February 2, 2016 - Issue: Vol. 162, No. 19 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 2nd Session
MONTAGNARDS OF VIETNAM; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 19
(Senate - February 02, 2016)
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[Page S485] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] MONTAGNARDS OF VIETNAM Mr. BURR. Mr. President, I want to take a moment today to recognize the Montagnard community in my State of North Carolina and in other places across the Nation. I am proud to say that North Carolina is home to the largest population of Montagnards in the Unites States and home to the largest population of Montagnards outside of Vietnam. Many Americans may not know about the history behind the United States's special relationship with the Montagnards, which is a history that goes back to the days of the Vietnam war. The Montagnards are an indigenous tribespeople of the central highlands of Vietnam, and during the Vietnam war, it was the Montagnards who were trained by the CIA and Special Operations Forces to fight alongside our troops against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. At their own great risk, the Montagnards provided critical intelligence support to our troops on the ground, no doubt saving countless American lives. After the war, the United States took in hundreds of Montagnards into our country as refugees because of the severe persecution they faced from the Vietnamese Government for that very reason. While this indeed is a long overdue recognition, I will be submitting later this week a Senate resolution recognizing their service and sacrifice. However, I believe our recognition of the Montagnards should not stop at what took place decades ago because even today, in 2016, the government of Vietnam continues to discriminate against them for the loyalty and assistance they provided to the United States some 40 years ago. The government of Vietnam continues to persist in its oppression of the Montagnards' basic human rights: the freedom to practice their Christian faith freely without fear of persecution and the right to education, land ownership, and a decent standard of living. This kind of persecution is well documented in the latest human rights and religious freedom reports published by the State Department and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The United States of America has an obligation to stand up for the thousands of suffering Montagnards in Vietnam--some of whom were once our comrades-in-arms. I have heard from many Vietnam war veterans in my State who can tell you how much their military assistance and friendship had meant to them. We should not look the other way; we must continue pressing the Vietnamese Government to respect their fundamental human rights. With this Senate resolution, we send a loud and clear message to the Montagnard people: you are not forgotten. The United States can do better--we must do better--to support this marginalized tribespeople in Vietnam with whom we share a unique and historic bond. I would ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution. Thank you. ____________________