Vietnam Sentences Nearly 100 Individuals for Police Station Attacks

Vietnam Sentences Nearly 100 Individuals for Police Station Attacks

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Vietnam has handed down prison sentences to almost 100 individuals on terrorism charges related to shooting attacks last year on police headquarters in the country’s Central Highlands, resulting in nine fatalities, as reported by state media on Saturday.

The assailants, riding motorbikes, carried out the attacks on police and political offices in Dak Lak province in June of the previous year, marking a rare occurrence of violent unrest in the communist-ruled nation. Following a five-day trial held at the prison where the accused were detained, 10 defendants received life sentences, while 90 others were given varying sentences ranging from nine months to 20 years, according to VNExpress.

Among the charges, 98 individuals were accused of terrorism, one of hiding criminals, and one of facilitating illegal immigration. All the defendants belong to ethnic minority groups native to the Central Highlands, and the court alleged that they sought to “overthrow the state.” The age range of the accused spans from 18 to 56.

Six defendants remain at large and were tried in absentia, with international arrest warrants issued for their apprehension.

The verdict, as quoted by VNExpress, revealed that the defendants had joined the Dega Soldiers group in early June 2023, engaging in paramilitary training in the jungle, including activities such as martial arts and bomb-making. The court characterized the case as “especially serious,” with the terrorists aiming to overthrow the state and establish the so-called Dega state.

The court attributed the majority of the defendants’ actions to a “lack of understanding,” placing blame on US-based reactionary groups that attempted to lure, threaten, or coerce them into carrying out the attacks.

The Dega represents one of the ethnic minority groups from Vietnam’s Central Highlands, an area historically marked by discontent over issues like land rights. Communist authorities refer to followers of Protestantism in the region as “Dega Protestants,” a group advocating autonomy from the state and linked to Montagnard political exiles in the United States.

The Montagnards, comprising various tribes in the area, aligned with the US-backed south during Vietnam’s prolonged war. Some are pushing for increased autonomy, while others abroad advocate for independence in the region.

Following the deadly incident, law enforcement reported the seizure of 23 guns and rifles, two grenades, over 1,000 bullets, and other explosive devices. Firearms ownership is prohibited for individuals in Vietnam, making gun violence exceedingly rare.

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