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Logo of IRFBA: International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance

As Chair of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, I express my grave concern at the imprisonment of two Montagnard Christians in Vietnam. Pastor Y Yich is being held at Mang Yang Prison, on charges of “undermining national unity” and “dangerous recidivism”, while Y Pum Bya is imprisoned at Gia Trung Prison on charges of “sabotaging implementation of solidarity policies” I callfor their immediate release.

I firstly note and condemn the conviction and imprisonment of Pastor Y Yich based on his leadership of an independent house church in Gia Lai Province. Pastor Yich has been imprisoned at Mang Yang Prison since 2013, based on alleged violations of Articles 87 and 49 of Vietnam’s 1999 Penal Code.

I also note and condemn the conviction and imprisonment of Y Pum Bya based on his religious activities at a Montagnard independent house church in Gia Lai Province. Y Pum Bya has been imprisoned at Gia Trung Prison since 2019 based on an alleged violation of Article 116 of Vietnam’s 2015 Criminal Code.

The charges against both men were only imposed because of their religious activity. Their imprisonment is also in flagrant violation of international law, including Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Pastor Yich was previously imprisoned on similar charges from 2006-2011 and Y Pum Bya for eight years beginning in 2002.

Both prior imprisonments were likewise in violation of international law. The continuing imprisonment of both men is evidence of a sustained campaign to silence them for their religious activity and should be viewed against the background of sustained persecution against Montagnard Protestant communities.
I also note and condemn the treatment of both men while in prison, along with the poor conditions in which they have been held. There are credible allegations that both men have faced torture and abuse while in prison that have led to the deterioration of their health.

There are also credible allegations that Pastor Yich has been repeatedly denied medical treatments. There are allegations that Y Pum Bya was tortured during police interrogations and forced to sign a pledge renouncing his faith. I also note and condemn the threats and harassment that his family has come under since 2018, which caused them to flee the country.
I strongly urge the Government of Vietnam to release both men immediately, to ensure their proper treatment, to cease its ongoing harassment of them, and to bring its laws and regulations regarding religion or belief into line with international standards.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future