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Cablegate: Two Montagnards Deported From Cambodia, Two Ran

VZCZCXRO9199
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0347/01 1190210
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280210Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1648

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000347

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS AND PRM
BANGKOK FOR REFCOORD TIM SCHERER
HO CHI MINH CITY FOR TIM SWANSON
GENEVA FOR RMA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF CB VM
SUBJECT: TWO MONTAGNARDS DEPORTED FROM CAMBODIA, TWO RAN
AWAY


1. (SBU) Summary: During an April 25 deportation, two
Montagnard Vietnamese citizens who arrived at the UNHCR in
Cambodia after May 1, 2007 quietly boarded a Cambodian
Government-arranged minivan at a Phnom Penh UNHCR site and
headed for the Vietnam border. However, sometime during the
previous night, two other Montagnard individuals scheduled
for deportation on April 25 presumably ran away from the
Phnom Penh site and have not yet been located. A Cambodian
Ministry of Interior official on site stated that if the two
runaways are found or return, they will not be arrested and
they will be deported with the next group of departing
Montagnard individuals. End summary.

Quiet Deportation of Two Montagnards
------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In an early morning deportation on April 25, two
Montagnard Vietnamese citizens quietly boarded a Cambodian
Government-arranged minivan at a Phnom Penh UNHCR site and
headed for the Vietnam border. The two individuals arrived
at the UNHCR in Cambodia after May 1, 2007, the cutoff date
for Montagnard arrivals to be considered for U.S.
resettlement if UNHCR denied them refugee status. UNHCR
Phnom Penh stated that the two -- one female and one male --
arrived in June 2007, showing that current UNHCR processing
takes approximately 10 months for someone who is turned down
for refugee status. The individuals were each given a
humanitarian resettlement letter on U.S. Embassy letterhead.
The letter explains in English, Vietnamese, and Jarai
languages that if the individual faces persecution or
harassment, he or she may contact Embassy Hanoi or Consulate
Ho Chi Minh City, and provides the contact information for
the Consulate. There were no media or NGO representatives on
site during the deportation.

Two Others Ran Away
-------------------

3. (SBU) The deportation was originally planned for five
individuals. When Poloff, the UNHCR, and Ministry of
Interior staff arrived at the site in the morning, it was
discovered that two of the individuals were missing and
presumably ran away during the night. UNHCR Phnom Penh staff
has stated in previous meetings with Poloff that some
Montagnard individuals at the sites have been known to jump
over the site walls at night to go out drinking or to buy
beer or other things to bring into the site. However,
according to UNHCR Phnom Penh, this is the first time
individuals have run away when they were to be deported. The
senior Ministry of Interior (MOI) official on site for the
deportation, Deputy Director of the Internal Security
Department Mr. Sovann, asked for Poloff's advice when it was
discovered the two were missing. Poloff and the MOI official
agreed it would be best to continue with the deportation of
the other two in order to discourage others from attempting
to thwart repatriation plans by running away.

The Runaways Are Welcome Back at the Site
-----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) The two runaways are now considered illegal
immigrants. They have been turned down for refugee status by
the UNHCR and they entered Cambodia illegally. Initially,
the MOI official stated loudly in front of the other
Montagnards about throwing the two in jail when they are
found. Poloff counseled Sovann not to arrest the individuals
if they are found or if they return to the site, but rather
to let the runaways re-enter the UNHCR site and join with the
next group of deportees. Sovann then agreed that the
runaways will be allowed to come back to the site. He stated
that the MOI would talk to them about Cambodia's immigration
law, and about their current status. He also noted that if
they run away a second time, after this "education," that
they would be arrested. The fifth person who was to have
been deported has a wife at the same site who arrived after
he did. The wife's refugee status determination (RSD)
processing is not yet complete and UNHCR determined that the
husband should stay until the wife's processing is finished.
In fact, all five individuals originally scheduled for
deportation received humanitarian resettlement letters in
English, Vietnamese and Jarai languages.

Current Phnom Penh Site Montagnard Numbers
------------------------------------------


PHNOM PENH 00000347 002 OF 002


5. (SBU) As of April 21, there were 569 Montagnards at the
UNHCR sites in Phnom Penh -- 147 persons at Site 1, 94 at
Site 2, and 328 at Site 3. Site 3 holds mostly "new
arrivals." The UNHCR reports that there have been 161
Montagnard arrivals since January 2008 and all of them have
arrived directly to Phnom Penh, none through Ratanakiri or
Mondulkiri. The monthly breakdown is as follows: 51
arrivals in January, 21 in February, 76 in March, and 13 so
far in April.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Despite the MOI official's initial ranting over the
two runaways, he showed evenness in tone when discussing what
would happen next with Poloff. His decision to continue with
the deportation, and to allow the runaways to come back to
the UNHCR site if they are found are telling signs that the
Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to an undeterred
yet compassionate process. Most who were on site for the
deportation expressed concern for the two runaways. One
UNHCR staffperson wondered aloud if they might have returned
back to Vietnam on their own. Post will continue to seek
updates with the UNHCR and will report if there is news on
the runaways' whereabouts.
MUSSOMELI

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