Villagers in Ratanakkiri province reported Saturday seeing two bodies floating down a river that human rights group Adhoc fears were Montagnard asylum-seekers fleeing Vietnam, Adhoc monitor Meas Khlemsa said Monday.
Two groups of villagers told Adhoc they saw the bodies on April 10, Meas Khlemsa said. He did not know how they died.
The two bodies were spotted in the Sesan river in En village, Ta Lao commune, Andong Meas district, Meas Khlemsa said.
One group of villagers saw the body of a woman, the other saw a decomposed body that appeared to be a man, he said.
While the villagers believed the bodies were of indigenous people, Adhoc monitor Pen Bonnar said he hadn’t received information from authorities living along the river that anyone was missing.
“Because of this I think these are bodies of Montagnards fleeing Vietnam,” Pen Bonnar said.
Ta Lao commune Chief Sopar Sobun told Adhoc he has received reports from villagers who say they saw four bodies in the river, Meas Khlemsa said.
The four reportedly included two men, a woman and a child, Meas Khlemsa said.
Pen Bonnar said he did not believe the bodies were any of the five Montagnards reported on April 27 to be hiding in the jungles and trying to reach the UN High Commissioner for Re-fugees.
UNHCR country representative Thamrongsak Meechubot said Monday he had not received any reports of the bodies.
The government has not yet given permission for the UNHCR to go to Ratanakkiri to try and reach the five, Meechubot said.
Hor Ang, first deputy provincial police chief, said Monday he had heard reports of the bodies. “We suspect the bodies were from Vietnam…but we cannot conclude they were Montagnards,” he said.
Vietnamese Embassy spokesman Nguyen Thanh Duc could not be reached for comment Monday.