Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Economist

Laotian Hmong refugees in Thailand: Shown the door

Its hospitality exhausted, Thailand sends refugees back to an uncertain future

A RELATIVELY peaceful haven in a bad neighbourhood, Thailand has taken in hordes of South-East Asians fleeing war, persecution and poverty. But the welcome is wearing thin. This week the Thai army loaded 4,351 ethnic Hmong onto lorries and drove them to the border with Laos, whence they had fled. None was allowed access to United Nations officials, who might have classified them as refugees deserving protection and eventual resettlement. Yet Thai officials called their eviction “voluntary”.

Recruited by the CIA to fight in the 1960s, the Hmong were among the losers in the Vietnam war. Hundreds of thousands fled Laos after the Communist victory in 1975 and eventually moved to America. In 2004 America agreed to take in another 14,000 or so Hmong who had been staying at a Thai temple. Those bundled back to Laos this week had drifted to another makeshift camp in Phetchabun province, hoping to claim international asylum. A separate group of 158 refugees were deported from a detention centre on the border.
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A barrage of American, EU and UN criticism failed to stop the expulsion. António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said the repatriation would “set a very grave international example”. Human-rights groups say the Hmong may face persecution in Laos and that their forced return violates international law. Those linked to ragtag Hmong rebels in remote mountain areas are deemed particularly vulnerable.

Laos has insisted that all who return will be resettled peacefully. It denies discriminating against the Hmong, one of dozens of minorities in a poor, landlocked country. But Thailand’s refusal to grant the UNHCR access to the camp makes it unknowable how many had genuine fears of persecution and how many were merely economic migrants.

Thailand’s prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, came to power a year ago promising to restore the rule of law. That pledge does not seem to extend to refugees. Last January the Thai army was revealed to have pushed back hundreds of Rohingya Muslim boat people from Myanmar who then drowned or went missing at sea.

For Hmong insurgents in Laos, relief may ultimately come from California, from where an exiled former leader, Vang Pao, occasionally plots armed revolution at home. Now 80, Vang Pao said recently that he wants to go home to make peace with his Communist foes. Nearly 35 years after the fall of Saigon, America’s Indochina war is not over yet.


Here is a media review for 28/12 - 29/12 courtesy of William Fortier.

Thailand completes Hmong Evictions -12/29/09

Hmong Arrive in Laos After Forced Repatriation
BBC News – 12/29/09

UN: Thai Hmong Refugee Deportation Breaches Law
AFP – 12/29/09

UN Says Thailand Breaches Law Deporting Hmong Refugees
Asia One News – 12/29/09

Thai Troops Deport 4,000 Hmong to Laos
Journal Gazette Times-Courier 12/28/09

Repatriation Raises Fears for Hmong in Minnesota – 12/29/09

Thai Troops Raid Camp, Deport 4,000 Hmong
Post Bulletin – 12/28/09

Nations Urge Thailand to Stop Repatriating Hmong to Laos
The Wall Street Journal – 12/29/09

Thailand Begins to Return 4,000 Hmong Asylum-Seekers to Laos
The Washington Post – 12/29/09

Thailand Sends 4,000 Hmong to Laos
CBC News – 12/29/09

Laos Refugee Crisis: Thailand’s General Anupong Paochinda, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Denounced
Online PR News – 12/28/09

Local Hmong Leaders Concerned about Refugees in Thailand
MPR News – 12/28/09

Thailand Deports Thousands of Hmong Refugees
The Washington Post – 12/28/09

Nations Urge Thailand to Stop Repatrieating Hmong to Laos (Has Slideshow with 11 Pictures)
The Wall Street Jounal – 12/29/09

Scars that Remain After 40 Years for the Hmong Who Fought in Vietnam
Times on Line – 12/29/09

US Funding for Thailand During Hmong Crisis (from 12/27/09)
Business.scoop - 12/29/09

Thai Troops Deport 4,000 Hmong to Laos – 12/28/09

Thai Army Rounds Up Ethnic Hmong Asylum-Seekers
Raido Australia News – 12/28/09

Thailand Repatriates the Hmong to Laos
New Tang Dynasty Television - 12/28/09

The Peace Plan and Proposal fro Laos National Reconciliation by the International Lao Council for Reconciliation, Inc
Online PR News – 12/28/09

Thailand Begins Deportation of More than 4,000 Hmong Asylum seekers – 12/28/09

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thailand says Hmong repatriation imminent (New Reuters article)

Original article can be found here:

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's repatriation of thousands of ethnic Hmong asylum-seekers to Laos was imminent despite international objections that they could face persecution back home, a senior army officer said on Sunday.

About 5,000 soldiers, policemen and civil servants were being assigned to carry out the repatriation of the Hmong at a refugee camp in Huay Nam Khao in Phetchabun province, 300 km (186 miles) north of Bangkok, Colonel Thana Charuvat said.

"We will start the operation as soon as we get the final instruction and when everything is ready. That includes mobilizing enough manpower to carry it out, otherwise it may encourage resistance," Thana told Reuters.

"A show of sufficient force on our part is essential to deter resistance, but we have no intention to use force. Our men are armed with shields and batons. They carry no guns or tear gas out of concern for the safety of women and children," he said.

