No word on refugees

Eighteen ethnic Montagnards from Vietnam
Eighteen ethnic Montagnards from Vietnam pose for a photo in Ratanakkiri province last week after they fled to Cambodia to escape political persecution. ADHOC

No word on refugees

The fate of five Montagnards who were arrested in Ratanakkiri province over the weekend remained unknown yesterday as the United Nations and a local NGO urged the authorities to reveal their whereabouts.

In a statement, rights group Adhoc said the arrest of the asylum seekers – a mother and father, their two young sons, and 9-month-old daughter – was a “violation of human rights”.

Wan-Hea Lee, country representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), echoed Adhoc’s condemnation.

“OHCHR is very concerned for the persons arrested over the weekend, as well as for those still in hiding. We have not been able to confirm their whereabouts from official sources – neither the provincial police or governor’s office are responsive,” she said.

The Post was also unable to confirm the whereabouts of the detainees, who were arrested in O’Yadav district on Sunday.

Ethnic Jarai villagers in the province said that the detained father is a Cambodian Jarai from Andong Meas district who married his wife, a Vietnamese Jarai, about six years ago.

Provincial police chief Nguon Keun and Provincial Hall spokesman Ming Sineath said they were unaware of the arrests.

A police officer in Andong Meas district, who declined to be named, confirmed the family’s arrest but said he was unsure where they were sent.

He added that another three “Vietnamese people” were arrested on Sunday after crossing the border illegally and sent to the provincial police station.

Meanwhile, the search for 27 Montagnards still hiding in the province has intensified.

Adhoc provincial coordinator Chhay Thy and local villagers said armed Cambodian and Vietnamese police had arrived in Andong Meas district.

Jarai villagers said that they had moved four Montagnards, who narrowly avoided arrest.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

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