Hmong Joint Statement Appeal Issued: Text of International Communique
The text of 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.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, Thailand, December 18, 2008 - The text of an international communiqué and joint statement by the Hmong Diaspora community in the United States was released 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. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1081995.html
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 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,” stated Vaughn Vang of the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council.
“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.”
Dr. Hamilton-Merritt continued: “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.org
“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.”
The following are excerpts from the text of the Hmong Diaspora Joint-Statement:
“Hmong Diaspora Joint-statement: To Unify and Represent the Hmong Community as a single voice in responding to the Refugee Crisis in Thailand
The end of the Vietnam War in 1975 was the beginning to a brutal Diaspora of the Hmong people from Laos. Though many Hmong families were fortunate enough to find refuge in Thailand and eventually settled into the United States ( US ), and other countries, the Hmong refugee crisis in Thailand continued to persist. In the past the Hmong American community has relied on the United Nations, Human Rights Organizations and the US in dealing with these refugee crises. However, the recent unprecedented mass forced repatriation has triggered major concern for the Hmong American Community. Despite the disturbing reports, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other international entities have not gained access to these refugees. Therefore, the Hmong American Community have come together, in order to work more effectively with all of the key players, in hopes of finding a peaceful and permanent solution to this crisis. These Hmong leaders come from over 20 states and numerous community agencies. Each member is an active community leader selected by their respective communities as the representing voice…
FORWARD: The Hmong Diaspora and the continuing Hmong refugee crisis in Thailand is a direct result of our alliance with the United States during the Vietnam War era.
During the Vietnam War, the Hmong were recruited and armed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency ( CIA ). The Hmong were trained by the Thai military. The Hmong served honorably and courageously against the spread of communism into our homelands and in defense for the United States under three U.S. Strong administrations. During the war, our ground forces conducted many heroic and successful air and ground operations against the communist North Vietnamese army. The Hmong also rescued American pilots in Northern Laos during the war. Our soldiers protected the US air force High tech navigation in Northern Laos that provided critical intelligence for the US air force in guiding their air attacks against enemy targets.
Furthermore, the Thai government provided military advisory and technical support to Hmong guerilla forces in Laos. With this combined effort, the Hmong fought back the North Vietnamese soldiers to a standstill in Northern Laos for more than 15 years. This also contributed largely to the effort that prevented communist expansion towards Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia. In 1975, the Royal Lao government was overthrown by the Communist Pathet Lao and the invading North Vietnamese. This oppressive communist regime continues to rule Laos today. As a result, hundreds of thousands of our people fled this oppressed regime and sought refuge in Thailand. Due to the compassion of the Thai King, the Royal Thai government, and the Thai citizens, many of our people were granted refuge and eventually resettled in third countries, such as the United States.
Unfortunately, many of our Hmong soldiers and their families could not escape the communist forces seeking to destroy them for their alliance with the United States. These people had no choice but to flee to the jungle to hide from the joint military operations of forces from both Vietnam and Laos. As the ongoing military attacks continue against Hmong civilians, those seeking life and safety continue to flee to Thailand.
Currently over 7,000 Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers have fled Laos and sought refuge at a makeshift camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Phetchabun Province, Thailand and other places. This makeshift camp has not protected our Hmong people. The United Nations HCR and other NGO's have and continually, are denied access to the office of the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees ( UNHCR ) and other NGOs to provide screening to the refugees for resettlement to third countries.
Over the years, there have been several attempts by individual Diaspora leaders to respond to the current situations in Thailand, some more successful than others. In their individual journeys, these leaders found themselves faced with similar obstacles that sent each of them back to the drawing board. The first is that in their individual attempts, those who have opposed their missions have accused the Hmong Diaspora community in the US of being un-unified. With each individual coming forth as a leader representing the Hmong community, the international communities and agencies received conflicting messages as to who truly represented the Hmong community. The trust appeared empty within the Hmong communities and so subsequently with the international communities as well. There were too many individual missions occurring and not one representing the potential to offer a promising resolution.
The second obstacle lies in lack of information and facts. There are yet so many unanswered questions as to the current situation regarding the refugees in Thailand. What is the current situation? What is the position of the Thai government regarding these refugees? What is the real problem? And once we know what the problem truly is, what is the cause of the problem? What solutions if any were offered to the situation, and what were the outcomes? There are many conflicting reports received from Thai authorities versus the reports received from the refugee communities in regards to the current situation. Before the Hmong Diaspora Leaders in the US can help find a solution to any problems, we must first understand what the problem truly is and separate fact from rumor.
DECLARATION OF UNITY:
The aforementioned challenges have in the past, proved to be obstacles for Hmong leaders in responding to the current refugee situation in Thailand. The joint statement of the Hmong leaders is a direct answer to those challenges. This document is the official recognition of unity for the Hmong leaders in the U.S. in responding to the refugee conflicts in Thailand. We are no longer individual Hmong leaders on individual missions. In this collaboration, Hmong leaders are creating a single voice. With this statement, we fully intend to bridge the trust and communication gap, not only within the Hmong communities, but in our relations with the international communities. The process of this unification has been long and challenging, as distance and struggles have separated us. However, Hmong leaders have bypassed the challenges and have physically gathered together to make this statement and mission a possibility. Today, we place our trust in each other, our passion in our people, and our unrelenting hope into the international communities that will join efforts with us in our mission to find peace for our brethren.
The Hmong Diaspora Joint-statement is not only an answer to the challenge of unity, but it also answers to the challenge of obtaining information. The Hmong Diaspora Joint-statement also declares the first mission of this unity. Since the lack of information and validation of reports has been an obstacle in finding a resolution for the refugees in Thailand, the joint statement is also a joint agreement to embark on a fact gathering and validation mission. We, the Hmong Diaspora Leaders understand that without accurate information, we cannot find a effective solution. Therefore, we, the Hmong Diaspora Leaders, strongly believe that the best and most efficient way to gather information is to send a fact finding delegation to Thailand. The goals for this mission are as follows:
• Gather, record, and document facts surrounding and directly related to the refugee situation in Thailand.
• Create a comprehensive report of findings.
• Build trust and communication with Thai government.
• Strengthen trust and communication with refugees.
• Bridge the trust and communication gap between Thai authorities and refugees.
• Work alongside like the UNHCR, European Union and other international communities.
Our hopes are that upon discovering the facts, we pledge to work with all the key players in resolving the situation in Thailand in finding a permanent solution in working with this refugee community.
To achieve this mission, the Hmong Diaspora Leaders will select a delegation team, comprising of members who represent the Hmong communities in major regions. In our mission, we openly invite and advocate for the support and participation of US Congressional Members, International Embassies, and International Communities.
With the anticipated collaboration and support from the Thai government, U.S. Embassy, UNHCR, and international communities, we believe it would be possible to bring a constructive resolution to this ongoing Hmong refugee crisis in Thailand.
We the undersigned have agreed to work collectively with all the key organizations and entities in order to find a peaceful and permanent solution to this refugee crisis in Thailand.
Signed by Over 32 Hmong, Lao Organizations and Community Leaders including the:
Lao Human Rights Council, Hmong 18 Council, Inc., Hmong 18 Council of Wisconsin, Lao Family Community of Minnesota, Lao Family Community of Wisconsin, Lao Family Community of California, Lao Veterans of Wisconsin, Lao Veterans of America as well as Hmong Representatives from the states of California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Washington State, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Florida, and others.
( --end text Joint Statement--- )
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