Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Montagnards hiding; ‘no plan’ for UN trip

Montagnards hiding; ‘no plan’ for UN trip

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Montagnards hiding; ‘no plan’ for UN trip

As authorities reportedly continued to search yesterday for a second group of Montagnards hiding in Ratanakkiri province, speculation grew that more would arrive in the coming weeks.

Sev Lyn, chief of Pak Nhai commune’s Lom village, said police were searching the area for 18 Jarai Montagnards – indigenous people from Vietnam’s Central Highlands – and were under orders from Vietnam to deport the group.

A villager who asked to remain anonymous said five of the Montagnards who entered the Kingdom on Saturday had been mistreated in Vietnam over their Christian beliefs.

“They wanted to build a church . . . but the authorities did not agree. They were arrested, detained and threatened,” he said.

However, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it had been unable to “verify any of the reports and has no immediate plan to travel to the reported area”.

“If there are additional individuals seeking to make asylum claims in Cambodia, we hope they will be allowed to do so,” said UNHCR regional press officer Vivian Tan.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was in touch with authorities in Ratannakkiri yesterday, “trying to establish the facts and . . . determine what future steps to take”.

Authorities said further action would be unnecessary.

Ming Sineath, information officer at Ratanakkiri Provincial Hall, said there were “no Montagnards” in the province, while Chuob Vananarak, O’Yadav distirct police chief, said door-to-door searches reported in Lom village were just an effort to “collect data on ethnic villagers”.

Reports of Montagnards in the province came just days after a group of 13 others, who spent more than seven weeks in hiding, were allowed safe passage to Phnom Penh to process asylum claims.

Sourn Butmao, acting director of the Minority Rights Organization, said he expects that “more Montagnards will come in [the] following weeks”.

Analyst Ou Virak – formerly of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights – also predicted that more Montagnards will arrive, but said he “would not expect a huge influx”.

“Vietnam will do more to . . . prevent people from leaving,” he said, explaining that an exodus would be a “PR nightmare”.

Asked whether it would be hard for Cambodia to deport Montagnards just days after others were allowed to file claims, Virak said: “If it’s beginning to be a sign of a potential influx . . . they will do it in a heartbeat”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Website advises travellers to stay clear of Angkor Wat

    An Australian website has advised travellers to avoid Angkor Wat during their trip to Southeast Asia because the ancient temple is showing signs of rapid erosion and faced water management issues. In a recent article entitled Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Passenger taxi boat ridership sinks despite free services

    Passenger taxi boat traffic has dropped by about five per cent compared to the same period last year, despite the government providing free service for garment workers until next year, Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said on Monday. In 2018, the Phnom

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • Shipments of mango to South Korea poised to begin this week

    Exports of Cambodian mangoes to South Korea will begin this week after Korean authorities gave the nod. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Department of Plant Protection, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Requirements director Ker Monthivuth told The Post on Sunday that after several inspections of

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that