Thai soldiers and Ministry of Interior officials (MOI) at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province, Thailand have told Hmong refugees that if no one volunteers to return to Laos in the current month of October, then the military will again begin forcing the Hmong political refugees back to Laos.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, Thailand, October 16, 2008-- Thai soldiers and Ministry of Interior officials ( MOI ) at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province, Thailand have told Hmong refugees that if no one volunteers to return to Laos in the current month of October, then the military will again begin forcing the Hmong political refugees back to Laos.
Thai solders have announced that next month, November, 2008, the next Hmong refugees to be forced back to Laos, will be those Hmong who took part in the “march to freedom” earlier this year in protest against their threatened forced repatriation to the authoritarian military regime in Laos that they fled.
“Reliable sources in Thailand indicate that a major new effort and strategy appears to be underway by some renegade elements of the Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior to restart the forced repatriation of thousands of Hmong and Laotian political refugees to Laos over the next several months,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C.
Smith continued: “Now, many Hmong participants in the earlier protest march from Ban Huay Nam Khao who peacefully rallied against being forced back to Laos are currently being threatened and intimidated in many cases in the refugee camp by Thai officials.” http://media-newswire.com/release_1068048.html
“This protest march from Ban Huay Nam Khao was called by the Hmong refugees the "marching to freedom,’" stated Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, historian, human rights and refugee advocate.
Dr. Hamilton-Merritt continued: “At the time, the Hmong refugees in Huay Nam Khao reportedly broke out of the razor wire surrounding the camp and tried to walk to Bangkok to reach the UNHCR building to seek asylum; Unfortunately, many of the "marching to freedom" event people were ambushed and never made it to Bangkok, but instead over one-thousand Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers from the peaceful protest march were forced back to Laos.”
“According to reports from the refugees and family members, as well as remarks by Thai military authorities in the camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao, the second group to be forced back in the coming months, as soon as November, will be the remaining Hmong refugees, which is several thousand civilians who have been running and hiding for years form the military forces of Hanoi and the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) regime,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.
“These Lao Hmong political refugees finally managed to get out of Laos and are now detained in Ban Huay Nam Khao; If they are return to Laos, they will be turned over to the LPDR military and security force authorities who sought to kill them for decades and who have killed and imprisoned hundreds of those recently forced back to Laos earlier this year,” Vaughn Vang continued.
“The Lao military continues its horrible attacks against Laotian and Hmong civilians and religious and political dissident groups hiding in the jungles and mountains who are being starved to death,” Vaughn Vang said.
“Many innocent Hmong and Laotian civilians are being starved to death by the Lao military forces currently attacking them, including women and children; hundreds are very ill with no medicine or humanitarian assistance available and many Hmong civilians were killed or wounded from the recent LPDR government attacks, especially in the Phou Bia and Phou Tha Pao areas of Laos,” Vaughn Vang concluded.
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