Six more Montagnards wanted by Vietnamese police in Dak Lak attacks

The armed assaults on two government facilities in June left 9 people dead.
By RFA Vietnamese
2023.11.30
Six more Montagnards wanted by Vietnamese police in Dak Lak attacks Y Quynh Bdap, co-founder of Montagnards Stand For Justice, in an undated photo.
Y Quynh Bdap

Six Montagnards are wanted on terrorism charges by Vietnamese police for their alleged involvement in deadly attacks nearly six months ago on government facilities in the southern province of Dak Lak, which left nine people dead, state media reported on Thursday.  

The security investigation agency of the Dak Lak provincial police has issued a special warrant for the six, who are charged with terrorism under Article 299 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. 

In the early hours of June 11, two groups of about 40 people armed with guns and knives conducted the attacks in Ea Tieu and Ea Ktur communes of Cu Kuin district, killing four policemen, two commune officials and three villagers. 

Authorities detained nearly 100 ethnic minorities for allegedly participating in terrorist attacks in the areas, home to about 30 indigenous tribes known collectively as Montagnards, who have a long history of conflict with and discrimination at the hands of the Vietnamese majority. They are sometimes referred to as “Dega.” 

So far, Dak Lak provincial police have charged or prosecuted 96 people on various offenses related to the attacks and have expanded their investigations, state media reported. 

Montagnard groups have denied that they were involved in the attacks.

Among the six wanted individuals is Y Quynh Bdap, co-founder of Montagnards Stand for Justice, or MSFJ, an organization that advocates for the religious freedom of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands.

The remaining five are Y Chanh Bya, 40; Ipen Eban, 39; Y Nien Eya, 45 years old – all from Cu Jut district in Dak Nong province; and Y Chik Nie, 55, from Krong Pak district, and Y Mum Mlo, 63, from Krong Buk district in Dak Lak province.

Y Quynh Bdap, who fled to Thailand as a political refugee in 2008 and is still there, said Dak Lak police, who issued a special warrant for his arrest on Aug. 14, are using the attacks to accuse members of the MSFJ of being terrorists. 

However, a wanted list posted on the Ministry of Public Security’s website does not include his name, he said. 

Denial

Y Quynh Bdap denied the accusations of involvement with individuals or organizations that advocate violence to resolve issues of ethnicity, religion, and land in the Central Highlands, as reported by state media over the past months.

“The authorities are using the incident to slander and accuse us of participating in these terrorist activities,” he told Radio Free Asia on Thursday. 

“The Vietnamese government’s accusations are aimed at smearing my reputation and silencing my voice of human rights protection,” Y Quynh Bdap said. 

He and his team at MSFJ have collected information, compiled numerous reports on human rights violations in the Central Highlands, and submitted them to the United Nations and various international rights organizations, he said. 

Y Quynh Bdap also said he did not know the other five wanted Montagnards and that it was irrational for authorities to put six people together and label them terrorists. 

About two months ago, ANTV Television, which operates under the Ministry of Public Security, reported that Y Quynh Bdap and the MSFJ had been working with a U.S.-based Montagnard support group to topple current authorities and establish a so-called “State of Dega” in the Central Highlands. 

In October, Tran Quoc, Vietnam’s deputy minister public security, said mismanagement was among the causes of the attacks on government facilities in Dak Lak province, in the first official acknowledgement that reasons other than “incitement” by hostile forces were to blame for the incident. 

He acknowledged that frustration over Vietnam’s growing wealth gap and poor land management by local officials were partly to blame.

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

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