The government is in favor of disclosing the passenger list from last month’s secret deportation of illegal Chinese immigrants from the capital’s military airport. However, Ministry of Interior officials have not replied to the request, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thursday.
An official request to release the passenger list from the Sept 23 deportation was made to Ministry of Interior officials Monday, Khieu Kanharith said.
“I have contacted the Ministry of Interior because they must release the list or make a public statement about the departure [of the Chinese immigrants]….This would be the best for both the Interior Ministry and the government,” he said.
According to Khieu Kanharith, Co-Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng was also in favor of releasing the list but it was up to Immigration Police Chief Prok Sareoun to make the document public.
“[Immigration Police] must display a strong motivation to convince everybody that all the Chinese left Cambodia,” said Khieu Kanharith.
However, Prok Sareoun remained adamant this week that the list of names would not be released.
“What is the use of releasing that list? All the immigrants have left the country already,” Prok Sareoun said Thursday.
Prok Sareoun had said Tuesday that a public statement on the issue was unnecessary.
“I don’t think we need a press conference. Other countries have sent back thousands of illegal Cambodian immigrants without holding a press conference,” he said.
Reporters were denied entry by armed men to the capital’s military airport on the morning of the deportation, effectively preventing independent verification of official assertions that all 217 the Chinese were deported.
Interior Ministry Spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Monday that Sar Kheng already had given Prok Saroeun the “green light” to release the list.
“Sar Kheng gave the green light to allow the press to interview the illegal Chinese….The flight list is the same,” said Khieu Sopheak.
Sam Rainsy Party Cabinet Chief Phi Thach said Thursday his party issued a letter to the National Assembly on Wednesday asking why the government did not release the deportation flight list to the public.
According to Phi Thach, the passenger list has been withheld from the public to stop the emergence of damaging details of the Chinese smuggling ring.
“Maybe there is something interesting relating to the names on that list. Let public opinion judge why there is a conspiracy [to keep the list secret],” said Phi Thach.
Deputy Chief of National Police Teng Savong reiterated Tuesday that the flight list should not be released to the public.
“Other countries do not give all their secrets to the press. If we did like that there would be a state of anarchy,” said Teng Savong. (Additional reporting by Chea Sovirak)