It has been over two months since Thai authorities have arrested and detained over 181 Montagnard refugees from Vietnam on the outskirts of Bangkok. Most of the 181 refugees detained were Christians.
The adults arrested were kept at the Immigration Detention Center (IDC), while 47 children and infants are now being held at the Thai Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
Christians in Vietnam have faced persecution for decades, yet it appears to be escalating. With continued reports of human right abuses and violations against them in their home country, many have escaped to Cambodia and Thailand hoping for a better life for them and their families.
Yet, for many when they arrive in Cambodia and Thailand they are arrested and either detained or deported back to Vietnam. While some have been able to attain refugee status by the UN, given Thailand is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, they are unable to work legally and are often subject to abuse and exploitation.
Still, many people would rather sit in a crowded jail cell than stay in their homeland. One detainee explained that “if I get sent back I’ll go back to jail and be tortured.”
Human rights groups have called on the Thai government to release these detainees, yet nothing has been done.