Twenty-six Montagnard Christians who fled Vietnam because of religious persecution are being repatriated to Vietnam by the Cambodian government. The government claims they “volunteered” to be sent home. A couple which is being repatriated was separated by the UNHCR and kept at separate facilities. The UNHCR said they had to separate they couple “so they cannot contact each other” because they “volunteered to be repatriated.” A Montagnard representative said the people who are being repatriated are afraid to return home because of discrimination and persecution.
4/20/17 Vietnam (4/20/2017) – Cambodian immigration officials will repatriate 26 Montagnard asylum seekers to Vietnam this weekend to comply with a request by the United Nations refugee agency, the head of the Interior Ministry’s refugee department said Tuesday.
Tan Sovichea said that the Montagnards who failed to obtain refugee status from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) are voluntarily returning to their homeland.
“The government isn’t deporting them because they have volunteered to return with the UNHCR’s cooperation,” he told RFA’s Khmer Service.
Before sending the Montagnards back to Vietnam, Tan Sovichea said immigration authorities took a husband and his wife to two separate facilities to prevent them from escaping to Thailand where many Montagnards have sought refuge.
“We aren’t stopping them, but we just took them to separate locations so they cannot contact each other because they are among the group of Montagnards who have volunteered to be repatriated to Vietnam,” he said.