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Montagnards Hunted by Dogs, Rights Worker Says

Montagnard hill tribesmen walk towards the main road after emerging from dense forest 70 km (43 miles) northeast of Ban Lung, located in Cambodia's northeastern province of Ratanakiri, file photo.

Rights workers say at least 32 new Montaganards are now in hiding in Ratanakiri province, but they fear they are being searched for by local authorities and canines, to be deported without a hearing on their potential asylum bids.

“Villagers informed me that the militias—agents of the police—used their dogs today to go into the jungle this morning to hunt Montagnards,” Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, told VOA Khmer.

The new search comes as authorities in Phnom Penh are questioning 13 Montagnard asylum seekers.

UN officials have urged Cambodia to abide by international conventions and give the asylum seekers fair hearings.

“We continue to advocate with the authorities that individuals who wish to seek asylum must be able to access the national asylum system managed by the government’s refugee department, as the 13 have been able to,” said Vivian Tan, regional spokeswoman for UNHCR.

Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said authorities have so far interviewed five or six of the 13 asylum seekers.

He confirmed a suspected 32 more in the jungles of Ratanakiri’s Yatung commune. However, he said he was unaware of the use of dogs to find them.