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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3238

Question No. 660

Mr MacKellar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 1 November 1983:

(1) Has the Government been informed of allegations by Khmer refugees, arriving in a refugee camp at Ban Sangae on the Thai/Cambodian border, that Vietnam has been conducting a repressive campaign in rural areas in north-western Cambodia.

(2) If so, (a) what localities have been subjected to this alleged campaign and (b) do the refugees allege that Vietnamese have looted livestock and foodstocks, causing the exodus of a least one entire village of 700 people.

(3) What credence does the Govenment give to reports that villagers have been tortured by having their heads put in plastic bags, whilst Vietnamese soldiers use knives and bayonets to sever ears and fingers to extract confessions.

(4) Is he able to say whether these alleged incidents represent a change in Vietnamese occupation policies.

Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Government is aware of the reported allegations. However, we do not have firm evidence to confirm the accuracy of the reports.

(2) (a) and (b) Press reports based on refugee accounts claim that the alleged campaign has been conducted in the north and north-western provinces of Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap and Battambang. Details of the alleged campaign vary from report to report.

(3) The Government is aware of allegations of Vietnamese repression in these areas. To date, however, little information has been received that would lend credence to reports of extreme measures such as the use of torture. Should such reports prove to be correct, the Government would be deeply disturbed and would not hesitate to say so to the Vietnamese Government.

(4) In the absence of firm evidence, it is too early to assess whether the occurrence of the alleged repression in certain localities can be taken as a change in Vietnamese policies in Cambodia.