Cambodia orders Montagnards to leave

Cambodia has told hundreds of Vietnamese Christian refugees to return home or face forced repatriation.

The UN estimated in August that over 200 Degars (or Montagnards), who observe a form of Protestantism outlawed in Vietnam, were waiting for their asylum claims to be processed.

Cambodia granted 13 of them refugee status in March, but the rest have now been labelled “illegal immigrants” and told to leave.

Denise Coghlan, head of the Jesuit Refugee Service, told the Cambodia Daily she expected the UN’s refugee agency to condemn Cambodia for a “gross violation of the Refugee Convention”.

“Some of [the Montagnards] have suffered imprisonment, beatings [in Vietnam]. Many have been asked with force to sign that they will not practise their religion. Cambodia must agree to register them and assess their cases,” she said.