- What is the Montagnard Human Rights Organization and why was it formed?
- What is the Vision and the goals of MHRO?
- Is the Government of Vietnam opposed to Montagnard self-determination? What about Vietnam’s territorial integrity? Why does Vietnam use the term “ethnic minority” rather than “indigenous peoples?”
- Does MHRO only do human rights advocacy?
- What is the difference between the various Montagnard organizations ?
- Does MHRO want to overthrow the Vietnamese government?
- I want to help or make a donation. What should I do?
- If I donate to MHRO, can I get a tax deduction?
- What is the Office of Refugee Resettlement ( ORR) grant that was awarded to MHRO?
- I heard that MHRO works with Immigration. In what way?
- What is MHRO’s position on non-violence?
- Does MHRO cooperate closely with U.S. Veterans?
- What does the term ”Montagnard” mean? What about “Dega” and Degar” We have also seen the term “Anak Cu Chiang.”
- How are Montagnards losing their culture in the Central Highlands of Vietnam?
- What is the future for the Montagnard people?
MHRO is a membership organization which was founded in 1998 by the former leaders of the Montagnard Resistance Forces and independence movement to take peaceful action on ways to improve the human rights and life for the Montagnards in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, and to advocate for Montagnard self-determination in Vietnam. The Montagnard Human Rights Organization promotes the rights and the cultural heritage of the Montagnard people in Vietnam, the U.S., Europe, Canada, and throughout the world, to live in freedom and dignity, sharing one heart and one vision of freedom. MHRO’s mission has expanded to offer comprehensive Immigration Services and Advocacy to all refugees.
Rong Nay was the Assistant Commander of the Montagnard Resistance Force and Independence Movement, also known as FULRO, in the jungles of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, from the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 until 1985. He currently serves as the Executive Director of MHRO. He has provided direction, commitment, and vision in leading the North Carolina Montagnard community since 1986.
The MHRO vision is peace and freedom for the Montagnards , the “Anak CuChiang” peoples of the Central Highlands, to live in their ancestral homeland, self-governed as an independent, sovereign nation, existing side by side in a peaceful, cooperative relationship with Vietnam and other countries of SE Asia and the world.
The MHRO ultimate goal is to obtain support from the United Nations and the international community, the people of the free world, and from the government of Vietnam, to recognize the Montagnard legal right of self-determination, the right to choose self governance according to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Montagnard self-determination and self-governance is the heritage of the Montagnard people. It is the Montagnard birthright to live in peace and freedom on the ancient, ancestral lands of the “Anak Cu Chiang” peoples, the original peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. ( see History Section, historical documents and maps)
The current government of Vietnam is opposed to self-determination for the Montagnard indigenous tribespeoples of the Central Highlands. The government considers the Montagnards “ethnic minorities” and rejects the term “indigenous peoples” despite the fact that the Montagnards are the original peoples, the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands. The government of Vietnam uses this misleading term because it furthers the government’s aim of ethnic cleansing and stealing tribal lands for use by the government and the majority Kinh peoples. This practice has gone on for over a century.
The term “ethnic minority” has the meaning of being connected to a majority, in this case , the Vietnamese or Kinh majority. The Montagnard reject this term. The tribal peoples are ethnically, culturally, and linguistically distinctly different than the Vietnamese peoples; the Vietnamese being of Chinese and Mongolian descent. The Montagnards ancient origens are from two major linguistic groups, the Malay Polynesian and the Mon-Khmer. All tribal groups and sub-groups originate from these lines. It is believed the Mon-Khmer had ancient ties to the land now known as Burma and the Malay Polynesian tribes originally migrated by sea from Polynesia through Indonesia, to the coast of Vietnam and to the Central Highlands.
Within Vietnam’s ancient and proud history, there once was a tradition of honoring the rights of the indigenous tribal peoples, in both the north and the Central Highlands. The Vietnamese dynasties knew the strategic importance of the Central Highlands and the importance of a cooperative relationship with the tribespeople who lived in the high plateau. This land of forests and streams, sacred mountains and rivers was revered by the tribespeople in their sacred relationship with the natural world. The “Anak Cu Chiang” peoples viewed themselves as stewards of the earth who prayed to “Grandfather Sky” and the spirits of the land for blessing. These ancient highlands had always been inhabited by the tribal peoples until the encroachment of French colonizers and Vietnamese settlers. Once colonization began, the exploitation of the indigenous Central Highlanders intensified until today. Three excellent resources are the books, We Have Eaten the Forest by Georges Condominas ( re-published by Kodansha Press) and the two ethno-histories, Sons of the Mountains and Free in the Forest by Gerald C. Hickey.
