By Mao Sotheany
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
18 Khmer Krom refugees were released by Thailand after they were detained since Saturday. These Khmer Krom refugees were released from Bangkok jail on Monday, after an intervention from the UNHCR.
Son Savang, a holder of an official UNHCR refugee document, and 17 other prisoners who also received the UNHCR refugee status document, were released in the morning of 16 March under the watchful eyes of UNHCR lawyers, journalists and local civil society representatives.
Son Savang said on the phone from Bangkok that the Thai authority held a decent conduct during the release: “I noted that the cops were polite, and they respected us. They brought in packs of bottle water for us to drink. When I was released at about 2PM, they did not allow all of us to come out at once, they were afraid that the reporters will take our pictures, they let us out 6 at a time. After 6 prisoners are released, they are packed into a taxi and taken out, then another 6 prisoners are released. The Thai cops were puzzled as to who gave the information to the reporters about our release. ‘How did they get the cops phone number to come and interview you in jail like this?’ I told them that I don’t know, I told them to go ask Radio Free Asia because I don’t have any information, I don’t know anything, I am just a prisoner in jail.”
On Sunday, RFA attempted to contact the Thai police authority which was responsible for the arrest of 26 Khmer Krom people, however nobody picked up the phone.
Nevertheless, the UNHCR promised to RFA that it will intervene through its channels to resolve this issue and obtain the release as fast as they can.
Son Savang indicated that another 8 Khmer Krom refugees have not been released yet because they just arrived in Thailand, and they have not received any UNHCR documents yet.
Those who are still incarcerated include 5 men, 3 women including a 9-year-old girl with her mother.
Thach Ngoc Thach, executive director of the US-based Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF), appealed to the UNHCR to speed up its intervention to secure the release of the 8 Khmer Krom refugees still incarcerated by Thai authority: “Regarding the recent arrest of Khmer Krom refugees in Bangkok, we, at the KKF, are very concerned and we appeal to the UNHCR to resolve this issue immediately to secure the release of these 8 Khmer Krom refugees who are waiting to receive their interviews (from the UNHCR). We hope that our contacts with all these organizations will resolve the issue for our Khmer Krom brothers and sisters who took refuge in Thailand.”
He indicated that the KKF sent out letters to all organizations involved, asking them to intervene to help resolve this issue as soon as possible.