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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - After arrests, Khmer Krom activist waits on asylum bid

After arrests, Khmer Krom activist waits on asylum bid

BUDDHIST monk Tim Sakhorn met with officials from the Bangkok office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday, following roundups of Khmer Krom refugees by Thai authorities last week.

Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Khmer Krom Human Rights Association, said that due to the UNHCR's special protection protocols, tightened after the arrests of 61 Khmer Krom in Bangkok last Saturday, it was not possible to reach Tim Sakhorn for comment Thursday.

But he said the Khmer Krom activist, who fled from Cambodia in April, expects his application for political asylum in the US to be finalised on Saturday.

Ang Chanrith added he was working with Thai authorities to prevent the deportation of the arrested Khmer Krom, who had been either recognised as refugees by UNHCR were under consideration or otherwise receiving support from the office.

"We have requested the Thai authorities not to send the Khmer Krom back to either Cambodia or Vietnam.... We are working with [the Thai government] to make sure these ethnic Khmer are safe while waiting for their asylum to be processed," he said.

"With the protection of the UNHCR and the Thai authorities, they wouldn't face the threat of deportation, even if they are arrested."

A report issued by Human Rights Watch in January 2009 documented human rights abuses and the "severe and often shrouded" methods used to stifle dissent amongst the ethnic Khmer minority in southern Vietnam.

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