Local News

Montagnard refugee reunites with family at RDU

Posted January 29, 2013

— A Montagnard refugee who endured years of torture and imprisonment before fleeing Vietnam was set to reunite with his family Tuesday night at Raleigh-Durham International Airport after a long journey to freedom. 

Y'Soai Eban, who began working for Montagnard rights after his father was killed in a Vietnamese prison in 1983, hasn't seen his wife and two children since he, too, was imprisoned, tortured and eventually fled  to the jungles of Cambodia several years ago. Eban was turned away from a United Nations refugee camp in Phnom Penh, Cambobia, then walked to Bangkok, Thailand, where he was imprisoned again for not having papers.

A group of Triangle activists helped raise money to set him free, and he eventually made his way to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he worked in an orphanage for about two years while the necessary paperwork was filed to bring him to North Carolina in April 2012.

The activists then began petitioning to get Eban's family out of Vietnam. Their plane was set to touch down at 10:10 p.m.

During the Vietnam War, the Montagnard people from the nation's central highlands fought the Viet Cong alongside U.S. Army Special Forces. Once the war was over, many of them were persecuted for their American alliance.

Eban's father was among them. He was an interpreter with the Green Berets for nine years before being captured by communist forces in 1975, imprisoned and tortured repeatedly for eight years. 

About 90 percent of Montagnard refugees have settled in North Carolina, specifically in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte.

11 Comments

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  • floydthebarber Jan 31, 10:49 a.m.

    I was privileged to take part in a screening of Meredith College alumnae Camden Watt's film Abandoned Allies last night and I must say both the story and panel afterwards were very moving. The Montagnards are intelligent people who fought bravely alongside us. They endure to this day mistreatment in the Vietnam region and difficulty with immigration.

    I hope our congress and our incoming Secretary of State John Kerry can foster better treatment and immigration policy of persecuted Montagnards, and really all peoples who struggle for a better life in their own country or America. It shouldn't take decades and mountains of paperwork to join the rest of your family in America. Especially if you learn english and contribute positively to the community.

    http://www.abandonedallies.com/

  • BitCoin Trader Jan 30, 11:07 a.m.

    The Montagnards are very good people and very brave. They came to our country the right way...LEGALLY and work very hard for their citizenship.

    Not totally true. Many are still here illegally. Have you seen the history test to become a citizen?

  • BitCoin Trader Jan 30, 11:02 a.m.

    Funny you guys/girls know so much but I actually see these people on a daily basis and no they still struggle with "racism" in this country. Get over yourself. You have no clue.

  • BitCoin Trader Jan 30, 11:00 a.m.

    why would anyone call him specifically illegal. It says in the article the group working to get him here got papers for him. Many "right-wingers" are military and should know that the montagnards were allies of the U.S during the Vietnam war. Let go of your bigotry of those with different political views than your own. It is about a man reuniting with his family.

    endlessnameless

    January 30, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    Report abuse

    I KNOW the man. Its my GF uncle. LOL

  • BitCoin Trader Jan 30, 10:59 a.m.

    Vinyl... that was not only uncalled for but not true. I have only met 1 Mantagnard thus far and he is a very dear friend. I lean as far to the right as I can w/o falling over. LOL

    Ive been with my Martagnard GF for over 8 years. I see the looks and comments they get.

  • V-Vet 72-75 Jan 30, 10:46 a.m.

    The Montagnards are indeed very good people. I have no problem helping them. They helped me and many other vets during the Vietnam War.

  • Dollars-and-Sense Jan 30, 10:26 a.m.

    The Montagnards are great people. Although most may receive government assistance when they first get here, the ones I know strive to support themselves, buy houses and assist their communities. They're hard workers. They deserve our thanks for helping the US forces in Vietnam 40 years ago. Many suffered greatly after the war was over. Many were (& still are) persecuted for their faith in Christianity. They fit well in the melting pot.

  • larterl Jan 30, 10:00 a.m.

    This is exactly the kind of people we need to help, historical allies of the US who helped our troops and deserve our assistance in return. What horrors this man has had to experience, and I'm delighted for him and his family that they will be reunited shortly! We are very lucky we don't have to experience such difficulties as this man has had to overcome. Good Bless the Eban family and those who worked hard to make this reunion happen!

  • endlessnameless Jan 30, 9:28 a.m.

    why would anyone call him specifically illegal. It says in the article the group working to get him here got papers for him. Many "right-wingers" are military and should know that the montagnards were allies of the U.S during the Vietnam war. Let go of your bigotry of those with different political views than your own. It is about a man reuniting with his family.

  • Whatdaheck Jan 30, 9:21 a.m.

    Vinyl... that was not only uncalled for but not true. I have only met 1 Mantagnard thus far and he is a very dear friend. I lean as far to the right as I can w/o falling over. LOL

    There is a strong "spirit" of division in our country today that seeks any way possible to divide us and separate us from one another. What we need is not diversity;we've always had that. What we so desperately need is unity.

    I gather from your comments that if we worked together we would differ in opinion on certain things but that we would have enough in common on key principles that our mutual respect would enable us to be friends, *if* we could look pat those differences. THAT is unity.

    Most Montagnards are remarkable individuals. They have endured and overcome more than most Americans today can even conceive of. To listen to my friend tell of the adversity he has overcome and to see the light in his eyes when he speaks of his dreams is absolutely inspiring!

    I am very happy for the Eban family.

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