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Cambodia: UNHCR protest on deportations and disappearance

Briefing notes

Cambodia: UNHCR protest on deportations and disappearance

20 August 2002

UNHCR has formally expressed grave concern to the Cambodian authorities over the reported deportation of two Chinese Falun Gong practitioners earlier this month and the disappearance last month from Cambodia of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk - all three persons deemed to be in need of international protection by UNHCR.

Falun Gong practitioner Li Guojun and his wife, Zhang Xinyi, were arrested in Phnom Penh on 2 August and their situation or whereabouts are unknown. The husband and wife are persons of concern to UNHCR. Shortly after their arrest, UNHCR made repeated efforts to contact the Cambodia authorities to have access to the detainees, obtain their release and ensure their protection. Under international law, such persons are to be safeguarded from being sent back to their country of origin. The arrest and deportation of the couple follows a mysterious disappearance from Phnom Penh and feared deportation to Viet Nam of the Venerable Thich Tri Luc, a Buddhist monk recognised as a refugee by UNHCR.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, said that his Office has raised this matter at the highest level and requested clarification. He has also called on the Cambodian government to renew its commitments as a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and guarantee the protection of refugees and asylum seekers.