With the deadline looming for hundreds of Montagnard asylum seekers in Cambodia to return “voluntarily” to the site of their alleged persecution or be forced back across the border, a group who have spent months living in the shadows this week spoke out about their life in limbo and fears of impending abuse.
In a safe-house on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, four of the Vietnamese asylum seekers knelt on the floor of a dingy room where they recalled the beatings and arrests they say drove them into Cambodia.
Three of them arrived seven months ago, crossing the well-trodden path over the border into Ratanakkiri province’s vast forests with eight other asylum seekers.
The fourth arrived in July in a group of 13, crossing into Svay Rieng province. Like hundreds of others, they then travelled down to the capital in hopes that the United Nations would be able to help. …
Alice Cuddy and Phak Seangly