Vietnam, as it slowly evolves and transforms over time (perhaps decades) to a more democratic government, could consider a leadership role in protecting and promoting indigenous peoples around the globe, including the original peoples of the highlands, the ‘Anak Cu Chiang” known for decades as the Montagnards. Vietnam could choose to respect the vision of Montagnard people living in their own independent, Montagnard/Anak Cu Chiang Country, a sovereign nation, side by side with the sovereign nation of Vietnam. It is a dream that could serve both nations with their respective citizens working and living together peacefully.
Ho Chi Minh promised autonomy and autonomous self-rule to the Montagnards. As other indigenous peoples of the world slowly disappear or are assimilated, Vietnam could take a stand on behalf of its own indigenous peoples, assisting, not opposing the Montagnards. Vietnam,, along with other countries of the world who respect and uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, could work together to ensure a peaceful transition over years as the Montagnards develop their capacity and nation. Vietnam could choose an historic role to create a win-win for itself and its tribal peoples, rather than continuing on the current path of systematic ethnic cleansing and assimilation.
The Montagnard Human Rights Organization has a strong mission and program focus on Family Reunification, Immigration Services, and Refugee Advocacy. MHRO NOW SERVES ALL REFUGEE POPULATIONS WITH IMMIGRATION SERVICES. MHRO received its Board of Immigration (BIA) agency recognition and staff accreditation in 2008.
– MHRO has received two major grants from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) starting in 2003. Program funding in the Ethnic Community Self-Help category was for immigration and family reunification services that are vital to integration and employment. MHRO now serves all refugees. In the first grant, services were also provided to elderly Montagnards, leadership and community empowerment, and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes focusing on Montagnard seniors and preparation for the U.S. citizenship exam. MHRO’s second grant from ORR was from 2007 through 2010. (see Family Reunification and Immigration accomplishments.) In 2010, MHRO served over 600 refugees with immigration applications ranging from permanent residence petitions, U.S. citizenship, and family reunification.
– Advocacy and public education of government officials is another mission of MHRO. MHRO cooperates closely with the U.S. State Dept., Members of Congress, U.S. Consulates and Embassies, and the U.S. Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Homeland Security (USCIS/DHS) in developing compassionate and fair policies that impact refugee screening, refugee protection, resettlement, and the processing of refugee immigration applications. These activities promote family unity and the successful integration and employment for all refugees, including Montagnards.
– MHRO also advocates with the United Nations and the international community to stop human rights violations in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and to promote policies with the government of Vietnam that will improve the living conditions, human rights and freedom for the Montagnard indigenous peoples.
MHRO focuses on Montagnard human rights in Vietnam, refugee protection, family reunification, policy advocacy and a full range of Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited immigration services for all refugees. MFI’s primary mission is advocating for Montagnard human rights in Vietnam. MDA was founded as a social services Montagnard organization with a primary focus on providing social services to the NC Montagnard community.
The Montagnard Human Rights Organization (MHRO) uses only peaceful means and non-violence in the spirit of international cooperation and the rule of law as it carries out a long-term commitment until the Vietnamese government recognizes the right Montagnard self-determination. MHRO has historically cooperated with the U.S. government and members of the U.S. Congress in seeking solutions to Montagnard issues of refugee protection, family reunification, and human rights. MHRO also has established a presence at the United Nations and is committed to working with the international community and other indigenous peoples global networks.
The Montagnard Human Rights Organization (MHRO) is a non-profit corporation organized in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, in 1998, under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. MHRO is a public charity Status, under Section 509 (a) (1) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax deductible as charitable contributions (the MHRO Federal Tax ID No. 56-2111100).
No. MHRO has no intention to de-stabilize, disrupt, harm, or cause fear within the country of Vietnam. MHRO is a non-profit organization promoting human rights, family unity, immigration, and refugee protection. Montagnard people respect the territorial integrity of Vietnam, and the Montagnard people want Vietnam to honor the Montagnard peoples and their right to the Montagnard homeland and territory of the Central Highlands, the ancient and ancestral land that belongs to the Anak Cu Chiang/Montagnard peoples.
MHRO is against the Vietnamese government policies imposed on the Montagnard people that steal Montagnard land and force policies of assimilation. Montagnards want their right to live as human beings and to worship their Christian faith freely without pressure to join government churches. Montagnards want humanitarian aid and development assistance like the other regions in Vietnam and to have the same opportunities in education and development as Vietnamese/Kinh people. The Montagnard people want to freely emigrate and for overseas relatives to enjoy family visits without harassment from police. They want to get their family members out of Vietnam without being subjected to incessant bribes or persecution. The Montagnard people want the Vietnamese government to stop considering Montagnards as an enemy of war because the Vietnam War is over. The Montagnards want the Vietnamese government to stop its policies of racism and discrimination that is pervasive in nearly all aspects of Vietnamese society.
