In this episode of the podcast “Vietnam Veteran News” the plight of one of our most loyal and effective allies in the Vietnam War will be featured. In the highlands of Vietnam there existed numerous tribes of “indigenous” peoples. Historically they were looked down upon by the ruling Cochin people of Indochina as backward and they suffered much discrimination at the hands of their more advances neighbors in the lowlands. The French referred to the tribes as Montagnards which translated means mountain people.
The friction that existed between the Montagnards and especially the northern Vietnamese contributed to their willingness to work with the Americans when they came to fight against the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War. When the war ended and the Americans left the country the Montagnards were left high and dry to suffer the ire of their former opponent when the North Vietnamese took over the entire country in 1975. Ever since they have suffered persecution and retribution from a revengeful Vietnam Communist government.
Recently a story appeared in Radio Free Asia titled: Dozens of Montagnards Flee Cambodia For Thailand Amid Fears of Repatriation to Vietnam. The story was reported by Thanh Truc for RFA’s Vietnamese Service, translated by Viet Ha and written in English by Joshua Lipes. It describes what some Montagnards are doing to escape the vengeful treatment they receive from the Communists in Vietnam and Cambodia.
It appears that a group of Montagnards who made their way to Cambodia seeking refugee status are being threatened with repatriation back to Vietnam where they face jail time and torture according to the escapees. Some have moved on to Thailand to avoid being sent back to Vietnam.
This is a sad state of affairs for a former loyal and effective ally in the Vietnam War.
CLICK HERE for more on Denise Coghlan, the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, and what she is doing to help the Montagnard people in Cambodia.