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Seven Hmong Families Forced to Laos Amid Tear Gas

Seven Hmong Families Forced to Laos Amid Tear Gas

Washington, D.C. and Nong Khai, Thailand, August 12, 2009 Contact: Maria Gomez, DCD
info@centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org
Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org United States Senator Jim Webb, of Virginia, is visiting Burma, Thailand, Laos and Southeast Asia this week and, like U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, is expected to seek to urge the Thai military to stop forcing Laotian and Hmong refugees back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled.

Prior to Senator Webb's visit to Southeast Asia, a senior level Lao communist official visited Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand seeking to persuade them to return to Laos voluntarily, which they refused. In response to the refusal of the Lao Hmong go back to Laos, elements of the Royal Thai Third Army and Thai Ministry of the Interior are reportedly using electric tazer-like guns, electric cattle prods and severe beatings to seek to "volunteer" and force Lao Hmong refugees and asylum seekers at Ban Huay Nam Khao refugee camp in Thailand.

The visit of the Lao communist official to the camp follows discussions in Thailand by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit about the Laos, Hmong refugee crisis.

"During the last four months, the Thai army, present in the camp, has introduced increasingly restrictive measures with the aim of pressuring the Hmong into dropping their demands for refugee status and returning ‘voluntarily' to Laos. The refugees talk of arbitrary arrests and cases of forced repatriation," Doctors Without Borders, Médecins Sans Frontières ( MSF ) stated in a press release and report issued on May 20, 2009. http://doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=3627&cat=press-release
"Unfortunately, now, with adapted and cruel tactics and strategies, elements of the Royal Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior troops have launched a new bloody and brutal campaign to force Hmong refugees from Thailand to Laos," said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C. "Twenty-four Lao Hmong political refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao were brutally attacked in recent days, and forcibly repatriated back to Laos, by Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior troops who used electric tazer-like guns, electric cattle prods and tear gas against the refugees who spoke out in opposition to their repatriation to Laos after the visit of Lao Communist official Buaxieng Champaphan to the refugee camp."

"Indeed, sadly, Twenty four (24) Lao Hmong political refugees were forced back to Laos in recent days. Thai and Lao officials are also reportedly seeking to openly and secretly bribe, and buy off key, Hmong clan and group leaders in the camp with promises of large amounts of cash, millions in Thai Baht and Lao Kip currency, to return to Laos if they will also agree to 'volunteer' significant numbers of their fellow Hmong refugees at Huay Nam Khao to return to Laos against their will, or by force if necessary," Smith said.

Smith concluded: "Following MSF's, Doctors Without Borders,' protest withdrawal from the Hmong camp in May, 2009, because of forced repatriation, there clearly appears to be a renewed and gruesome bloody carrot, and bloody stick, policy that has emerged in Thailand this month, in August, against the Lao Hmong refugees, especially following the visit to the camp of Lao communist officials, including Buaxieng Champaphan. Tear gas, electric cattle prods, electric tazer-like guns and millions in blood money bribes are now reportedly being used in the Lao Hmong camp as well as other stepped-up coercive measures by elements of the Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior in order to force the refugees to return to Laos against their will as bogus volunteers; Hmong children of the seven families were severely beaten by the Thai military guards and Ministry of the Interior troops, to force them on the trucks back to Laos."

"Direct sources report that seven (7) Hmong refugee families at Ban Huay Nam Khao camp have courageously and openly opposed Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) Communist official Buaxieng Champaphan's attempt to persuade these refugees to return to Laos during a recent visit on August 7, 2009, and refused to be repatriated," said Vaughn Vang, Executive Director of the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council of Green Bay, Wisconsin

Vaughn Vang stated further: "The Lao communist official Buaxieng declared that all Hmong in-hiding and asylum seekers from the jungle of Laos are uncivilized and do not know the laws; therefore, he plans to place these people in a 're-education camp' located in Laos and named Borikhamxai Military Camp."

"Sadly, following the LPDR official's remarks and visit to the Hmong camp, over thirty (30) Thai soldiers sprayed tear gas and other toxic chemical gases onto these seven families, totaling 24 individuals, and used electric guns and cattle prods to taser and electrocute them. All seven men were brutally beaten, severely bleeding, and carried, almost lifeless, onto military trucks driven by the Thai soldiers," Vang continued. "Hmong women and children (of the Hmong refugee men who refused to return to Laos) were also captured and carried like animals onto these military trucks. All seven men and their families, with their eyes blindfolded and their mouths covered, were forced repatriated directly to Laos.," said Vang.

Vang concluded: "The Hmong refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao Camp are appealing to the United States, United Nations, international human rights and humanitarian organizations, and world community to stop the Thai government's forced repatriation policy against the 4,700 remaining Lao Hmong refugees. They do not want to return to the Stalinist regime in Laos; We are horrified that the Lao government is continuing to hunt and kill many innocent Laotian and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissidents in Laos; therefore, many of these Lao Hmong refugees will likely face political and religious persecution, torture, and death once they arrive in Laos."

ENDS

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