Montagnards Set to Be Handed to Hanoi Officials

Sixteen Montagnards who ran out of asylum appeals in Cambodia were taken to Ratanakkiri province on Thursday and were expected to be handed over to Vietnamese authorities today, an official said.

The group, who claim to have escaped widespread oppression and surveillance in Vietnam for reasons that include practicing a form of Christianity not sanctioned by Hanoi, were accompanied by officers from the UNHCR, the U.N.’s refugee agency, deputy provincial police chief Chea Bunthoeun said.

“The 16 Montagnards already arrived in Ratanakkiri province and they will sleep in Banlung City overnight, then they will cross the border to Vietnam tomorrow through the O’Yadaw International Checkpoint,” he said.

An immigration official said on Wednesday that the 16 initially refused to return due to fear of reprisals, but were told they had no choice because their appeals had been rejected.

Recent returnees have complained of continued persecution upon return.

The latest repatriation leaves 49 Montagnards in Phnom Penh waiting for their cases to be heard at the Court of Appeal after their applications were rejected.

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