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Forced Repatriation of Lao Hmong Refugees Worrying


Thailand's Forced Repatriation of Lao Hmong Refugees Draws Concern

In response to recent dire developments in Thailand and Laos regarding the horrific plight of thousands of Hmong refugees, the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) will be co-hosting events in Washington, D.C. on February 5-6, 2009 with policymakers, non-governmental organizations and Members of Congress, at the National Press Club and the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. 

"For many decades, the Kingdom of Thailand has enjoyed a special and positive image in the minds of the American people and a special consideration as an ally of the American Government.  This privileged relationship has been good for both countries and their peoples," said Ambassador H. Eugene Douglas, Former U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs. "Unfortunately, today the image of Thailand as a place of  beauty, gentleness and compassion is being stained by inexplicably harsh actions by the Thai Government, the Thai Army and the country's police against thousands of helpless Lao ethnic  Hmong who fled Laos for sanctuary in Thailand and who now are confined under harsh conditions inappropriate to their status."

Ambassador Douglas continued:  "Despite repeated calls from refugee, family and human rights groups to gain access to these people in order to arrange for their orderly departure from Thailand, the Thai Government and the Army persist in pressing for their return to Laos.  Many, if not a majority of these Hmong , fear for their safety should they be returned."
 
"Today, we received disturbing news that some 190 Hmong political refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao and  Nong Kha, Thailand  are about to be forced back to Laos by Thai military officials and Ministry of the Interior special troops," stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. " Many of these Lao Hmong political refugees in Thailand have family in the United States and should granted asylum in Thailand until they can resettled in other countries."

The emergency plight of some 6,000-7,000 Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province, and Nong Khai, Thailand who are faced with dire humanitarian conditions and forced repatriation back to Laos will be discussed at the national policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday and Friday.  Additionally, the egregious human rights situation in Laos will also be one of the key topics of discussion including issues of political and religious persecution directed against the Hmong and other Laotian minority peoples.

The National Policy Conference/Press Conference will be organized in a panel discussion format and is entitled:  "Laos, Hmong Refugee Crisis: Tragic Mountains and the Human Rights and Humanitarian Challenge in Thailand and Southeast Asia."

"The Thai government and Thai military should stop forcing Lao and Hmong refugees back to Laos," stated Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute.  "The Thai Government and Thai military should open the door to the United Nations and third countries to resettle the Lao and Hmong refugees abroad," concluded Colonel Wangyee Vang

At the National Press Club, members of the Hmong and Laotian community will also seek to honor journalist, author and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, who will serve as a keynote speaker at the event.  She has persistently and courageously written about, and reported, on the plight of the Hmong and Laotian people during the Vietnam War and its aftermath.  Dr. Hamilton-Merritt continues to research and write about the plight of the Lao Hmong people and has frequently testified in the U.S. Congress.  The 15th Anniversary of the publication of her book "Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos" (Indiana University Press), will be discussed and recognized in the context of Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt's ongoing humanitarian and human rights work with Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand, Laos and the United States.

"We appeal to the Thai military and Royal Thai government to abide by international law and immediately stop the repatriation of Hmong asylum seekers and refugees back to the brutal communist regime in Laos that continues to persecute and kill many of them," stated Vaughn Vang, Director of the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council.

Confirmed and invited speakers at the panel discussion at the National Press Club policy conference include:  T. Kumar, Advocacy Director Amnesty International, Washington, D.C. office; Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Laos and Hmong Scholar, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and author of "Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans and Secret Wars for Laos"; U.S. Ambassador H. Eugene Douglas, Former Coordinator For Refugee Affairs; Members of Congress and Congressional staff, Wangyee Vang, Lao Veterans of America Institute, Inc.; Vaughn Vang, Director Hmong Lao Human Right Council; Hmong Diaspora Leadership Council; Grant McClure, Counterparts Organization; Lao Hmong Student Organization representatives; Doctors Without Borders (MSF); Human Rights Watch; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Washington Office; U.S. Department of State; U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom; Indiana University Press, Embassy of Thailand and others.
ends

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