Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand Army Abuses Force Hmong, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) To Leave
"With Doctors Without Borders' decision to cease providing food and medical care for the Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand, because of Prime Minister Abhisit's, and the Thai Third Army's, renewed forced repatriaton policy and repeated food cut-offs to the refugees, it is critical for the international community to press Thailand to allow emergency food and medical assistance into the camps from other sources," Smith concluded.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, Thailand, May 19, 2009 - “Laotian and Hmong-American advocates Lia Vang, Pamela Xiong, Vaughn Vang and other key members of the Hmong Diaspora Leadership Council have repeatedly called for Lao Hmong refugees in Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province, and Nong Khai, Thailand to be granted political asylum in Thailand until they can be resettled in third countries such as the United States, Australia, France and other countries,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C.
“Members of the Lao-Hmong American community, who have family members in Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai refugee centers are seeking to help save their relatives and kin from forced repatriation back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled; the are seeking to communicate to policymakers in Washington, D.C. and Bangkok an important message of hope and solidarity in seeking to save these Lao and Hmong political refugees, including thousands of innocent women and children, from forced repatriation from Thailand back to the horrific and brutal communist regime in Laos that they fled and that continues to persecute and kill them.”
“Tragically, despite the international humanitarian outcry against the repatriation of Lao Hmong refugees, the Thai government, including the Royal Thai Third Army and Ministry of the Interior ( MOI ) forces, under the apparent direct order of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, has repeatedly blocked critical food and medicine deliveries that Doctors Without Borders ( MSF ) has sought to deliver recently to the Lao Hmong refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao for their survival and basic needs,” Smith observed.
"With Doctors Without Borders' decision to cease providing food and medical care for the Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand, because of Prime Minister Abhisit's, and the Thai Third Army's, renewed forced repatriaton policy and repeated food cut-offs to the refugees, it is critical for the international community to press Thailand to allow emergency food and medical assistance into the camps from other sources and third country donors like the United States and the United Nations," Smith concluded.
The following are excerpts of the statement and appeal by the Hmong Diaspora Leadership Council represented by Lia Vang, Pamela Xiong and a coalition of Lao Hmong organizations presented on February 5-6, 2009, in Washington, D.C. , at a Laos National Policy Conference and U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos:
Statement of Pamela Xiong Hmong Diaspora Leadership Council
"First of all, I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Members of the U.S. Congress, Mr. Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) as well as Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt and Members of the U.S. Congress, not only for inviting us here, to the U.S. Capital and U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., but also for the rigorous support that they have always munificently given to the Laos and Hmong cause. There is no amount of words that could express the depth of gratitude from our Laotian and Hmong community to you Mr. Philip Smith, Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt and Members of the U.S. Congress.
We are grateful for your help in participating in this Hmong and Laos National Policy Conference and U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos and in honoring the 15th anniversary of the publication of Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt’s book 'Tragic Moutains: The Hmong, the Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos' ( Indiana University Press ). We are here to help honor Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt and her important book and history of the Lao Hmong people and the Kingdom of Laos. And most endearingly, thank all of you, who are participating today, in this Laos National Policy Conference, and U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos for being here from across the United States and international community. Sometimes it can be difficult to see how events so far across the world can be of enough significance to warrant your presence here today. But your being here is indicative of your admirable thirst for knowledge and truth. And when you help us tell our story, you will come closer to that truth and appreciate the significance that this story holds at HOME, here in the United States of America.
Because that is what this is to the Lao Hmong now, home. What magnifies the significance of the Lao Hmong community having found themselves home in the United States, is HOW they came to find themselves home here. The Hmong earned their home in the United States because 30 years ago, Hmong fathers died so that American fathers could live. Lao Hmong fathers and sons magnanimously, courageously and loyally gave their lives to save and protect the lives of American fathers and sons. And then for 30 years AFTER the withdrawal of American troops, as American men returned home to their families, Hmong families continued to die for the principles of this country. Children at 12 years of age fought on the battlefield of that war eventually turned into men on battlefield in that war, into fathers, who then fought alongside their sons and then lived to see their grandson fighting the same war. And as the men were killed off, they came after the women, and children.
It is easy enough to just say that this is the history of the Hmong people, but the reality of it is….it hasn’t been long enough in the past to be history, in fact, it is reported to still be happening TODAY. The history, is still being written as we speak because not only is it Lao Hmong history, it is AMERICAN history. We arrived here through the sacrifices we made for this country. We’ve come a LONG ways from an ugly history of slavery, injustice, and inequality. We don’t want to see the fate of the Hmong people as another tragic chapter in American history. The new year, and the new administration in Washington, D.C., the new Obama Administration, brings the promise of change.
But as much as we are fighting for that change, our greatest fear now is that we may not succeed as the foreign ministry spokesman for was quoted in the Bankok post as saying, “there is coordination between the government and Laos to send Hmong refugees back to Laos.” The Hmong are political refugees, not economic migrants.
A reported 190 Lao Hmong have already been sent back this past Monday via the new “Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge”. Although Thailand insists that those repatriated are economic migrants, political refugee Ge Vang was among those repatriated. He is brother to a jungle leader and had been imprisoned by Laos for 3 years before escaping to Thailand in 2006 seeking asylum. Those who are at risk now for forced repatriation include the Hmong teenage girls who were repatriated only to escape back to the camps to tell their stories of rape and torture.
Currently, over 5500 Lao Hmong political refugees in Huay Nam Khao are still living in an enclosed camp, isolated and hidden from the international communities. Since May of 2007, the Thai government pressured the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR ) to stop conducting refugee status determinations in Thailand. As a result, this has put the Lao Hmong refugees in limbo, they receive no protection by the UNHCR. It also allows the Thai authorities to classify Lao Hmong as "illegal migrants," making them subject to arrest, detention and deportation.
Humanitarian aid and Relief agencies are barred from the camp, Medicins San Frontieres ( MSF ) is the only agency that is allowed to supply minimum food, water, sanitation, and medical services to the Hmong refugees.
Furthermore, there are currently 158 Hmong refugees being jailed in Nong Khai, Thailand, for over 800 days and will continue to remain in the jail cell until further decision from the Thai government. Within this group, three children age 5, 7, and 9 are parentless. They have been separated from their parents and are being jailed along with other Lao Hmong refugees, where their parents whereabouts is unknown. At least 24 of these detainees have been issued NI numbers recognizing them as People of Concern.
The United States, Australia, Canada and Netherlands have offered resettlement for this group, but the Thai authorities have refused to allow them to leave.
The Hmong Diaspora Leadership Council is asking that Thailand honor Amnesty International’s request for Thailand to provide fair and transparent procedures for these refugees and allow them to exercise their right to seek asylum. We also agree that the refugees in Nong Khai must be released from their unfair and indefinite detainment. In addition to these requests, HDLC would also like to request that Thailand cooperate and work with the Hmong Community in America to resolve these issues. In the words of Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing”.
( end statement Pamela Xiong, Hmong Diaspora Leadership Council, Washington, D.C. February 5-6, 2009 ) -- Contact:
Juan Lopez or Cindy Vue Tele. ( 202 ) 543-1444
Center for Public Policy Analysis 2020 Pennsylvania Ave,, N.W. Suite No.#212 Washington, D.C. 20006 USA
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