of Christianity in the minority areas (such as using force to make people renounce their religion, fining people, arresting and confining missionaries to prevent their activities) has the opposite effect of making the people even more curious...Actually the numbers grow slowly if we have a relaxed policy, and if we crack down hard, Christianity grows faster.181

Pressure on House Churches

Interviews with highlanders and citizen complaint petitions show that the repression of ethnic minority Christians in the Central Highlands has been going on for a long time, particularly since the resurgence of Protestantism after 1992. Catholics have generally been under less pressure in the Central Highlands. After the February 2001 demonstrations, however, ethnic minority Catholics in Kontum were called to a number of meetings in which local authorities warned them not to repeat the mistakes of the "Dega Protestants."182

A Jarai from Gia Lai described the atmosphere for minority Protestants: "When we meet, the police watch and walk around and listen to what we say. They try to listen to what we're praying for and see if it's political. They do this all the time, but especially at Christmas."183

One Jarai man, who was a Bible teacher for five villages in Ea H'leo district of Dak Lak, described numerous attempts by officials to intimidate him since 1993, when police reportedly fired a gun over his house and detained him at the commune headquarters for a night. Christians in his village needed to constantly change location of the house church, out of fear of arrest. In 1996 he was arrested again, during a prayer service in a house church. Another time he was beaten in the village. Other times he was threatened, sometimes at gunpoint. In December 2000 the police tried to break up a Christmas celebration in his village. "We asked the police why lowland Vietnamese can celebrate Christmas, but not us," he said. "They didn't arrest anyone, so after they left, we continued the ceremony."184

An Ede church leader from a hamlet near Buon Ma Thuot town said that after being arrested and imprisoned in a dark cell for a year in 1985 for FULRO activities, she left the armed group and turned towards Christianity. The official harassment continued:

When I was released from prison I started to preach the gospel. The Communists arrested me and took me to the provincial police station where I was beaten and put on probation. They say that our religion is FULRO and not a real religion, and don't allow us to follow it.185

The Ede church leader described how penalties increase with each infraction committed by evangelical pastors. For the first offense police impose fines of 1 million dong (about U.S. $77) and confiscate all documents and Bibles. The second time, they call the pastor to the commune or provincial police station and put the pastor on probation, often accompanied by forced labor cutting grass or clearing fields. After that, a jail sentence is a definite possibility, she said. She herself was put on probation and detained at the commune police station for fifteen days in 1987 and again in 1994, when four truckloads of armed police broke up a Christmas celebration she was leading. "Every Christmas they would come," she said. "We would hide the books and hymnals. They'd ask us why we continued to worship and ask us if we wanted to go back to jail."186

Arbitrary Fines and Forced Labor

In addition to fines, many Montagnard Christians have been subjected to forced labor as penalties for organizing or attending religious gatherings or refusing to denounce Christianity. "Many of the known prominent Christians have experienced this in Kontum and Gia Lai," said an aid worker.187 While the work is relatively mild-having to use a scythe to cut the grass around provincial buildings or clearing scrubland by hand-the number of days can be significant, reducing farmers' time in their fields, and therefore their ability to make a living.

One Jarai man from Gia Lai said that since becoming a Protestant in 1997 he had been called to meet with local authorities more than 100 times in efforts to pressure him to renounce Christianity. Each time that he did not agree, he was forced to work. The man had copies of official citations from the police in his commune showing that he had been forced to work a total of 129 days from mid-1997 until mid-2001, when he fled from Vietnam.188

"Each time they asked me if I was still a Protestant, and when I said yes they made me cut the grass around the People's Committee building," he said. "I got used to it over the years. They won't change, and I won't change. It's part of my life."

This particular man's case appeared to be unusual. While others who have converted to Protestantism since 1995 told Human Rights Watch that they have been exposed to forced labor, most had been forced to work much less, with many estimating they had worked eight to ten penalty days a year. The Ede woman church leader, however, described another severe case of forced labor penalties in Dak Lak:

The police came while we were having a religious meeting. Some of the people ran away. The police asked who the preacher was. I said I was. They gave me an invitation to the subdistrict office for the next day. There were lots of questions. I was forced to work for three days to cut grass and clear the grounds near the police station. The whole congregation came to help.

