Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Krom continue lobby of govt for citizenship, aid

Khmer Krom continue lobby of govt for citizenship, aid

Khmer Krom continue lobby of govt for citizenship, aid

091231_05
Choav Heng, 56, examines documents from the Vietnamese government regarding his arrest warrant and the resulting violence against his family.

We need safety. i’m afraid the government has a secret plan to deport us.

Agroup of 24 ethnic Khmer Krom deported from Thailand earlier this month has resolved to continue seeking government assistance despite being denied refugee status by the UN refugee agency and amid fears that the government may seek to deport them to Vietnam, a rights group advocating on their behalf said Wednesday.

The group, which has said it fled to Thailand because of persecution and religious repression in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region, was deported to Cambodia on December 5. They arrived Monday at the offices of the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees seeking refugee status and assistance with food and housing.

A UNHCR spokesman confirmed Wednesday that they were unable to help because of a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 17 that made issues related to asylum seekers the sole responsibility of the government.

Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organisation, said the group will continue to write letters to the government and commune chiefs in a bid to garner a response.

“The group now knows the UNHCR’s position,” he said. “They will wait to see if the response letter is negative or positive. If it is positive, they can live [here]. If it is negative, they can take the letter back to the UNHCR and say, ‘Look, we have nowhere to stay.’”

Ang Chanrith added that the NGOs currently providing shelter for the group could not continue to do so indefinitely, but could only do so “for another one to two months”.

Thach Soong, 49, a Khmer Krom representative for the group, said Wednesday that the group still fears being sent back to Vietnam.

“We need safety. I am afraid the government has a secret plan to deport us.”

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Wednesday that no such plan exists.

“They have enough rights,” he said, adding that as ethnic Khmer Krom, they possess the same general rights as anyone of Khmer ethnicity.

“The government cannot find land and shelter for them because many other citizens do not have land or shelter either. The asylum seekers must realise that the right for asylum is no longer under the authority of the UNHCR,” Khieu Sopheak said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all