Barnabas Fund, 26 March 2020
A Vietnamese Christian, imprisoned for advocating religious freedom for his Christian Montagnard community, was released in late February, in poor health, after 16 years in prison.
Y Ngun Khul endured beatings from prison guards, leaving him physically scarred, and was repeatedly kicked in the stomach. “Now I can eat only a bowl of rice per day because I have stomach problems that make it hard for me to breathe.” he explained.
During his absence, Y Ngun’s family lost their home and land. They were able to visit him only four times in 16 years, as their Dak Lok home was more than 600 miles away from Nghe An, where Y Ngun was imprisoned.
Ngun was sentenced to 18-years in prison on 20 April 2004 after highlighting the government’s discrimination against and targeting of his community.
Many Montagnard Christians have fled into neighbouring Cambodia and Thailand to escape government-sanctioned persecution. More than 350 Montagnard Christians have been imprisoned by the government since 2001. Local authorities have attempted to coerce these Vietnamese Christians to recant their faith. 10,000 Montagnards remain stateless because authorities refuse to issue ID cards, household registration or birth certificates, often because they refuse to renounce Christ.