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Thai government human rights double-talk

Thai government human rights double-talk

While the Thai government continues to defensively insist that measures are being taken to ensure that human rights are not violated during the mass forced repatriation of Hmong refugees to Laos, nothing could be further from the truth.

Today’s Thai TV reports the arrest of Hmong refugee leaders in Huay Nam Khao camp, Petchabun province. This was in response to the leaders refusing to cooperate in “volunteering” their groups to return to Laos. The arrest of these camp leaders is a clear attempt by the Thai military to break the will of the general populace who are resisting forced repatriation. One of the leaders, Chu Long Her, is a UNHCR-recognized refugee. Blia Pao Yang, another refugee leader, is on a Lao government blacklist and had earlier stated that he would resist forced repatriation due to legitimate fears of political persecution in Laos. Many in his group have war wounds and have been documented by the Thai military as having legitimate asylum claims.

A group of 158 UNHCR-recognized refugees held in Nong Khai jail are also at risk of forced repatriation. Back in November 2006, Thai authorities cooperated closely with Laos in a police raid targeting these UNHCR-recognized Hmong refugees, some of whom were witness to a recent jungle massacre. The group was later transferred to Nong Khai immigration jail where they have been held ever since. Then, in blatant disregard for well-respected norms of international law, the Thai-Lao border committee signed a bilateral agreement to deport these “illegal immigrants” to Laos. Ever since then, the group has been held hostage under horrible living conditions with the Lao government refusing to allow Thailand to resettle them in third countries. Many plan on taking their own lives rather than returning to Laos where they face persecution.

Since the foreign news media is not allowed access to Huay Nam Khao camp to witness the Thai military’s adherence to human rights, maybe they can watch along the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge as these 4500 Hmong residents are whooshed across to Laos during the coming hours.

ENDS

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