Police Deport 7 Montagnards From Ratanakkiri to Vietnam

By | January 26, 2015

As 14 Montagnard asylum seekers continue to evade authorities in the forests of Ratanakkiri province, an official said Sunday that police deported seven “Vietnamese Jarai” from the northeastern province on Saturday.

Ratanakkiri provincial police chief Nguon Koeun said border police arrested the seven on Saturday in O’Yadaw district’s Paknhai commune and handed them over to Vietnamese authorities near the border later that day.

“We arrested those people because they crossed the border illegally and farmed in our Khmer land,” he said.

“They are not Montagnards, they are Vietnamese Jarai people,” he added.

The Montagnards are an indigenous group concentrated in Vietnam’s Central Highlands made up of about 30 hill tribes, including the Jarai. Although a population of Jarai lives in Ratanakkiri, most members of the ethnic group live in Vietnam’s Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces. All Vietnamese Jarai are considered Montagnards.

On January 3, a group of five Montagnard asylum seekers crossed into Ratanakkiri and have since been aided by a group of Cambodian Jarai in O’Yadaw district.

A separate group of nine Montagnards, including two children and an infant, arrived in the province on January 17 and has since joined the group of five. Both groups claim to be fleeing religious and political persecution in Vietnam.

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