UNHCR-recognized refugees forced back to Laos<
Thais to force more UNHCR-recognized refugees back to Laos
The Thai military has announced its plans to deport the remaining 400 Hmong refugees back to Laos. The majority of them are UNHCR-recognized refugees living in the Lop Buri and Bangkok areas. These forced deportations are planned to take place today and tomorrow under the noses of the UNHCR and foreign diplomatic community. The Thai government continues to blatantly defy well-respected norms of international refugee law by continuing to do this. Just yesterday, the Thai military forced back a group of 158 UNHCR-recognized refugees from Nong Khai jail. The group is reportedly being held at Lom Sat immigration jail in Vientiane.
On Monday, just before the group was forced back to Laos, they were encouraged to return by the U.S., Australian, Canadian and Nederland governments who had told the group they had arranged to have them resettled in third countries shortly after returning to Laos. The group was still unwilling to return to Laos so the Thai military raided the Nong Khai immigration jail with a force of 500 soldiers dragging the refugees onto deportation vehicles. The refugees were outnumbered 4 soldiers to each refugee so were powerless to resist.
Meanwhile, reports of abuse are circulating among some of the recent returnees to Laos, including ill-treatment of a former UNHCR-recognized refugee, Chue Long Her, along with others who were forced back to Laos yesterday by Thai authorities. They were part of a group of 4000 refugees forced back from Huay Nam Khao camp, Petchabun province. A group of 34 leaders in the camp were arrested by the Thai military and reportedly stun guns were used to subdue them as the leaders resisted deportation attempts. They are all on a Lao government political blacklist which was handed down to the Thais earlier this year - another breach in well-respected norms of international refugee law.
Currently, these leaders are being held in Borikhamsai province with no access to third party monitoring.