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Hmong Refugees in Thailand Sparks Suicide Attempts

Starvation, Repatriation of Laos, Hmong Refugees in Thailand Sparks Suicide Attempts

Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, Thailand, April 30, 2009, For Immediate Release

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's recent announcement to force nearly 5,500 Lao Hmong political refugees back to the military regime that they fled in Laos has sparked a wave of suicide attempts by the refugees who now reportedly face another major food cut off in Thailand.

"A series of recent food cut-offs, fresh water supply denials and heavy-handed attempts to pressure some 5,500 Lao Hmong political refugees to go back to Laos by Thai Prime Minister Abasit and Thai Third Army commanders is causing a wave of suicide attempts and terrible human suffering of the Lao and Hmong people," stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C. "Ironically, many of these 5,500 Lao Hmong refugees fled political and religious persecution as well as mass starvation and military attacks in Laos to seek political asylum in Thailand , according to Amnesty International and others; Now Thailand's new Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is apparently ordering elements of the Royal Thai Army to cut-off food deliveries to the Lao Hmong refugees so they will be forced to return to the brutal regime in Laos that they fled and where Lao Hmong refugees have disappeared or been killed."http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGASA390022009

Smith continued: "On April 25, four Lao Hmong political refugees in Huay Nam Khao refugee detention camp, in Petchabun Province, Thailand, Mr. Soua Lor, 35, Hli Yang 25, Nka tsua Lee, 30, and Lee Pao Vang, 26, reportedly attempted to commit suicide because they did not want to be forced back to Laos where they fled persecution, and where they have a well-founded fear of persecution. These Hmong refugees apparently cut their wrists and arms in protest of Thai Prime Minister Abasit's recent new efforts to deny their families food and force them back to Laos. The refugees suffered heavy bleeding."

Thousands of Lao and Hmong civilians and political dissidents have been starved to death or killed in military attacks by the Lao government in recent years according to independent human rights organizations, journalists and others. The Stalinist regime in Laos remains a close ally of the military regimes in Burma and North Korea.http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA26/003/2007

"If the 5,500 Hmong political refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Thailand, cannot be resettled in third countries such as Australia or the United States, or granted political asylum in Thailand, these four Hmong political refugees want to die in Thailand with dignity instead going back to Laos and being tortured and die slowly by the Laos Communist Government regime, they said," stated Vaughn Vang, Director of the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council, Inc.

Vaughn Vang, of the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council continued: "There are about 5,500 Hmong asylum seekers who do not, under any circumstance, agree to return back to Laos. They have clearly stated that they are former veterans and descendent of veterans, who served with U.S. military and clandestine forces during the Vietnam War, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); Many of the Hmong refugees have been hunted, persecuted, tortured by the Lao LPDR regime. They will definitely face persecution and death if they are return to Laos."
On February 19, 2009, top officers of the Lao Armed Forces and Lao Communist Party officials, including Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Bouasieng Champapham as well as Mr. Yong Chanthalasy, and nine other Lao Officials, along with Thai military counterparts, reportedly made an official visit to the refugee detention Camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Thailand.

Vaughn Vang concluded: "The Lao officials, along with their Thai counterparts from the Thai Third Army, spoke out to insult, intimidate, and threaten the Hmong refugees with repatriation back to Laos by saying that ‘the Hmong have no other choice but repatriation.' After the Lao officials visited the Camp, Hmong refugees refused to volunteer to go back to Laos; the Thai and Lao militaries then joined hands to post signs with both the Laos Communist and Royal Thailand flags at the Camp stating that ‘the Hmong have to be repatriated to Laos by mid 2009 and the Camp will be closed by August 2009,' and they have listed a group of the Hmong Leaders to be arrested and forced to repatriate back to Laos to face persecution."

April 23rd, 2009, was reportedly the day to deliver food supplies to the 5,500 refugees in the Camp again, but elements of the Thai military, including the Royal Thai Third Army, prevented the delivery. Many of the Lao Hmong refugees, facing despair and starvation, may soon be out of food as a result of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit's new food cut-off and starvation policy toward Lao Hmong refugees according to refugee and reliable sources in Thailand. More Lao Hmong refugee suicide attempts are expected in Thailand in the coming days and weeks.

ENDS

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