Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Arrests threatened for aiding Montagnards

Arrests threatened for aiding Montagnards

Authorities are seen in Ratanakkiri’s Lom village
Authorities are seen in Ratanakkiri’s Lom village late last week during property searches for Montagnards. ADHOC

Arrests threatened for aiding Montagnards

Eight ethnic minority Jarai villagers in Ratanakkiri province have been told to sign an agreement pledging not to provide aid to Montagnard asylum seekers or face possible arrest, villagers have said.

The villagers from Kveng village in Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadav district helped to shelter several Montagnards who were hiding in the forest there until they were assured of safe passage to Phnom Penh last month. They are currently being interviewed in the capital as part of their asylum claims.

The police presence in the area has been stepped up following the arrival of five more Montagnard asylum seekers, with police searching the area around another village in the same district.

Yesterday, police armed with pistols and allegedly led by Borkeo district police chief Mao Sun accused villagers in Kveng of harbouring illegal immigrants.

“They accused us of hiding five Vietnamese immigrants. To correct our mistake, they ordered us, along with 48 families, to thumbprint a document promising to not do such things in the future, or else they would arrest us,” Sal Vuth, one of the villagers, said yesterday.

As a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Cambodia is obligated to assess asylum seekers’ claims to refugee status without penalty.

The eight villagers refused to immediately sign the document presented by police yesterday and requested help from local rights group Adhoc.

Chhay Thy, Adhoc’s provincial coordinator, said that the police’s actions amounted to “intimidation and a violation of the individuals’ rights”, adding that Cambodia should do more to meet its obligations under the 1951 treaty.

Police chief Mao Sun could not be reached for comment, but the provincial police chief, Nguon Keun, denied there was a policy to pressure villagers into turning their back on future Montagnard asylum seekers.

“We have no policy to do that,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four