No Return from Laos: Thailand Army Column, Buses Arrive At Hmong Refugee Camp
"Despite the outcry of international human rights and humanitarian organizations, the Thai military convoy was deployed this morning in an apparent attempt to seek to intimidate and force thousands of Hmong refugees and asylum seekers at the Petchabun camp back to Laos where many fled political and religious persecution as well as attacks by the Lao army," explained Philip Smith of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Bangkok, Thailand and Washington, D.C., December 23,2009, For Immediate Release - In an overwhelming display of military force directed against defenseless Lao Hmong refugees, a large military column that includes elements of the Royal Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior ( MOI ) troops has been deployed at the main Hmong refugee camp in Thailand’s Petchabun Province.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Army Chief of Staff General Anupong Paochinda are reported to have directly ordered the convoy of over 50 vehicles and hundreds of new troops to the camp in the early hours of today to seek to force nearly 5,000 Hmong at the camp near Ban Huay Nam Khao back to Laos.
The Lao Human Rights Council, the Center for Public Policy Analysis and Lao Hmong-Americans in the United States have received distressing reports today from refugees in Thailand about a large military convoy of between 50-80 vehicles that has been deployed to the main Hmong refugee camp at Huay Nam Khao in Petchabun Province, Thailand, where between 4000-5000 Lao Hmong refugees are being detained by the Thai military.
“Multiple sources inside the Hmong refugee camp have reported that a large Thai military convoy with dozens of buses and army trucks has arrived in the early morning of December 23 and assembled outside the camp in Petchabun with additional special troops and transport vehicles,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ).
"Once again today, under the apparent direct orders of Prime Minister Abhisit, Thailand’s Defense Prawit Wongsuwon and Minister of Interior ( MOI ) Chavarat Charnvirakuland and Army Chief Anupong Paochinda have relentlessly deployed additional Royal Thai Third Army and special MOI troops, with more truck and buses, to prepare for the mass forced repatriation of some 5,000 Lao Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers at Huay Nam Khao back to Laos," Smith explained. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1106722.html
“Today, a frenzy of dozens of clandestine telephone calls and communications from the main Hmong refugee camp in Thailand, and surrounding areas in Petchabun Province, have sought to relay to Washington, D.C., and the world, what is a clear emergency appeal by the refugees to save them from being sent back to the communist regime in Laos they fled as more and more Thai military trucks, buses and soldiers arrive today at the camp.”
“Despite the outcry of international human rights and humanitarian organizations, the Thai military convoy was deployed this morning in an apparent attempt to seek to intimidate and force thousands of Hmong refugees and asylum seekers at the Petchabun camp back to Laos where many fled political and religious persecution as well as attacks by the Lao army,” Smith continued.
“Unfortunately, the Thai military appears to have run out of Hmong volunteers to return to Laos and, in violation of international human rights and refugee law, is deploying new forces to facilitate the potential mass forced repatriation of Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers back to Laos against their will, ” Smith stated.
“The timing of the arrival today of the Thai military convoy, and this display of overwhelming military force to the defenseless refugees, appears to have been carefully planned to repatriate the Hmong back to Laos just before the American Christmas and New Year holidays in an effort to catch Western and American policymakers supportive of granting asylum to the Hmong refugees, flatfooted and off guard,” continued Smith.
Smith concluded: “Distressed Hmong-American family members in the United States are also telephoning and reporting to us in Washington, D.C., that they are receiving alarming reports today from their relatives in Huay Nam Khao, and elsewhere in Thailand, about the arrival of the Thai Army convoy that they believe has been sent to the Hmong camp to push their loved ones and the refugees back to Laos by coercive means.”
“At this very moment the Thai government is implementing a mass forced repatriation of all Hmong refugees at Huaj Nam Khao Refugee Camp to return to Laos. Reports came in from representatives in the refugee camp at approximately 5:00 am on December 23, 2009 ( Indochina/Thailand time ), to the Lao Human Rights Council ( LHRC ) that more than 80 army trucks and buses have arrived at the Huaj Nam Khao Refugee Camp and military soldiers are preparing to gather all Hmong refugees in the camp by 12:00 pm on December 23, 2009 to be repatriated back to Laos,” Vaughn Vang, Director of the LHRC said.
“These types of soldiers have not been seen before by the Hmong refugees as they are described to be wearing green uniforms with green helmets. At this very moment, all Hmong refugees are refusing to return to Laos and have grouped together in refusal to board the trucks and buses.
“The Thai soldiers have threatened these Hmong refugees that all persons refusing to board the vehicles to be returned to Laos will be brutally beaten or killed tonight without interference from other countries or authorities as the Hmong refugees are of no importance to the world. They further stated that the world community would not care for these Hmong refugees’ lives and will not respond to the mass forced repatriation and the mass killing that will occur in a few hours.
“These Hmong children, women, elders, and civilians are desperately calling upon the United States, United Nations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR ), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders ( MSF ), European Union, International League of Human Rights, all international human rights organizations, all countries, and the world community to rescue them.
“It will only be a few hours before their lives may come to an end and the world needs to open their eyes and ears to see and hear the desperate cries of these innocent human beings. There is no time for the world to continue denying the atrocities against these innocent children, women, elders, and civilians. It is time for the world to answer their cries and give them a voice. It is time for the world to grant them the life, liberty, and human rights that they, as human beings, deserve.
“In just a few hours, 4,532 lives of innocent children, women, elders, and civilians may be killed or forced repatriated to Laos and the world needs to take responsibility for these innocent lives.”
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders,UNHCR, the European Parliament and others have issued recent appeals on behalf of the over 5,100 Lao Hmong refugees and asylum seekers in Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai, Thailand.
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