More than 2,214 Orange County residents have signed a petition protesting the forced repatriation of Vietnamese "boat people" by the Hong Kong government, Vietnamese-American community leaders said Monday.
The petitions, which are addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, were presented to a U.N. adviser at a March 6 meeting in Anaheim to discuss the Vietnamese refugee problem.
The 2,214 signatures, which included at least 40 from non-Vietnamese citizens, were collected in just three days, according to the Vietnamese Community of Orange County Inc., a nonprofit social services agency that spearheaded the drive.
"Many of our own friends and relatives are among the tens of thousands of refugees now in camps or detention centers in Southeast Asia, often under the worst possible conditions and where the waiting period for resettlement in a third country may last for several years," Vietnamese Community's chairman Mai Cong said in a statement.
Forced repatriation, failure to give refugees asylum and the "cruel and indefinite detention" of Vietnamese in refugee camps all violate the Geneva Convention and the United Nations Protocol on refugees, the petitioners said.