Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Vietnamese Catholic tortured to death

A Vietnamese Catholic from a Montagnard village has died in prison after being arrested and tortured by police, the Montagnard Foundation International has alleged.

Rahlan Hen from Ploi Beng village in Giala Province died last month while serving a six year jail term, "for refusing to join the church of (a local official) Siu Kim", the Foundation says.

"Many Degar Montagnard Christians disagree with the practices of this church and feel that Siu Kim is actually teaching people to worship the government and not God," MFI explained. "This is why Rahlan Hen refused to join. Because of this, the government decided to arrest him in June 2006.

"The Vietnamese government sent security police along with riot police to his house and arrested him. They handcuffed him and began to beat and kick him severely," said MFI. "They dragged him from his house, stomping on him with their heavy military boots until he lost consciousness and then they threw his body in their jeep and took him to the district of Ia Grai prison," the Foundation says.

"At this prison facility, the security police repeatedly beat and tortured him. They kicked, punched, stomped on and shocked him with electric rods." He was reportedly transferred to several other prison facilities.

Before he died, his wife visited him at the Phu Yen Province prison, and saw that "one of his legs was paralysed and that he could barely walk," MFI told BosNewsLife." She was overcome with sorrow, but could do nothing to help him. All she could offer him was her tears."

Elsewhere in the Central Highlands, Degar-Montagnard Christians have also been targeted by security forces in recent months, including in Ploi Kuk Tu, in Gialai Province, where 44 year old Dinh Plok lost his farm and belongings for "refusing to sign a document renouncing his Christian faith," MFI said.