Apichart Weerawong/AP
A Hmong refugee and her daughter wait
for their turn to see the doctor at a
makeshift hospital.

Thailand Sends Hmong, Former U.S. Allies, Back Home to Laos

July 29, 2008 01:15 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Human rights groups are criticizing the Thai government for repatriating 800 Hmong refugees back to Laos, where they may face persecution.

30-Second Summary

On June 20, about 5,000 ethnic Hmong refugees left the Huay nam Khao camp in Petchabun province, Thailand, intending to walk to Bangkok on World Refugee Day to protest a decision by the Thai and Lao governments to send them back to Laos. The refugees were blocked on the road by Thai authorities, and the repatriations occured shortly afterward.

Thailand claims that the refugees volunteered to go back, but the aid agency Doctors Without Borders challenged the claim in June, saying that they were forced to return to Laos.

Thailand has long been the home of Hmong refugees avoiding persecution by the Laotian government for aiding the U.S. Army’s covert operations, or its “secret war,” in the region during the Vietnam War.

“While it should be remembered that few countries have had to deal with the kind of refugee pressures Thailand has for so long … repatriation should only be an option after an arrangement has been worked out between the Thai and Lao governments and the UNHCR to allow for monitoring of the situation,” writes the Bangkok Post.

The U.S. government says that it will continue to urge the Thai government not to forcibly return any refugees who have reasonable fear of being persecuted in Laos.

Last year, The New York Times reported that Hmong soldiers—former allies of the United States—are still hiding from authorities in the Laotian jungles.

“If I surrender, I will be punished,” said Xang Yang, 58. “They will never forgive me. I cannot live outside the jungle because I am a former American soldier.”

Headline Link: ‘Aid Group Says Thailand Forced Hmong Back to Laos’

Background: ‘Old U.S. Allies, Still Hiding in Laos’

Opinion & Analysis: ‘Let UNHCR Play Major Role’

Related Topics: ‘Laotian Hmong Immigrants Honour CIA “Secret War” Pilot’

Reference: Thailand


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