Most of the 4,400 Hmong facing repatriation have settled at Huay Nam Khao since 2004 to seek political asylum, saying they would be persecuted by Laos's communist government if they return.

Over 1,000 of them are men over 15 who could put up resistance to the forced repatriation, according to Colonel Thana, a senior officer charged with running the camp.

"We need to meet the obligation we have made with Laos, and hope that we don't have to postpone it again. Laos has given repeated public guarantees of full safety for the returnees," he said.


Known as America's "forgotten allies," Hmong were recruited by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to fight alongside U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.

When the communists took power in 1975, the Hmong exodus began. Tens of thousands have since been resettled in the U.S.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday sought to allay fears about their forced repatriation, saying his government would ensure it took place in a transparent way "without chaos and in accordance with human rights principles."

Thailand regards the ethnic minority group at Huay Nam Khao as illegal economic migrants and has come under fire for denying the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) access to the camp.

Colonel Thana said the media was denied access to the Hmong prior to the repatriation out of official concern they might resort to stunts to draw public attention to their status.

"This is to discourage the Hmong from resorting to possible self-inflicted physical abuses to attract public attention," he said.

Officials at the camp said about 100 buses and trucks would be needed to move the Hmong from Huay Nam Khao to the Thai-Lao border at Nong Khai opposite Lao capital Vientiane.

UNHCR, diplomats and rights groups believe some of the Hmong could qualify for refugee status if a screening process were allowed to take place.

Thailand fears that by facilitating their resettlement in a third country, it could create a "pull factor" that encourages more illegal migrants.

Colonel Thana questioned the sincerity expressed by third countries about accepting the refugees.

"If other countries really want to accept these refugees, they would have been resettled a long time ago," he said.

The U.S. State Department expressed concern on Thursday about reports of forced repatriation, noting that in the past, the Thai government had said many Hmong were in need of protection.

"Forced returns of persons entitled to protection is inconsistent with international practice and Thailand's long history of protection of refugees," acting spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

UNHCR said Thailand had "the responsibility and international obligation" to ensure those in need of protection in their native countries were returned "only on a voluntary basis."

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

European Parliament Calls on Thai Authorities to Release 158 Hmong Refugees

Extracted from: Human rights: China, Nicaragua, Laos, and Vietnam (European Parliament Press Release, 26 November 2009)


MEPs welcome the recent ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights by the Laotian Government. Press release 20091126IPR65386 - 2/2 The resolution repeats the demand for the immediate release of the leaders of the "Student Movement of 26 October 1999" and of all those arrested during the attempted peaceful demonstrations on 2 November 2009. Parliament also calls on the Thai authorities to release 158 Lao Hmong refugees currently in detention and allow them to resettle in Thailand or in the United States, Canada, theNetherlands or Australia, which have already agreed to take them in.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Troops Deploy As Hmong Refugees Crisis in Thailand, Laos Deepens

Center for Public Policy Analysis, November 17, 2009

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.

Sourced from: Scoop

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Taken directly from Hmong International Human Rights Watch:

The United Nations has publicly praised Laos for its recent ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a major UN human rights treaty. Serge Verniau, UN Resident Coordinator in Laos, stated “This is a significant moment in the evolution of the country’s commitment with the promotion and protection of human rights and the UN Country team stands ready to support the Government in the realization of these conventions.”
Even the Lao state-controlled media boasts to have “taken a huge stride in the advancement of the international and national rule of law” by ratifying the treaty.

Yet, at the very same time, the Lao government continues to hold a group of 158 UNHCR-recognized Hmong refugees hostage. These refugees fled political persecution in Laos but have been held in an overcrowded jail in Nong Khai, Thailand for the past 3 years, due to pressure from the Lao government who is blackmailing Thailand to repatriate the group.

On two separate occasions the Thai government had agreed to allow these refugees resettlement in third countries but due to a huge amount of pressure from the Lao government backed off. The refugees, mainly women and children, continue to be held under horrible cramped unsanitary living conditions due to this continuing pressure from the Lao side.

Back on November 17, 2006, the Lao government had closely coordinated with Thai police in Bangkok orchestrating a police raid targeting this group of UNHCR-recognized refugees. They were later transferred to Nong Khai immigration jail where they have lived ever since.

The group targeted includes witnesses of an April 2006 jungle massacre in which Lao troops reportedly killed 26 Hmong civilians. This is a very delicate matter with the Lao government who continues to deny that such attacks take place. This is due to the fact that these jungle Hmong are remnants of the CIA’s secret army who fought against the Lao communists during the Vietnam War.

On December 19, 2006, the Lao and Thai governments signed a bi-lateral agreement to deport these Hmong refugees back to Laos. Although this would be in clear violation of international refugee law this is what the Lao government continually uses to justify their return to Laos, and that no third-party interfere in the matter.

I think this line taken from one of Amnesty International’s annual reports sums up the situation best:

“Intergovernmental organizations such as the UN are the sum of their member states. Decisions reflect the will of governments. With few exceptions, governments act on the basis of their perceived economic, political or security interests, often at the expense of their human rights treaty obligations. Yet governments undertake these obligations freely, and governments must be held to account for their actions in their own country and on the international stage.”

How can the UN praise Laos for signing this treaty while at the same time their government is holding 158 UN refugees hostage?

Joe Davy
Hmong Advocate, Chicago