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Hmong Refugee Crisis in Thailand, Laos Deepens

Troops Deploy As Hmong Refugees Crisis in Thailand, Laos Deepens

Washington, D.C., and Bangkok, Thailand, November 17, 2009

Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA)

Thailand's Army Commander, General Anupong Paochinda, as well as Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, have mobilized over 320 heavily-armed troops to the Lao Hmong refugee camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Thailand, and are reportedly preparing for the potential mass forced repatriation of the refugees prior to the start of the Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games) in Laos. The forthcoming SEA Games, slated to begin in December, have been darkened by the intervention by the Lao army and secret police in Vientiane and elsewhere in Laos who, along with special units of the Vietnam Peoples Army (VPA), have reportedly arrested, detained or imprisoned over 1176 Laotians this month.

"Lao Hmong refugees in the refugee camp at Huay Nam Khao have been told by Thai military officials and soldier that they must volunteer to return to Laos or face mass forced repatriation between November 17-30, 2009," said Vaughn Vang of the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council, Inc. (LHHRC) in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “Many of the Lao Hmong refugees escaped from human rights violations, persecution and military attacks by the Lao Army in Laos in recent years.”

Mr. Vang stated further: "Three hundred and twenty-eight more heavily armed Thai army soldiers and Ministry of Interior troops have been sent to the camp and are now telling the Lao Hmong refugees that they will all be sent back to Laos by force in the coming days and weeks this November; in one case, just last week, some of the Thai soldiers threatened, robbed and stole the personal possessions of six Lao Hmong refugee families, including their jewelry, radios, personal valuables and what little money they had left. The Thai soldiers said the Lao Hmong families will all be forced to return to Laos this month, in November, and would not be needing any of their personal items, money or valuables, in Laos once the Lao army had gotten finished with them."

In recent weeks, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) has again intervened in Laos with more military and security forces, boosting troop levels and military operations and attacks, to seek to prop up the faltering Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) regime that has been besieged by internal opposition to its communist politburo and one-party military rule.

"The tragic and disastrous move by Prime Minister Abhisit, General Anupong Paochinda, and MOI Minister Chavarat Charnvirakulironically comes as senior Members of the U.S. Congress, and policymakers in Washington, D.C. have once again made high-level appeals to His Majesty, Bhumibol Adulayadej,The King of Thailand, to grant asylum in Thailand to the over 5,000 Lao Hmong political refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao, and Nong Khai, Thailand," said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C.

"Recent appeals, have again been made to His Majesty, Bhumibol Adulayadej, the King of Thailand, from Washington, D.C., for his compassionate help and assistance to save the over 5,000 Lao Hmong political refugees from being forcibly returned to Laos so that the Laotian refugees can be screened by the United Nations, and UNHCR , and resettled in third countries that have agreed to sponsor them including New Zealand, France, Canada, Australia and others.," Smith said.

Smith explained further: "Unfortunately, Thai Army Chief-of-Staff General Anupong Paochindaand, Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and MOI Chief Chavarat Charnvirakulhave seem determined to preside over a humanitarian and policy catastrophe regarding their incomprehensible determination, in the face of an international humanitarian outcry by human rights, refugee organizations and Members of the U.S. Congress, to force the Lao Hmong political refugees in Thailand back to Laos in the coming weeks prior to the SEA Games."

Smith observed: "Under the apparent orders of General Anupong Paochinda and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva elements of the Royal Thai Third Army and special army units have mobilized some 328 troops to the Lao Hmong refugee camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Thailand, and are reportedly preparing for the potential mass forced repatriation of the refugees prior to the start of the Southeast Asia Games in Laos in December. Thailand's Minister of Interior (MOI)Chavarat Charnvirakul and Deputy Minister of Interior Boonchong Wongtrairat also appear to be responsible for the latest efforts to seek to force Lao Hmong refugees from Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai back to Laos prior to the start of the SEA games."

“The SEA Games have already been overshadowed by mass arrests and military intervention by Lao army and secret police units in Vientiane and elsewhere in Laos who, along with special units of the Vietnam Peoples Army (VPA), have arrested or imprisoned over 1100 Laotians this month, including students, political and religious dissidents, activists and ordinary Laotian and Hmong citizens,” Smith concluded.

According to independent journalists and human rights organizations, including the LHHRC, Amnesty International and others, the Lao Army and VPA are also engaged in military attacks and atrocities against Laotian and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissident groups at Phou Bia Mountain, Phou Da Phao, Xieng Khouang Province, Vientiane Province, Luang Prabang Province, Khammoune Province and elsewhere in Laos.


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