Thirteen Vietnamese Montagnards seeking asylum in Cambodia were forced back to Vietnam on Wednesday, ending their hopes of being settled outside the country from which they had fled, sources said.
Speaking on Thursday to RFA’s Vietnamese Service, Grace Bui—a volunteer with the U.S.-based rights group Montagnards Assistance Project—confirmed the group’s arrival in Vietnam.
“They have arrived in Vietnam, but I don’t know what’s going to happen to them,” Bui told RFA.
“Usually, when [deported Montagnards] arrive in Vietnam, the authorities will come to pick them up. Then they bring them to a police station to work on some documents, take fingerprints, and then offer them a meal before letting them go home,” she said.
Bui told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Tuesday that the 13 who would be sent back were among 16 whose requests for asylum were denied by the Cambodian government in June.
"The Cambodian government wanted to deport all 16 people, but I heard they had to postpone this because of public disapproval,” Bui told RFA.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had objected to the removal of the group, and one asylum seeker quoted on Thursday by the English-language Cambodia Daily told Bui that they had been sent back from Cambodia against their will.
"He said no one wanted to go back to Vietnam."
Hundreds of Montagnards have fled their country in recent years and crossed the border into Cambodia, citing oppression by the Vietnamese government, religious persecution of the mainly Christian minority, and expropriation of their land.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Emily Peyman. Written in English by Richard Finney.