Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government must look to the rights of refugees



Government must look to the rights of refugees

Government must look to the rights of refugees

Dear Editor,

In the shadow of World Refugee Day (June 20), I would like to take the opportunity to remember the 20 ethnic Uighurs forcibly returned to China by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) in December 2009, despite Cambodia’s signature to the 1951 Convention on Refugees.

There is no information on the whereabouts of the 20 returned individuals who had come to Cambodia seeking refuge following an outbreak of ethnic riots in July 2009. The group had described clearly to the Cambodian authorities the persecution they were escaping in China, and that they feared for the safety of their families, yet they were still repatriated in contravention of the Convention on Refugees. Neither the United Nations nor their families have any record of where the group ended up. As reported by Human Rights Watch in January 2010, there has been no notification of legal charges against the group and no guarantees given by the Chinese government that the group are safe from persecution.

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights is following the plight of the ethnic Rohingya (another predominantly Muslim minority), fleeing persecution from the Myanmar government. As reported in The Phnom Penh Post on June 21, the group have been in Cambodia since January and have been given no indication by the RGC of their refugee status or right to asylum; they now face food shortages. I strongly urge the RGC to adhere to their obligations under the Convention on Refugees, in ensuring that the group is given access to public assistance, food and healthcare.

With the passing of World Refugee Day, it is important to remind the RGC that we have not forgotten the Uighurs. As a former refugee myself, having spent 4 years in a Thai refugee camp, I – like the countless other Cambodians who have sought refuge in foreign countries in recent decades – understand the plight of these people and would like to take this opportunity to remember all refugees and all those who have worked hard to help them. Moreover, I strongly urge the RGC to ensure that the Rohingyas are treated with the dignity and respect that was denied to the Uighurs.

Ou Virak, President
Cambodian Centre for Human Rights

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • First Khmer woman to pass out of West Point

    The life of a soldier certainly isn’t for everyone. The training is gruelling, the hours long and there’s no room for excuses. On top of that, soldiers must be ready to respond to sudden threats at a moment’s notice. Just ask Sithyka

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last