Thailand Laos Samak Crisis: Open Letter By Ambassador Douglas To President Bush on Hmong
The full text of an open letter to President George Bush by U.S. Ambassador Howard Eugene Douglas, Ambassador at Large and Coordinator for Refugee Affairs(1981 th 1985), was released by the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. The letter discussed the plight of the Hmong people in Thailand and Laos and appeals to President Bush to address this important humanitarian and human rights issue.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C. August 11, 2008 - The full text of an open letter to President George Bush by U.S. Ambassador Howard Eugene Douglas, Ambassador at Large and Coordinator for Refugee Affairs( 1981 – 1985 ), was released by the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. The letter discussed the plight of the Hmong people in Thailand and Laos and appeals to President Bush to address this important humanitarian and human rights issue.
The following is the text of the Open Letter by Ambassador H. Eugene Douglas to President Bush about the Hmong refugees in Thailand:
An Open Letter to President George W. Bush
President George W. Bush The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, D.C.
You depart this week for Asia with stops in Seoul and Bangkok before arriving in Beijing for the ceremonial opening of the Olympic Games. Your visit to Bangkok recognizes the 175th Anniversary of U.S. – Thai relations. Thailand is a respected ally of the United States and the friendship between the Thai and American people is tested and strong enough to permit a candid exchange of views. In Thailand, the First Lady’s planned visit to the Mae La refugee camp near Mae Sot is timely in light of another urgent Asian refugee issue that more directly touches America’s history in Southeast Asia and the lives of many new American citizens.
Today, there are thousands of Hmong refugees still in Thailand awaiting resettlement abroad or a chance to return to their beloved Laos in safety and freedom. Recently, untold hundreds of Laotian Hmong refugees have been taken from their camps inside Thailand and forcibly returned to Laos where they face a dangerous if not fatal reception by the Laotian authorities. The Thai Army has taken part in these involuntary repatriations that are contrary to the historical tolerance and hospitality extended to refugees by the Kingdom of Thailand. Why was this done now when there are confirmed reports of Laotian armed measures against the Hmong still inside Laos? Despite denials by the Lao Government, there are sufficient foreign witnesses to substantiate that all is not well inside Laos. Numerous respected international organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have testified to the recent dangers to the Hmong within Laos itself.
Recently, the United States Congress introduced House Resolution 1273 calling on your Administration to assist the kinsmen of the same Hmong who were loyal and courageous allies of the United States during the Vietnam conflict. Today, when we are at war in defense of America’s security and in support of the values of our civilization, the honor of the United States and its people is known by how we stand with our allies in victory and in peace. There are Hmong families in the United States, many of whom are now proud American citizens, who implore you to act by directing the State Department to work with the Royal Thai Government to suspend its actions against the Hmong still in camps. The United States can assure our Thai ally that they are not alone in the care of refugees and that we will work to arrange resettlement to the United States, Australia, Canada and France and provide for their interim support while still in Thailand.
Surely, the Royal Thai Government and the United States can afford this small measure of additional compassion for the Hmong. During the Vietnam War, I served as an officer in the US Navy and know firsthand the courage and contributions made by the Hmong in support of US and allied forces. Their role is a matter of historical record. Years after the war, it was my honor to serve under President Reagan and Vice President Bush as United States Ambassador at Large and Coordinator for Refugee Affairs. I worked closely with the Royal Thai Government, many foreign governments, faith based NGOs and the United Nations to find solutions for the plight of the world’s refugees. The United States held the high ground and lead by example.
Mr. President, do the right thing and ask the Thai Government to suspend further involuntarily repatriation of the Laotian and Hmong still enjoying refuge inside Thailand. Let us show the world that despite all our many burdens, the United States does not forget those who fought and died for a common cause.
Howard Eugene Douglas
U.S. Ambassador at Large, Coordinator for Refugee Affairs ( 1981–1985 )
Texas August 4, 2008
( --end Open Letter to President Bush-- )
Anna Jones Tele. ( 202 )543-1444 Center for Public Policy Analysis 2020 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Suite #212 Washington, D.C. 20006 USA
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