The police let me stay home for two days but then they called me again. They kept asking me about FULRO and the church. They'd send me home but then the city and provincial police would call me in. Sometimes they'd just hit the table and yell at me. One day they took me to a special place with a flag out front. I thought they'd brought me somewhere to kill me but they didn't. This happened for three years-every two or three days they would call me in. They were watching me the whole time.189

141 Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Vietnam is a state party, provides:

1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

142 Decree No. 26/1999/ND-CP, "Decree of the Government Concerning Religious Activities" (translation on file at Human Rights Watch), articles 8 and 18-26.

143 Decree No. 26/1999/ND-CP, articles 5 and 7. Article 5 states: "All activities which threaten freedom of religious belief, all activities using religious belief in order to oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, to prevent the believers from carrying out their civic responsibilities, to sabotage the union of all the people, to go against the healthy culture of our nation, as well as superstitious activities, will be punished in conformity with the law."

144 See Human Rights Watch, "Vietnam: Repression of Dissent," vol. 12, no. 1 (C), May 2000.

145 Decision No. 15 QD/TGCP, "Concerning the approval of legal recognition of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (south)," Government Bureau of Religious Affairs, Hanoi, March 16, 2001 (translation on file at Human Rights Watch).

146 Vietnam Observer, "Opportunity and Danger: Prospects for Vietnam's Protestants in 2001," March 26, 2001.

147 Nguyen Minh Quang, "Evangelism," Religious Problems in Vietnam, The Gioi Publishers, 2001. Freedom House, Center for Religious Freedom, "Correct Thinking in Vietnam: New Official Vietnam Documents Revealing Policy to Repress Tribal Christians," July 2001.

148 David Brunnstrom, "Hanoi recognizes southern Protestant church branch," Reuters, April 3, 2001. See also Vietnam Observer, "Analysis of Decision No 15," March 30, 2001. Confidential religious policy guidelines issued by the VCP in 1999 cautioned against linking ethnic minority Protestant churches in the Northern and Central Highlands with ethnic Vietnamese Protestant churches in the lowlands: "Local-level conferences of the Evangelical Church are to be conducted only in the churches which are in a state of normal and stable operation among the Vietnamese ethnic group in the lowland areas. These conferences cannot be extended to the areas inhabited by minority tribes in Western Highlands, Southern Truong Son Mountains [i.e. Central Highlands] as well as where there are the new converts to the religion...It is not yet our policy to allow evangelical church organizations in tribal and mountainous areas to be related with evangelical denominations in provinces and cities in the lowland plains areas." Steering Committee 184, "Top Secret; Program 184A: Development of Policy on Protestantism in some Provinces and Cities," Hanoi, March 5, 1999. Published by the Center for Religious Liberty of Freedom House in November 2000 under the title "Directions for Stopping Religion."

149 David Brunnstrom, "Pastors say some curbs eased in Vietnam highlands," Reuters, February 18, 2002.

150 Commission on Human Rights, "Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Religious Intolerance; Addendum: Visit to Vietnam," Report submitted by Abdelfattah Amor, December 12, 1998.

151 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, "Congress Should Demand Religious-Freedom Improvements As it Considers Bilateral Trade Agreement With Vietnam," September 12, 2001.

152 Vietnam Observer, "Dimensions of the Protestant Movement in Vietnam and Religious Freedom Restrictions and Abuses They Suffer," October 15, 2001.

153 For additional information on animist religious practices of indigenous highlanders in Cambodia and Vietnam, see: Gerald Cannon Hickey, Shattered World: Adaptation and Survival among Vietnam's Highland People's during the Vietnam War, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993. Georges Condominas, We Have Eaten the Forest: The Story of a Montagnard Village in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, New York: Kodansga International, 1994. Joanna White, "The Indigenous Highlanders of the Northeast: An Uncertain Future," Center for Advanced Study, 1996. Sara Colm, "Sacred Balance: Conserving the Ancestral Lands of Cambodia's Indigenous Communities," Indigenous Affairs, International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs, No. 4, October-December 2000.

