Police Start Evicting Vietnamese from Philippines Camp
MORONG, Philippines (AP) _ Refused entry into the United States and denied asylum in the Philippines, scores of Vietnamese boat people threatened to kill themselves Thursday rather than go back to their Communist homeland.
A daylong standoff ended when police dragged the 272 Vietnamese from a camp west of Manila where they had spent years trying to emigrate to America.
``We are your friends!″ officers shouted as they carried off children kicking and screaming.
The government planned to move the refugees to Palawan Island, southwest of Manila, before sending them back to Vietnam this year. An attempt last month to move them was postponed because of similar suicide threats.
Many of the Vietnamese climbed to the roofs Thursday, wailing ``Please don’t force us to kill ourselves!″ Police closed in with truncheons and crowbars while others turned firehoses on the rooftops.
None of the Vietnamese carried through with the suicide threat, but two teen-agers suffered self-inflicted knife wounds. Four women collapsed from heat exhaustion, and a pregnant woman went into labor and was taken to a hospital.
Most of the Vietnamese came to the Philippines four years ago under a program allowing them to emigrate to the United States after cultural training and English instruction at the camp.
About 200,000 Vietnamese have passed through the Philippines under the program, but 400 have been rejected, including the remaining 272. They were denied entry to the United States for various reasons, including fraudulent documents.
They also failed to convince Philippine authorities that they faced political persecution in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese refused to leave the camp even after U.N. funding was cut off Dec. 31 and water and electricity shut off. Since then they have been surviving on handouts from local farmers.
In a related development, an international program set up to cope with the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese boat people is to be wrapped up by the end of the year, the U.N. refugee agency said Thursday.
At a meeting in Geneva, representatives of 30 countries dealing with the boat people decided that those who don’t face persecution at home and don’t accept voluntary repatriation would be told to leave.
``The time has come for those not considered refugees to return home and start a new life,″ said Werner Blatter, director for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Some 840,000 people have fled Vietnam since the communist takeover of the south in 1975. Since then, 750,000 have been resettled. Some 70,000 have returned to Vietnam.
Around 41,000 Vietnamese remain in camps in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Japan. Only 1,000 are genuine refugees awaiting resettlement.