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ICC Note: Montagnards, Christian ethnic minority who are due to be deported back to Vietnam will likely face serious persecution. Despite UNHCR’s persistence, the Cambodian government is not willing to grant refugee status to 29 Montagnards. While in Vietnam, Montagnards were often starved, beaten, and tortured due to their Christian faith. Many went through years of imprisonment and harassment before they escaped to Cambodia. The Cambodian government is putting their lives at risk with the decision to ship them back.

09/18/2017 Cambodia (Phnom Penh Post) – When Rlan Lap was 25 years old, he ran into the jungle. For the next two years, he lived mostly in hiding in the thick green of the trees.

A Montagnard – a member of the mostly Christian ethnic minority groups who dwell in Vietnam’s Central Highlands – Lap had participated in a protest advocating religious freedom in 2001. His dissent marked him out to police.

Lap mostly foraged for vegetables and drank from a nearby waterfall. But when he ran out of food, he would sneak back to his home village and scavenge rice. Once, police followed him back into the jungle.

“They shot me – right in the chest,” he said, but with a synthetic or rubber bullet. It stung, but it didn’t wound him badly.

He spent more than three years in jail – where he was beaten into unconsciousness – but once he was released, the harassment didn’t stop.

“They summoned me to the police station. They beat my head on the table until my head and teeth bled,” he said.

Lap, now 40, walked for four days through the jungle to cross into Cambodia. He arrived on September 28, 2015. After two years’ reprieve, he now dreads going back.

“I am very scared, I am very nervous. I know when they take me back to Vietnam, they are not going to treat me well.”

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