The Montagnard Human Rights Organization will gratefully accept your donations! Our organization needs financial assistance in order to serve the Montagnard people. Please feel free to send us a check in the mail at any time. We also have many volunteer opportunities in the area of: transportation, job referral and placement for new refugee arrivals, immigration assistance, translation, friendly visits to our Montagnard elders, cultural preservation projects including music and cultural documentation, English language tutoring, human rights advocacy, and administrative help.
Yes, the Montagnard Human Rights Organization (MHRO) is a non-profit corporation organized in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, in 1998, under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. MHRO is a public charity Status, under Section 509 (a) (1) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax deductible as charitable contributions (the MHRO Federal Tax ID No. 56-2111100
We will provide a written receipt if requested. Donations may be sent by mail in the form of check or money order to the following address:
The Montagnard Human Rights Organization
1720 Hillsborough St. Suite LL Two Raleigh, NC 27605
Tel: (919) 828-8185 Fax: (919) 828-8230.
MHRO was honored to receive a three-year grant award from ORR on September 30, 2003 to September 30, 2006, with the purpose to provide services to the NC Montagnard community in the areas: Immigration and Family Reunification, Elderly Services, Civic Education, Community Organization, and ESL classes. MHRO received another major grant in 2007 through 2010 from ORR and now serves all refugee populations.
(See web site section on Immigration Services) MHRO has taken a leadership role in providing immigration services for all refugees.
MHRO is committed to non-violence and peaceful action to achieve equality and human rights for the Montagnard people living in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. MHRO’s vision is to advocate for the Montagnard people to develop their rightful potential as human beings and to live in a free nation on their ancestral lands, as other nations and peoples of the world.
The Montagnard Human Rights Organization has been blessed to have several U.S. veterans as sponsors and advisors of MHRO. We feel that the Americans who served with our people in Vietnam during the war years have a special sympathy, understanding, and commitment to the aspirations and survival of our people, in Vietnam and within the U.S.
“Montagnards” means (mountaineers), or mountain/highlander people, a name given to us by the French during the 19th century. Prior to 1800 for centuries, the Montagnard people of the Central Highlands remained isolated in their mountains, separate and apart from the lowland culture. “Dega” is a Rhade (Ede) dialect word with various interpretations as: “the first” “the original” and the meaning derives from Rhade legend. “Jarai robai” is from the Jarai tribal legend. (It’s important to note that Ede/Rhade is sometimes used interchangeably to indicate both tribe and the language attributed to the tribe).
“Degar” is a new term created by the Montagnard Foundation (MFI) and it holds no distinctive meaning for other tribes. The common and correct meaning for all Montagnard tribes is “Anak Cu Chiang” which means, “Children of the Mountains” or “Mountain People.” The use of a single term to apply to all tribal groups has historical, cultural and tribal sensitivity. For this reason, “Anak Cu Chiang” is a term which reflects respect and recognition of all the five major tribal groups: Rhade, Jarai, Mnong, Koho and Bahnar.
The Montagnards of the Central Highlands have lost more than any other group in Vietnam: the right to live, the right to own their ancestral lands, the right to have churches, the right to attend local schools, and the right to operate traditional courts. They are now in danger of losing their entire culture. Traditional ways of life have been systematically abolished. Tribal language names of provinces, villages, rivers and sacred mountains have been transformed from Montagnard languages to subtle changes in spelling so that the names become “Vietnamized.” Government policies reflect a long term plan of assimilation and ethnic cleansing.
There is tremendous social pressure to “be like Vietnamese (Kinh) people.” This societal pressure and the assimilation policies have caused irreparable psychological damage to the tribal peoples. The impact is far-reaching. It has caused deep-rooted emotional and psychological trauma that has left scars on an entire population of people, not only scars that are in the hearts, minds and bodies of the Montagnards in Vietnam, but those who sought sanctuary as refugees in other countries such as the U.S.
After the Vietnam War ended, peace did not return to the Montagnard people. They received only retribution, persecution and contempt. Because they were indigenous people, landowners and Christians, they were punished publicly and discriminated against. They have suffered terribly.
For over 156 years the Montagnard indigenous peoples in the Central Highlands of Vietnam have cherished a dream; Montagnard freedom, their own self-determination in their own land, a place of peace, freedom and opportunity. Several hundred thousand Montagnards have sacrificed and shared that dream, and have prayed that someday, somehow, in God’s good time, the dream will be realized, that there will be a transformed country where Montagnards and Vietnamese (Kinh people) live as neighbors in their own nations of peace and mutual benefit. MHRO will continue to seek solutions with the United Nations, the international community, Vietnam, and the U.S. as it continues its mission on behalf of the Montagnards, the Anak Cu Chiang, the original peoples of the Central Highlands who live in their ancestral homeland.