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Cambodia Refugees Won't Return to Khmer Rouge Control, U.S. Says

June 28, 1989|From Associated Press

BANGKOK, Thailand — A Thai security official said Tuesday that a group of up to 600 Cambodian refugees would be returned to the control of the Communist Khmer Rouge, but the U.S. State Department later said that would not happen.

The refugees fled the Khmer Rouge camp of Kaiche, on the Cambodian border in eastern Thailand, after it was heavily shelled in mid-April and traveled a few miles to Sok Sann camp, run by the non-Communist Khmer People's National Liberation Front.

The Khmer Rouge, the largest guerrilla group fighting Vietnamese forces in Cambodia, wanted the refugees returned to Kaiche. But the U.N. Border Relief Operation and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which have reported widespread human rights violations in Khmer Rouge camps, insisted that the refugees be allowed to choose where to live.

The Thai official said that as a "compromise," the military decided the refugees should be moved to Site 8, the only Khmer Rouge camp where aid officials have been allowed to give refugees full medical and other services.

State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said in Washington that contrary to published reports, the Thai government confirmed to U.S. officials that the refugees will be allowed to remain in non-Communist resistance camps. She said this followed strong appeals from U.S. officials to Thailand that the refugees not be returned to Khmer Rouge control because their safety could not be assured.

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