Over the last several days, a number of foreign organizations like the Montagnard Foundation Inc., the Transnational Radical Party have noisily exaggerated the so-called, “demonstrations of the ethnic minority people in the Central Highlands against religious repression and land confiscation”. They spread rumors that “the Vietnamese government suppressed demonstrators”. They even blatantly fabricated that 400 people were killed and their bodies thrown into rivers, and “demonstrators were beaten to death in Phan Chu Trinh street and at the outskirts of Buon Ma Thuot, etc".

We vehemently reject this distortion. It must be said that there is nothing new about the sinister schemes by some anti-Vietnam groups, which spread provocative rumors that contain nothing but fabrication, exaggeration, and distortion aimed at sowing division among ethnic minority groups in Vietnam, tarnishing Vietnam’s reputation and image, hindering the development of friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and other countries and international organizations.

The truth is that on 10th and 11th April 2004, extreme elements in a number of localities in Dak Lak and Gia Lai provinces, with instigation and instructions from outside of Vietnam, especially from the Montagnard Foundation led by Ksor Kok, induced, deceived and forced local people to participate in demonstrations. On 9th April 2004, the US-based Montagnard Foundation released an announcement that there would be demonstrations in the Central Highland on 10th April with the participation of about 150,000 people. Thus, the Montagnard Foundation openly admitted its involvement in the demonstrations in the Central Highlands. The organizers of the demonstration spread rumors that United Nations airplanes were available to transport the local people abroad. In various areas, they used money to encourage the people to demonstrate and threatened to blacklist and punish those who would not follow them.

The extremists committed acts of disrupting public order. They used dangerous weapons to attack and inflict serious injuries on law enforcers. They also destroyed public works and property in some communes. More seriously, they attacked some commune headquarters, captured and held hostage local officials and hung up banners calling for the establishment of a “Dega state”. It is clear that these acts were aimed at disrupting public order, sowing division among ethnic groups in the Central Highlands, weakening national unity and undermining Vietnam’s territorial integrity. Such acts seriously violated the laws and thus are intolerable in any country.

In face of such violent acts of the extremists, law protection forces and local people had to take defensive acts, which inevitably led to clashes. A number of people were injured and hospitalized.

The local authorities have taken measures to stabilize the situation. Local authorities explained the issue to the people who had been misled to take part in the demonstrations and provided them with means of transportation back to their home villages. The instigators, ring leaders and those who attacked on-duty officials are now in custody. At present, life in the above mentioned areas has returned to normal. Foreign tourists are continuing to visit the Central Highlands.

Land dispute was mentioned by some countries as a cause of demonstrations. Indeed, there have been sporadic land disputes as a result of the economic restructuring in the region. Recently, the National Assembly amended the Land Law, on the basis of which local governments are intensively addressing the issue to guarantee adequate land for farming and housing, especially in the Central Highlands.

The consistent policy of the State of Vietnam is to strengthen the great national unity and improve material and spiritual life for people from all walks of life. The Prime Minister approved and instructed the realization of the Socio-economic Development Program for extremely difficult communes, ethnic minorities in mountainous, border and remote areas with a view to improving living standards of ethnic minority people in these areas, helping them rid poverty, backwardness and keep in pace with the nationwide development. The Program has recorded fruitful outcomes over the past years. Basic infrastructure in mountainous areas has been built and improved significantly, which helps develop a multi-sector economy. The economic structure in many areas has been transformed into market-based one.

Vietnam's law ensures the free right to adhere to a religion and belief or not to adhere to a religion and belief of all citizens. This right is expressly stated in the Constitution and respected in reality. There is no "repression of Protestants" whatsoever. On the contrary, Protestants in the Central Highland enjoy favorable conditions for religious practices. There are 25 new Protestant Chapters in the Central Highland with the latest one, Pay Ro Ngol A Ma Ron Protestant Chapter, inaugurated on 13th April 2004 in A Ma Ron commune, Ia Pa district, Gia Lai province.