HANOI, Vietnam, DEC. 24, 2002 (ZENIT.org).- The Vietnamese government has stepped up its campaign against the Montagnard minority to keep them from celebrating Christmas.
The Montagnards, who live in the southern and central highlands of this communist-led country of 81 million, are mostly Christians.
The U.S.-based Montagnard Foundation (http://www.montagnard-foundation.org) said that the communist authorities announced they would enforce fines of about $10 against any Montagnard caught celebrating Christmas. Officials have also threatened the minority with arrest, imprisonment and even the death penalty, the foundation said.
The group also charged that government forces, since Dec. 15, have arrested anyone they suspect of having supported the Montagnard Foundation.
The authorities contend that those arrested belong to the United Front for the Struggle of the Oppressed Races, a group fighting for independence from Vietnam.