A police attempt to deport 29 Vietnam Montagnards whose
refugee applications had been rejected led to a protest outside a UN refugee house
in Phnom Penh's
Tuol Kork district Friday morning.
"They were worried that [the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees] would deport them to Vietnam,"
Cambodian Center for Human Rights investigator Ing
Kong Chit said. "They asked UNHCR not to send them back to their home
villages, because they are afraid of oppression."
Three of the deportees initially escaped police attempts to
return the Montagnards to Vietnam,
though one was caught and returned with 26 others.
Two returned to the refugee house and led a protest of about 50
more Montagnards over the deportation.
Montagnards have been crossing the
Cambodian-Vietnamese border at Ratanakkiri and Mondolkiri provinces since 2001 seeking refugee status from the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees. Those who are not granted refugee protection
are returned to Vietnam.
"They [make a claim] to go to third countries, but not
to be sent to Vietnam,"
UNHCR field protection officer Chung Ravuth said. "This is the main topic
that they demonstrated over. And then we called them to come inside and start
negotiating. We promised them that we would settle the problem."
More than 400 Montagnards are staying in refugee houses
across Phnom Penh,
Chung Ravuth said.
More than 1,000 refugees have been accepted as refugees and
moved to third countries since 2001, most of them by the US, he said.