Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Krom in asylum talks

Khmer Krom in asylum talks

Khmer Krom in asylum talks

090622_03.jpg
090622_03.jpg

62 refugees arrested by Thai police on June 12 say they are holding discussions with UN officials and Thai authorities in order to avoid deportation

.

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

Khmer Krom monks at a ceremony on June 4, marking 60 years since the loss of Cambodia's southern territories to Vietnam. 

KHMER Krom detainees languishing in a Thai detention centre since their arrest last week say they have held meetings with officials from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Thai immigration officials in an attempt to avoid being deported back to Cambodia.

On June 12, Thai authorities arrested 62 Khmer Krom who claim they were seeking political asylum after fleeing persecution in southern Vietnam.

"At the moment, UNHCR is interviewing Khmer Krom people who are detained at the Thai immigration centre," said Soeun Savang, 50, one of the detainees captured in the June 12 sweeps.

Originally from Vietnam's Ca Mau province, Soeun Savang took refuge in Takeo before fleeing to Thailand in March 2007, after being accused of fabricating legal documents in an attempt to form a Khmer Krom group in the province.

"I have already received refugee status from UNHCR, and I am looking for a third country that will grant me political asylum. But the Thai authorities don't recognise the UNHCR letter - they still arrested and detained us."

Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Khmer Krom Human Rights Association, said he would travel to Thailand in July to speak with Thai authorities and UNHCR officials about the detainees.

"We will request that the Thai authorities do not deport these people to Cambodia or Vietnam," he said Sunday.

"If they do, these people will not feel safe. They fled from Kampuchea Krom because of political pressure and human rights violations ... by the Vietnamese authorities."

Buddhist monk Tim Sakhorn, who fled to Thailand in April after being briefly released from his Vietnamese house arrest, said he was still awaiting the result of his own refugee application amid the crackdown by Thai immigration officials.

"After a mass arrest of Khmer Kampuchea Krom by Thai police, I am concerned about my security even though I have a grant from UNHCR to stay in Thailand. I am living under Thai law," he told the Post.

Kitty McKinsey, public information officer for UNHCR Asia, could not comment in detail, except to say that the Bangkok office was "closely following up this issue with the Thai government".

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen’s China visit ‘a good opportunity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Beijing on Sunday to discuss economic and trade issues presents a good opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen Chinese ties and counter punitive measures by the West, an analyst says. The prime minister’s four-day official visit to

  • Former chief bodyguard receives royal pardon

    The former chief bodyguard of late Senate president Chea Sim has received a royal pardon nearly eight years after he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars on several charges, according to a royal decree dated November 12, last year, and obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

  • Close to the edge: Hair raising pictures from Kulen Mountain

    A new hair raising attraction on Kulen Mountain has finally opened to the public, with people flocking to the protruding cliff edge overlooking green mountainous forests to take photographs. The giant overhanging rock is situated in an area known as Mahendraparvata – an ancient city of

  • US warned not to interfere despite successful meeting

    A senior Ministry of National Defence official said the Tuesday meeting between the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia Joseph H Felter and General Neang Phat had helped strengthen relations between the two countries’ militaries. However, a senior Cambodian People’