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Cablegate: Update On Hmong Returnees and Pha Lak Resettlement

VZCZCXRO1799
RR RUEHCHI
DE RUEHVN #0320/01 1570902
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050902Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2047
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 7715
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0637
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0633

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VIENTIANE 000320

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS (BESTIC);
DEPARTMENT FOR PRM/ENA;
DEPARTMENT FOR PRM/ADM;
BANGKOK FOR POL (SUTTON);
BANGKOK FOR REFCOORD (SCHERER);
GENEVA FOR RMA;
PACOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: LA PHUM PREF PREL TH
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON HMONG RETURNEES AND PHA LAK RESETTLEMENT
VILLAGE

REF: A. VIENTIANE 0227
B. VIENTIANE 0225

1. (SBU) Summary: MFA Spokesman Yong told Emboffs June 4 the
56 recent Hmong voluntary returnees from Thailand should
finish processing and be sent to their home provinces soon.
He said his video showing earlier returnees living peacefully
in Laos was helping convince Huay Nam Khao camp residents to
return. Yong had just been to the new resettlement village
at Pha Lak for end-of-school-year festivities and showed
photos of a clean village with reasonably well-fed and
well-clothed village residents. Pha Lak is reaching
capacity, and a new larger resettlement village being planned
at Khamkeut should be ready later this year. End summary.

Recent Returnees
----------------
2. (SBU) PolOff and PAO visited MFA Press Department Director
General and Spokesman Yong Chanthalangsy June 4 to provide
advance copy of the 2008 TIP report. Yong took advantage of
the opportunity to provide updated information on Hmong
returnees from Thailand. He noted that the 56 Hmong (19
families) in the group voluntarily returned May 30 from the
Huay Nam Khao holding camp in Petchabun, Thailand, were
undergoing processing and should be ready to be returned to
their home provinces by June 6. Most are going back to Xiang
Khouang and Bolikhamsai Provinces with two people going to
Luang Prabang and one to Udomsai. According to Yong these 56
had been separated from the main Huay Nam Khao population
before being returned; this reflected a lesson learned from
the "bad experience" which had occurred in late February when
a group of 11 voluntary returnees departed directly from the
main camp amidst protests from camp elements opposed to
anyone "breaking ranks" and choosing voluntary return.

3. (SBU) Yong said a video he had put together had been
screened at Huay Nam Khao. The video showed earlier groups
of Hmong back in Laos living peacefully and without
mistreatment -- including a comment from one returnee that
she was applying for a passport to return to Thailand
"legally" to visit relatives at Huay Nam Khao. According to
Yong, the opponents of peaceful return "had no more
arguments."

Pha Lak and Khamkeut Villages
-----------------------------
4. (SBU) Yong said he had been at Pha Lak Village June 2 to
celebrate the end of the school year, International
Children's Day, and International Arbor Day. Pha Lak is a
new resettlement village in northern Vientiane Province for
Hmong returnees who lack home provinces to return to --
generally because they had been in the jungles as part of the
insurgency for many years. The Pha Lak population is now 431
with 67 families. Yong noted Pha Lak has enough land to
support 100 households, and the government has finished 96
homes for returnees (so another 200 returnees could be
resettled in Pha Lak before it reaches capacity). The
government is planning to begin construction of a new village
at "Khamkeut," which Yong said is located close to Kilometer
20 on Route 13 north (the main road from Vientiane to Luang
Prabang). Khamkeut would be ready beginning in September and
have enough space for at least 200 homes, and perhaps as many
as 300 -- which would allow resettlement of as many as 1500
future returnees according to Yong.

5. (SBU) Land usage has been an issue at Pha Lak as new
families are resettled in formerly open areas which had been
used by existing village

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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