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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Persecuted hill tribe people sent home

Montagnard people complain about discrimination in Vietnam. Reuters

Six people from the Vietnamese Montagnard hill tribe were yesterday sent back to their homeland by Rattanakiri province immigration police working with UN human rights representatives.Rattanakiri provincial police chief Nguon Koeun said he had seen a report about the repatriation of the group, including one woman, who crossed through the O’Yadav international border gate yesterday. He could not give further details on the case.

Am Sam Ath, a senior coordinator at rights group Licadho, said he was worried about the safety of the six, since the Montagnards are being persecuted in Vietnam. He said persecution had led many to flee and seek asylum in Cambodia.

“The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees should monitor their situation more frequently,” he added.

Montagnard is a French term for the Vietnamese hill tribe, who are ethnic minority Christians residing in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

Members of the tribe have been crossing into Cambodia, complaining that Vietnamese authorities are curtailing their political and religious rights.

More than 100 Montagnards have sought asylum in Cambodia in the past few years.

However, dozens have been arrested and deported. Only 13 people have so far received temporary refugee status.

Kem Sarin, the immigration department head at the Interior Ministry, declined to comment on the case. Tan Sovichea, the head of the ministry’s refugee department, could not be reached for comment.

Bill Laurie chuyen

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