Two more ethnic Montagnards from Vietnam are in hiding in a remote northeastern province in Cambodia, two days after villagers there helped six others reach United Nations refugee agency personnel in the capital to seek asylum, local residents said Tuesday.
One of the two Montagnards—Christian indigenous people from Vietnam’s Central Highlands who say they are fleeing political and religious persecution in their home country—was among others who previously made it to Cambodia, but were deported back to Vietnam, said local villager Sev Sving of Oyadaw district in Ratanakiri province.
“The Vietnamese police were investigating them day and night,” he told RFA’s Khmer Service. “They [the Montagnards] were concerned that they would be put in jail, so they escaped to Cambodia.
Now local authorities in Ratanakiri are trying to determine the location of the two, who arrived in the province last week, he added.
“We are concerned that they will be deported,” Sev Sving said. “I urge the U.N. to help them because they don’t want to return to Vietnam.”
Between May and mid-June, villagers helped 23 Montagnards travel to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh so they could meet with representatives from the U.N. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC).
Provincial city hall spokesman Nhem Samoeun refused to comment on the arrival of the two Montagnards.
Chhay Thi, the provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, confirmed that the 23 reached Phnom Penh and said villagers were providing food and shelter to the two others.
Cambodian police have reinforced border patrols making it more difficult for Montagnards to cross the border and enter Phnom Penh, he added.
Vivian Tan, the UNHCR’s spokeswoman in Bangkok, did not respond to questions submitted by RFA about the situation.
Vietnam’s Central Highlands are home to some 30 tribes of indigenous peoples, known collectively as Montagnards, or the Degar, and suffer extreme persecution, according to rights groups.
Reported by Ratha Visal for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.