A consulate official said the escape happened on Sunday evening after Vietnam embassy staff in Phnom Penh received a text message from someone in the group asking for help. The group worked in several facilities in Sihanoukville’s Chinatown.
A screenshot of the messages between the representative and the group of Vietnamese people shows that they asked for help at 6:56 p.m. last Sunday and gave their location in Chinatown.
Believing that the situation was not too dangerous, the representative of the consulate, who wished to remain anonymous, ordered the group to flee on their own.
“Cambodian authorities have cracked down heavily on establishments using illegal labor in the city of Sihanoukville,” he said.
“Since the Vietnamese group was quite large and they all stayed in one place, the people running the facilities didn’t dare to do anything because they couldn’t face dozens of them at the same time, especially when there were brave Vietnamese in the group.”
About three hours later, the group informed the representative that nearly 70 of them had managed to escape in two groups, but some of them were still stuck.
At 10:11 p.m., the group said they were all safe and asked for help to get home.
The consulate had the group taken to the international border gate of Moc Bai in the South Vietnamese province of Tay Ninh. The escapees reached Vietnam that night.
Five of them missed the bus that night and were sent to the consulate office to rest for the night. They were sent home the next morning via the border gate in another province in southern Vietnam – Kien Giang.
On Monday, border guards in the southern province of An Giang, bordering Cambodia, received 44 Vietnamese citizens handed over by Cambodian authorities.
Most of them were illegal workers in casinos in Cambodia.
It was the third time this year that An Giang border guards received Vietnamese returning from Cambodian casinos. A total of 111 Vietnamese have been rescued from casinos so far this year.
According to a source from Vietnam’s Consulate General’s office in Sihanoukville, there are about 200 to 300 cases of Vietnamese nationals detained by Cambodian authorities, pending the settlement of return procedures. These people have just been rescued from illegal settlements.
On Saturday afternoon, more than 50 Vietnamese workers fled a casino in Cambodia’s Svay Rieng province near the Moc Bai border and were detained by Cambodian authorities.
On August 18, 40 Vietnamese swam across the Binh Di River to escape from Phoenix Casino in Cambodia to Vietnam’s An Giang province.
One of two other people who had also tried to escape – a teenager – drowned in the river, while the other was captured by people at the casino.
In most cases, Vietnamese said they were detained and forced to work against their will in illegal facilities in Cambodia and subjected to torture. Some said they were cheated and sold.
During the first half of this year, the Ministry of Public Security dismantled several networks smuggling people into Cambodia for illegal work.
Authorities also rescued hundreds of Vietnamese citizens and helped thousands of people in Cambodia complete procedures to return home.