o’eang district, Mondolkiri province – Kroy Roth, an elderly member of the Phnong ethnic minority in Mondolkiri, said she cannot stop crying since her son, daughter-in-law, grandson and nephew were arrested Saturday.
Police arrested Diev Match, 45, his wife, The Phem, 37, his
2-year-old son, Diev Phong, and his cousin, Diev Sieng, telling relatives they were Montagnard asylum-seekers and would be deported to Vietnam.
“I have cried every day since my son was arrested. We don’t know where they are,” Kroy Roth said.
Phnong villagers, who live in near abject poverty exacerbated this year by a drought and the alleged grabbing of their land, said the recent arrests were the most dramatic incidents of frequent harassment by authorities.
The missing group arrived from Vietnam on Nov 5 in Pou Shiem village, Sen Monorom commune, with passports and letters authorizing their visit, Kroy Roth and others said.
Diev Match and his family fled from Cambodia to Vietnam at the fall of the Lon Nol regime, Kroy Roth said. She and Diev Match’s other siblings repatriated in 1988, but Diev Match and his wife chose to stay in Vietnam.
After more than two weeks in the village, Diev Match went to record his name and fingerprint at the commune police station, the relatives said.
“Police told Match that all people who visit relatives must fingerprint a document, so he went to the police station at 6 am and they arrested him,” Kroy Roth said.
His wife, son and cousin were also arrested.
Police loaded the group into a truck but did not say where they were taken, said relatives who have accused police of returning the visitors to Vietnam in exchange for money.
Sen Monorom commune police Chief El Buncy denied police received money for deporting people to Vietnam. He said police only escorted them to the border.