154 According to the website of the Vietnamese Communist Party,, CMA first based missionaries in Vietnam in 1911 and started its evangelical missions in the Central Highlands in 1932.

155 Vietnam Observer, "Opportunity and Danger: Prospects for Vietnam's Protestants in 2001," March 26, 2001.

156 Salemink refers to this as the "folklorization of culture." Salemink, "The King of Fire and Vietnamese Ethnic Policy in the Central Highlands," p. 498.

157 Human Rights Watch interview with Mnong man, July 17, 2001.

158 Salemink, "The King of Fire," p. 521-522.

159 Human Rights Watch interview with Mnong people from Dak Mil district, Dak Lak, July 13, 2001.

160 Commission on Human Rights, "Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Religious Intolerance; Addendum: Visit to Vietnam," Report submitted by Abdelfattah Amor, December 12, 1998.

161 Human Rights Watch interviews with Mnong people from Dak Song district, Dak Lak, October 29, 2001.

162 In addition, at least four ethnic Mnong and Stieng churches in Binh Phuoc (former Song Be) province, which is south of Dak Lak, were reportedly demolished in 1999. International Christian Concern, Vietnam Country Report, October 2001.

163 Human Rights Watch interview with Mnong church leader from Dak Lak, July 16, 2001.

164 Human Rights Watch Interview with Ede woman church leader from Dak Lak, April 22, 2001.

165 Vietnam Observer, "Dimensions of the Protestant Movement in Vietnam and Religious Freedom Restrictions and Abuses They Suffer," October 15, 2001.

166 David Brunnstrom, "Hanoi recognizes southern Protestant church branch," Reuters, April 3, 2001.

167 Human Rights Watch interview with a Jarai Bible teacher from Gia Lai, June 28, 2001.

168 Human Rights Watch interview with Ede woman church leader from Dak Lak, April 22, 2001.

169 David Brunnstrom, "Pastors say some curbs eased in Vietnam highlands," Reuters, February 18, 2002.

170 Hong Thanh, "Aspirations for family reunion," Nhan Dan (The People), March 5, 2002.

171 Amy Kazmin, "Tensions rise over Vietnam's highland refugees," Financial Times, March 12, 2002.

172 Salemink, "The King of Fire," p. 523.

173 Steering Committee 184, "Top Secret; Program 184B: Developing the Economy and Culture, Normalizing Society and Building Political Infrastructure in the Mountainous Regions where the Minority Peoples are Christian Believers," Hanoi, May 3, 1999. Published by the Center for Religious Liberty of Freedom House in November 2000 under the title "Directions for Stopping Religion."

174 Ibid.

175 Ibid.

176 Ibid.

177 Ibid.

178 Ibid.

179 Ibid.

180 Ibid.

181 Ibid.

182 Human Rights Watch interview with Jarai and Bahnar residents of Sa Thay district, Kontum, October 16, 2001.

183 Human Rights Watch interview with Ede man from Dak Lak, April 22, 2001.

184 Human Rights Watch interview with Jarai man from Ea H'leo, Dak Lak, March 2001.

185 Human Rights Watch Interview with Ede woman church leader from Dak Lak, April 22, 2001.

186 Ibid.

187 Human Rights Watch interview with international aid worker, November 2, 2001.

188 In 1997 he was summoned by police five times and worked as forced labor for thirty days, in 1998 he was summoned seven times and worked thirty-six days, in 1999 he was summoned seven times and worked thirty days, in 2000 he was summoned four times and worked seventeen days, and in 2001 he was summoned seven times and worked twenty-four days.

189 Human Rights Watch Interview with Ede woman church leader from Dak Lak, April 22, 2001.

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