Thailand Samak Crisis: 13 Hmong Leaders Disappear, Thousands More Fear Laos
In the U.S. Congress, pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej for his deployment of elements of the Thai Third Army in defiance of recent legislative and personal appeals to His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand. U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and others have cosponsored and introduced legislation earlier this month, appealing to the King of Thailand to halt the repatriation of Hmong refugees in Thailand back to Laos.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Thirteen Hmong refugee camp leaders and hundreds of refugees have disappeared after the Thai Third Army, operating under apparent orders from Prime Minister Samak, violently broke up a peaceful ‘March to Freedom’ from Huay Nam Khao refugee camp to Bangkok on June 20. Some 5,400 refugees began walking 150 miles to Bangkok in protest of Thai military bans on UNHCR access to Huay Nam Khao camp. Thousands more Hmong refugees fear a potential second round of forced repatriation in the coming days and weeks.
By June 22, the Thai military had forcibly repatriated over 800 Hmong refugees to Laos. Lao officials state the number at some 830 refugees, while the UNHCR reported to The Nation, Bangkok newspaper, that some 1,000 had been ‘dumped’ north of Vientiane by joint Thai and Lao military forces.
“More Hmong in Thailand now fear a second round of deporation to Laos,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. “Thirteen of the Hmong camp leaders who helped to lead the protest march and provide elected leadership to the Hmong refugees in Ban Huay Nam Khao refugee camp have disappeared after being arrested by Thai military officials.”
“We have information that the Thai government and military are aiming and planning to have a total of 1000 additional Hmong refugees to be deported to Laos all at one time in the coming days or weeks. Currently they are preparing to have 835 Hmong refugees ready to be deported and are in the process of capturing more of the leaders of the Hmong refugees in the Huay Nam Khao camp to be forcibly repatriated to Laos,” stated Vaughn Vang, Executive Director of the Lao Human Rights Council in Greenbay, Wisconsin and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Doctors Without Borders ( MSF ), the only international aid group allowed into the camp, reports that over 1,000 Hmong have not returned to Huay Nam Khao refugee camp. Of those still missing, some 600 – 800 are thought to be held by the Thai military, including the 13 camp leaders of the Hmong refugees. The last know location of these leaders was an open field by Khek Noi, Khao Kho district, Thailand on June 21, where several hundred were placed on Thai military busses, many ending up in Laos.
“The 13 Hmong camp leaders, who have disappeared, were elected by some 8,000 Laotian and Hmong refugees and asylum seekers at the Ban Huay Nam Khao detention center in Phetchabun Province, Thailand, and were helping to lead the peaceful march to the United Nations High Commissioner ( UNHCR ) offices in Bangkok where the Hmong sought to appeal to for political asylum and the salvation of His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, so they would not be sent back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled,” Smith continued.
Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders ( Medecins Sans Frontiers, MSF ), Members of the U.S. Congress, and others have issued urgent new appeals and statements in recent hours opposing the repatriation of Hmong refugees from Ban Huay Nam Khao detention camp, Phetchabun Province and Nong Khai, Thailand back to Laos.
In the U.S. Congress, pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej for his deployment of elements of the Thai Third Army in defiance of recent legislative appeals to His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand and the Royal Thai government to stop the forced repatriation and grant nearly 8,000 Lao Hmong refugees sanctuary in Thailand until they can be resettled in third countries that have previously agreed to accept them.
“Members of the U.S. Congress have appealed, with the introduction of H. Res. 1273, for the protection of the 8,000 Hmong refugees, to the Royal Monarchy of Thailand in the face of mounting pressure and attacks on the Hmong refugees in Thailand, including brutal Third Army dog attacks and forced repatriation that occurred just hours before Prime Minister Samak’s visit to Laos earlier in the year,” Smith concluded.
U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy ( D-RI ), Congressman Dana Rohrabacher ( R-CA ), Congressman Ron Kind ( D-WI ), Congressman Jim Costa ( D-CA ), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin ( D-WI ) and others have cosponsored and introduced legislation earlier this month, appealing to the King of Thailand and the Royal Thai government to halt the repatriation of Hmong refugees in Thailand back to Laos.
The legislation, H. Res. 1273, also calls upon the Lao government to cease its military attacks and egregious human right violation currently being directed against the Hmong people in Laos and release Laotian political prisoners, including the October 1999 Lao student democracy demonstrators.
Contact: Anna Jones or Mr. Philip Smith
Center for Public Policy Analysis 2020 Pennsylvania Ave. , N.W. Suite #212 Washington, D.C. 20006 Tele. ( 202 ) 543-1444 Fax: ( 202 ) 207-9871
This story was released on 2008-06-26. Please make sure to visit the official company or organization web site to learn more about the original release date. See our disclaimer for additional information.