Save The Montagnard People, Inc.

Communist Vietnamese Cultural Leveling

"In 1976 according to political anthropologist Walker Conner, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) Vice Minister of Culture proclaimed:   'It is necessary to eradicate all the outmoded customs … while gradually bringing the new culture to each ethnic minority.  The state has the duty to bring new, progressive culture to these people in order to build a new culture with socialist objectives and Vietnamese national characteristics.' " *

The plight of the American Indian is analogous in outcome.  Cultural Leveling differs however in that seizure of ancestral homelands is merely one aspect in the larger objective to completely extinguish an ethnic minority.

1.  According to the 1999 Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) census, since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 the Vietnamese national population has increased by 230% to 76 million.  In contrast the Montagnard population has remained at the 1975 level of 1,000,000 people.

Cultural Leveling and particularly the harsh birth control measures forced on Montagnard women, is driving up the average age of their population.  Thus their pace of their extinction is accelerating.  Simple arithmetic has it that in twenty years this magnificent culture, the aborigines of southeast Indochina, will have vanished from their ancestral homelands in Vietnam.

 

2.  Following the 1975 communist victory the old Montagnards, keepers of the culture, were forced into Restricted Areas where they are denied medicines and medical care.  They can only farm small "kitchen gardens," barely enough to live on.  Foreigners are not allowed into Restricted Areas and even our ambassador, Pete Peterson, was denied entry.  We know about the Restricted Areas from Montagnard immigrants to the US and American travelers who have gained covert access.

3.  Many of the Montagnard children today are half Vietnamese as a result of compelled mixed  marriages.  Montagnards are the bottom feeders in Vietnamese society.  Educational and occupational opportunities are available only to those who marry ethnic Vietnamese.  As well, Vietnamese males are encouraged to pursue Montagnard girls simply to get them pregnant.  Culturally taboo in the Montagnard culture, out of wedlock pregnancies create family strife and exacerbate economic plight.

4.  The SRV policy of "Fixed Field, Fixed Residence" forbids Swidden agriculture, the Montagnard farming tradition.  There is nothing wrong with Swidden farming as long as there is enough land to go around.  It is a natural evolutionary means of rotating fields.  "Today crop fields in Vietnam are no longer being rotated but have been given over to permanent cultivation by collective farms growing dry rice, maize, bananas, and a variety of plantation crops ill-suited for tropical soils.  Montagnard villages, once widely dispersed throughout the plateau and upland forests, are now much more concentrated along secondary roads.  These villages have been interlaced with new communities of ethnic Vietnamese, predominantly from the North.  The effect of this increased density of population is to make traditional crop rotation impossible." *

5.  In 1975 Montagnard Protestant churches were closed along with schools, orphanages, and medical clinics to include leprosariums run by the Evangelical Church.  Since, religious worship is allowed only in state-approved churches and leprosy, rendered nearly extinct by medical missionaries during the Vietnam War, is once again rampant.  Last year (Y2k) Montagnards in Ban Me Thuot attempted to open several of their old Protestant churches.  Communist security vandalized these churches, arrested the lay preachers and held them until the parishioners raised enough money to have them released.  Montagnard preachers are watched closely and forbidden in home gatherings larger than three people.  "Free" Christian worship and bible study is an underground activity conducted at great risk.

6.  The great forests of the Central Highlands, habitat of elephants, tigers, exotic birds, and Montagnards have been denuded of timber for export revenues and cultivation of Coffee and Tea, cash crops ill-suited for these soils.  The government destruction of the watersheds is the primary reason for the massive flooding in recent years.

7.  All books, bibles, and reading materials written in Montagnard languages were burned after 1975.  The tribal languages can not be taught in schools and many Montagnard children today only speak Vietnamese.

8.  The Vietnamese maintain several villages in the Highlands for US veterans and foreigners who wish to visit a "Montagnard village."  These are show villages established to conceal the poverty and misery of the Montagnard people in Vietnam.

9.  Unless Montagnards publicly renounce Christianity they are denied use of public irrigation systems to water their crops, electricity in villages having same, and access to government medical facilities.  Communist authorities tell them, "You believe in Jesus, let him feed your family."

10.  United Nations Population Control funds are available to overpopulated countries for contraception, abortion, control of STD's, and related public education programs and studies.  Supposedly, the only countries which receive these funds are those in which women freely consent to procedures.  Vietnam is a recipient nation of these UN funds and in 2001 allocated $US17.9 million to stem the birth rate in the northern mountainous provinces, the Central Highlands, central coastal provinces, and poor/isolated areas.

The majority of the people in these areas are ethnic minorities and/or hill tribes.  In the Montagnard areas, authorities require young women to attend endless birth control classes limiting their hours for farming, income producing activities, and child care if already a mother.  A woman can be released from classes if she consents to sterilization.  They are also promised $20 but afterwards few receive it and most end up with severe and painful infections with some dying from same.

Some of the state-run coffee plantations have clinics propagated as an employment benefit.  Women are required to undergo periodic GYN examinations during which the Quinacrine Hydrochloride tablet is surreptitiously inserted in the upper uterus chemically burning the fallopian tubes closed.  Reportedly, this tablet is also inserted in some women immediately following child birth in rural government clinics.

The tablet is produced by the International Fertility Research Program (IFRP), Research Triangle Park, NC.  IFRP was established in 1971 under USAID grant #PD-AAG-271-F1 for $55 million to the University of North Carolina.  Through 1985 USAID provided an additional $110 million to IFRP for a total of $165 million.  Although not approved for use in the US by the Food & Drug Administration, the Quinacrine Hydrochloride tablet is sold commercially overseas to countries like Vietnam which purchase it with UN Population Control funds.

Sterilization of Montagnard women is also accomplished through abdominal surgery.  Reportedly both the Quinacrine Hydrochloride tablet procedure and the abdominal surgery are performed by Vietnamese technicians and not physicians.

11.  The Clinton Administration denials that Cultural Leveling continues are totally false, a deception to make Vietnam look more favorable for US Most Favored Nation Trade status.  Our Vietnam policy is no different from our China policy, based solely on trade and totally void of promoting democratic principles and consideration for our surviving allies, ethnic Vietnamese and minorities alike.

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*The Montagnard World, Montagnard Foundation, Inc., Spartanburg, SC (no date available)