Thailand, Laos Crisis: Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Deploys Troops Against Hmong
"Why isn't the international community horrified over the forced repatriation of Hmong political refugees to a regime with a history of cruelty toward the Hmong who fought against communist forces in their homeland of Laos ?" questioned Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Bangkok, Thailand, and Washington, D.C., January 1, 2009 - Internal Security Operations Command ( ISOC ) of Thailand, elements of the Royal Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior ( MOI ) security forces, at the reported direct order of new Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, and Thai Army Chief Anupong Paochinda, are making secret New Year preparations for the mass forced repatriation of Hmong refugees to Laos. The Thai leaders are deploying a new battalion of some 600 special troops who are threatening to attack and burn a Hmong refugee camp in Thailand’s Phetchabun Province to the ground if the Hmong asylum seekers do not immediately volunteer to return to Laos.
“These ominous and unfortunate events directed at Hmong refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand by Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva and General Anupong Paochinda are in apparent preparation for the new Thai Prime Minister’s upcoming trip to Laos this month,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C.
“On December 30, an additional battalion of 600 Royal Thai 3rd Army soldiers, reinforced by Ministry of Interior ( MOI ) forces and paramilitary troops and rangers, was secretly mobilized and surrounded Hmong political refugees at the detention center at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Phetchabun Provice, Thailand,” Smith said.
“The new Thai forces, many equipped with body-armor and riot gear helmets and face masks, have set up tents around the perimeter of the refugee detention center and are engaged in military exercises utilizing their equipment in an apparent plan to intimidate and force Hmong refugees to return to Laos in the coming weeks and months,” stated Vaughn Vang of the Lao Human Rights Council.
Vang continued: “In the short term, the Thai soldiers and officials are preparing to force a group of about 2,000 Hmong refugees at the camp back to Laos, they are also threatening to burn the refugee camp to the ground unless the Hmong ‘volunteer’ to return “We are also concerned that the Thai military is planning to send at least 18 Hmong refugee families back to Laos who were forced to sign papers to ‘volunteer’.” http://media-newswire.com/release_1082349.html
At meetings held on December 26, 2008, by Thai officials with Hmong refugee leaders in the camp, Thai authorities threatened to set the entire camp ablaze and hold the Hmong refugees responsible for the threatened forthcoming fire, unless many more Hmong “volunteered” to return to Laos.
“Many in the U.S. Congress and Washington, D.C., including international human rights and humanitarian organizations, are concerned that elements of the Thai military and MOI, at the apparent orders of Prime Minister Abhisit and General Anupong, are preparing to force many Hmong refugees and asylum seekers back to Laos in the coming days and weeks; Thai Army and MOI Commanders are currently threatening to burn the camp to the ground, or attack the refugees with their troops, and blame the Hmong victims for the violence that is apparently forthcoming from Thai officials and their newly deployed soldiers,” Philip Smith continued.
“Thailand’s new Prime Minister Abhisit and General Anupong should respect and work to help implement the appeals made by the U.S. Congress, in H. Res. 1273 and numerous Senate and House letters, to His Majesty the King of Thailand and the Royal Thai Government, to grant asylum to the Hmong refugees until they can be resettled in third countries such as Australia, France and Canada,” Smith concluded.
The U.S. Congress in expressing its concern about the human rights and refugee crisis in Laos and Thailand, introduced H.Res. 1273, which appeals to Thailand to immediately halt the repatriation of Laotian and Hmong refugees back to Laos and allow the refugees to be resettle in other countries H.Res. 1273 specifically addresses the refugee and human rights crisis in Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai, Thailand as well as the human rights crisis in Laos. http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:hr1273ih.txt.pdf
In June of 2008, H. Res. 1273, was introduced and spearheaded by 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 ) and some fifteen ( 15 ) Members of Congress to seek to address the human rights and refugee crisis in Thailand and Laos facing the Laotian and Hmong people.
“Why isn't the international community horrified over the forced repatriation of Hmong political refugees to a regime with a history of cruelty toward the Hmong who fought against communist forces in their homeland of Laos ?” questioned Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, a human rights and refugee expert who has testified in the U.S. Congress frequently on the plight of the Hmong, Lao and Southeast Asian refugees.
Dr. Hamilton-Merritt’s highly acclaimed book Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos ( Indiana University Press ) is replete with horrific examples of the persecution, torture and killing of Hmong refugees forcibly repatriated from Thailand back to Laos.
The Hmong and Laotian diaspora community are commemorating the 15th anniversary of the publication of her important book and honoring her human rights, humanitarian and refugee work. http://www.tragicmountains.org
Contact: Ms. Maria Gomez Center for Public Policy Analysis Telephone 202.543.1444 2020 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006 USA www.cppa-dc.org
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