Hmong Joint Diaspora Statement: Communique Appeals For Solution to Thailand, Laos Refugee Crisis
An international communique and joint statement by the Hmong Diaspora community in the United States was released today in Washington, D.C., and Bangkok, Thailand. The statement was signed by 32 Hmong and Lao non-profit organizations and community leaders from across the United States to seek to stop the repatriation of some 7,000 Lao-Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, Thailand, December 17, 2008 - An international communiqué and joint statement by the Hmong Diaspora community in the United States was released today in Washington, D.C., and Bangkok, Thailand. The statement was signed by 32 Hmong and Lao non-profit organizations and community leaders from across the United States to seek to stop the repatriation of some 7,000 Lao-Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled.
The international communiqué and Joint Statement of the Hmong Diaspora community was spearheaded and signed by the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council, Lao Family Community organizations of Minnesota and Wisconsin, Lao Veterans of America and many other prominent Hmong and Lao non-profit and non-governmental organizations ( NGOs ) representing the Lao-Hmong community in the United States. Lao and Hmong organizations and leaders from across America, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, North Carolina and many other states signed the joint statement that appeals to Royal Thai government and international community regarding the plight of the suffering Laotian and Hmong people.
“The many Hmong Diaspora community organizations who have signed the Joint Statement and international communiqué are seeking to work together with the Royal Thai Government and international authorities to solve this serious refugee and human rights problem and organize a humanitarian and fact-finding mission to Thailand to address the plight of some 7,000 Hmong refugees being detained at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province and Nong Khai, Thailand,” stated Vaughn Vang, Director of the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders ( MSF ), the Lao Human Rights Council and other non-governmental organizations have issued repeated urgent action appeals and statements expressing concern about the Laos and Hmong refugee and human rights crisis in Thailand and Laos.
In June of 2008, U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy ( D-RI ), U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher ( R-CA ), U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin ( D-WI ) and U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf ( R-VA ) introduced H. Res. 1273 to seek to address the human rights and refugee crisis in Thailand and Laos facing the Laotian and Hmong people.
Vaughn Vang further stated: “The 7,000 Hmong and Lao refugees in Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province, and 159 Hmong refugees who are being held in Nong Khai Detention Center, in Thailand as well as those hiding in the jungle in Laos are our beloved family members-- mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children of the Lao and Hmong Diaspora community in the United States. The Hmong refugees crisis in Thailand and the human rights abuses being directed against the Lao Hmong people daily in Laos are directly affecting the daily lives and well-being of all Lao Hmong in the Diaspora community and in the United States; This ongoing human rights crisis is part of our daily lives, it is very difficult to function for many of those with families trapped in Laos or the refugee camps in Thailand."
“The Thai government is allowing other nationalities to settle in third countries every day, but they refused to accept Hmong political asylum seekers to settle in other country because they are Hmong,” Vang said defending the Laotian and Hmong refugees' right, under international law, to be granted political asylum and resettled abroad.
"The cosigners of the Hmong Diaspora Joint Statement and international communiqué hope to provide recommendations and solutions to policymakers and to bring about a peaceful resolution to the Hmong crisis in Thailand and Laos; We are jointly appealing for the collaboration and support of the Thai government, U.S. Embassy in Thailand, U.S Embassy in Laos and the United Nations; We, the Hmong Diaspora community leaders believe, that it would be very possible to bring a constructive resolution to the ongoing Hmong refugee crises in Thailand and Laos,” Vaughn Vang concluded.
“In the past, individuals, front organizations, and foreign governments seeking to divide the Hmong American community have wrought much confusion and tragedy,” said Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt. “Their misinformation and propaganda have made it difficult for international and U.S. policy-makers to forge a sustainable, comprehensive plan to solve the Hmong humanitarian crises in Southeast Asia.”
“The recent Hmong Diaspora Joint Statement is a bold effort, led by the U.S. - based Hmong Lao Human Rights Council to address unfortunate meddling by those with political agendas contrary to the welfare of Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers. This Statement puts the welfare of these most vulnerable individuals first. That is a major step forward in finding resolution to the humanitarian crises facing the Hmong in Thailand and Laos.”
Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights and refugee work on behalf of Hmong and Laotian refugees in Southeast Asia. She is a historian, scholar and author who writes frequently on issues regarding the Hmong people and Laos. Her highly acclaimed book Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos ( Indiana University Press ) is being honored by the Lao Hmong community across the United States this year which marks the 15th Anniversary of its publication. http://www.tragicmountains.com
“It is good to unite to prevent our families and friends, these 6500 Lao Hmong people, who are in the refugee camp in Thailand, from being forces back to Laos, where they do not want to be,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, founder and National President of the Lao Veterans of America.
“In the past the Lao Veterans of America successfully organized several key ‘fact-finding missions’ to Thailand to help the Laotian and Hmong refugees in Ban Na Pho and Wat Tham Krabok so that the United States Congress would revisit and work to help change policy by opening the door for those refugees to come and begin their new life here in the United States of America,” Wangyee Vang continued.
Colonel Wangyee Vang continued: “We appreciate the leadership of His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduyadej for his generosity towards the Laotian and Hmong refugees; and the Royal Thai Government and the people of the Kingdom of Thailand who warmly received our Lao-Hmong people into the refugee camps. We respect their generous humanitarian assistance toward our fellow refugee victims of the Vietnam War; and hope the Royal Thai government will continue to demonstrate its kind humanitarian help toward the Laotian and Hmong refugees in Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai."
Colonel Wangyee Vang stated in conclusion: "We appeal to the Royal Thai Government to open the door for UNHCR representatives and other humanitarian and non-governmental groups so that they can help extend their hands to relieve the current situation in Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai, and so that third countries will continue to open their arms to receive those refugees to relocate. I also expand my sincere thanks to the Unites States Congress for its past crucial works for bringing Laotian refugees into this country.”
“Some 7,000 Lao-Hmong political refugees in Thailand, including many women and children, are in serious and ongoing danger of forced repatriation back to the brutal and oppressive communist regime in Laos that they fled,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C.
Smith concluded: “This Joint Statement by the Lao Hmong Diaspora community seeks to address this critical problem and to appeal to the Royal Thai Government, the United States and international community to address this serious humanitarian crisis and work jointly to immediately stop the forced repatriation of Laotian and Hmong refugees and asylum seekers back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled; Clearly the Lao Hmong political refugees in Thailand and Laos who are now being persecuted want to be resettled in third countries and reunited with their families in the United States and abroad, and this is what the Hmong Diaspora Joint Statement is all about.”
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