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ICC Note: The Montagnards in Vietnam are often persecuted by the government for their Christian faith. Hundreds have escaped to Cambodia with the hope of seeking asylum status. Yet only few were granted. In an effort to repatriate more Montagnards home, Cambodia sent team from the Interior Ministry last week to Vietnam, forcing the children and relatives of Montagnard refugees to write letters to ask for their return. The refugees said use of intimidation pushed their loved ones to write letters as suggested by the authorities.

08/16/2017 Vietnam (The Phnom Penh Post) – A team from the Interior Ministry last week went to Vietnam and visited the families of at least two Montagnards who are pursuing refugee status in Phnom Penh, with one asylum seeker saying his daughter was “forced” to write a letter asking him to return home – an account denied by an official.

Reached via translators yesterday, two Montagnards in the capital, who are appealing a decision to reject their refugee applications, said Cambodian officials from the ministry’s Refugee Department had visited their relatives, together with Vietnamese police, whom the asylum seekers accuse of persecution.

In responses to questions provided by The Post and conveyed by a translator, one of the men, Kpa Y Rin, said the officers from both countries arrived at his daughter’s house on the afternoon of August 11.

Rin – who is in his 40s and said he fled to Cambodia in 2015 with his wife after serving a 10-year prison sentence for leading a demonstration for religious freedom – said the delegation “forced” the 21-year-old to write a letter.

He said she willingly wrote the first section saying she missed her parents and attesting to her wellbeing, but was told to ask them to “come back”, and to state that the Vietnamese authorities would “not persecute” the pair.

Rin said he remained fearful of ill-treatment if he returned, saying he was “scared” he would be put back in jail. “I will not go back at all,” he said.

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