Cambodia deports 1,008 Vietnamese in census raids

By T.Tien, Thanh Nien News

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A Vietnamese woman walks near her house on the banks of the Mekong river in Phnom Penh in a Reuters file photo taken in March 2014. A Vietnamese woman walks near her house on the banks of the Mekong river in Phnom Penh in a Reuters file photo taken in March 2014.

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Cambodian authorities ended their nearly six-month census that led to the deportation of 1,253 foreign nationals--1,008 of whom were Vietnamese--according to local media reports. 
The census began in August and quickly provoked anger and frustration within the ethnic Vietnamese community, which claimed Cambodian police unfairly targeted them and their businesses during inspections and raids, the Cambodia Daily reported.
According to the English-language paper, immigration police raided Vietnamese-owned businesses around Phnom Penh, the capital city, on Monday and arrested six people who could not produce documents proving they were working in the country lawfully. 
Monday’s raids were said to be the last in the nearly six-month census process that led to the deportations, according to Major General Uk Heisela, the chief of investigations at the immigration department. 
He also denied that Vietnamese people were being targeted by the police. 
“We do not focus just on Vietnam, we look at all nationalities, but the majority of immigrants in Cambodia are from Vietnam,” he was quoted as saying by Cambodia Daily. 
He added that Vietnamese migrants found to be working illegally on travel visas have been treated leniently and were not been deported so long as they agreed to return to Vietnam to apply for work visas. 
According to Mr. Heisela, the census found about 20,000 Vietnamese living in Cambodia--nowhere near the population described by the Cambodia National Rescue Party, (CNRP), one of the two major political parties in Cambodia. 
“We have done the census well; it’s not the same as how the opposition talk about it,” he said. “We expected about 300,000 at least, but only found about 200,000. [The CNRP] says in the newspapers that there are about 1 million, but we didn’t find them.”

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