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31 Hmong Refugees Not Deported: Abandoned at Laos Border

Posted by kinchendavid on August 19, 2006

By  Staff

 

Thailand (Special to DavidKinchen.com) —    Early Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006, 31 ethnic Hmong Lao were taken from  a police station in Lom Kao, where they had been detained since they arrived in Thailand, after fleeing conflict areas in Laos, to a lonely  spot in Thailand, on the border of Laos, in the Chiang Khong area, where they were dropped off and left alone, without food, water, or shelter.
 
Thai Police say they expect the Hmong refugees — one part of a group of 231 recent arrivals — to voluntarily return to
Laos, the very country  
from which they have recently escaped in a desperate attempt to stay alive.
 
Many of the refugees abandoned at the border are from the mountain Phou  
Bia in
Xieng Kouang Province, one of many areas of armed conflict in Laos. Although they had been hiding in the jungles there for as long as 30 years, too afraid to come out, they had finally decided to flee because the “death all around” was more threatening and more certain than the danger they would meet escaping to Thailand.
 
According to the Hmong 18 Council, a US-based advocacy organization contacted about the plight of the refugees, the 31 Hmong Lao were crowded onto a truck and eventually unloaded in a lonely, desolate spot  on the Thai-Lao border. Not too far away are two villages, both ethnically Hmong — one in
Thailand, the other in Laos.
 
The 30 refugees were part of a larger group, numbering about 230, that  
had been arrested for illegal entry in June, as soon as they arrived in  
Thailand, before they could join more than 6,000 refugees already camped in  
Ban Huay Nam Khao in Khao Kho district.
 
According to the refugees, they had escaped relentless attacks at the hands of well-armed Vietnamese and Lao military forces, sometimes with  
chemical weapons deployed by air, always with artillery, and much too frequent atrocities performed on women and children.
 
The Khao Kho district police station was too small for the entire group, so they were split up and sent to six district stations in Petchabon. Due to recent births, the group’s numbers have since increased by at least nine.
 
Thailand, which has no relevant national legislation and has not itself  
ratified any international treaties concerning the treatment of refugees, remains unmoved by the desperate situation of the Hmong Lao.
 
”We do not want another wave of illegal migrants. We will deport them.   We will send them back to
Laos,” said an official on Aug. 17, 2006.


Hmong organizations based in the
United States continue to raise objections to this treatment of their people. “If the refugees are repatriated, they will face almost certain death — but not until they  are first tortured. And all the females, including the little girls, will be gang-raped,”explained Chue Chue Chang, of the Hmong Mutual
Assistance organization, who was the first to hear of the situation, the morning after the group had been abandoned on the border.
 
“Those 31 refugees are expected to do just what the Thai intend — to quietly cross the Lao border, sneak into the nearest Hmong Thai village, and live happily ever after. But reality might not be so cooperative,”says United Lao Council for Peace, Freedom and Reconciliation representative Chue Hue Vang. “I have worked for many
years now for our people. The Hmong refugee issue is not so simple to
resolve.”
 
The ping pong game between
Laos and Thailand has become predictable. Laos officially denies that any of its citizens could have reasons to flee their homeland, and insists these refugees did not come from Laos.  
  Therefore they are not Laotian citizens.
Thailand, on the other hand, has been flooded with Hmong Lao refugees for some 30 years and is  
simply overwhelmed. Its strategy in this case is to use intimidation,  
to let the refugees go hungry, deny them any protection or shelter, and  
threaten them with repatriation. Perhaps they will give up and move in
with Hmong villagers — in
Thailand or in Laos. What they don’t see may not hurt too much.
 
Thailand also continues to deny the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees any access to what they have dubbed an “illegal migration  
settlement.” Fearing the future could bring many more Hmong refugees,  
is maintaining its hard line, hoping to discourage future refugees.
 
”But they didn’t come for economic reasons, just to have a better life,” says Rebecca Sommer of the Society for Threatened Peoples International, a European human rights group. “Most of them, including those dumped out there on the border, came because that’s the only chance they have to survive!
Thailand doesn’t seem to realize that what is happening in the conflict areas in Laos is genocide. And it isn’t happening because the Hmong are rebels, they aren’t rebels. Now it’s happening because the Vietnam and Lao militaries are using them  
for training purposes!”
 
At this point, most observers think that
Laos will continue to deny that the 6,500 refugees in Thailand are from Laos and will resist any pressure from Thailand to take them in again. But how long can this go  
on?   

 
At this point, the small group of refugees remains at the Lao-Thai border, determined not to return. “We are afraid of being killed. We  
do not want to die. Please, help us,” says a weeping Lee Yang to Mr.  
Lor Thao of the Hmong 18 Council. “Here we are, hungry and thirsty.  
We have no place to go. But we will not go back to
Laos, no matter what. To go back   then all of us would die.”
 

An army branch of Thai National Security is currently in charge of the  
Hmong refugees. They found that 30 to 40 percent of the Hmong Lao staying at Phetchabun are long-term residents who had drifted north following last year’s closure of the Wat Tham Krabok refugee camp in  
Saraburi.
 
According to a Thai military official, the remaining Hmong will soon be  
divided into three groups and resettled. Those who came from the conflict areas will make up one group and probably will not be deported. The second group will contain fugitives from
Laos who fled for various reasons but did not come from the areas of armed conflict.  


The third group will be those Hmong who have already been long-term Thai residents. They will be taken back to the areas in
Thailand where  
they had been living before they recently moved to the camp.
 
According to a report submitted to the United Nations by Ms. Sommer of
the Society of Threatened Peoples, she documented more than 1,100 refugees in the camp who had recently fled military aggression in
Laos. Thai officials say they can only find 100 such refugees.
 
Abigail O’Hanlon of Amnesty International says she finds this latest development with the Hmong refugees “very worrying.”

 

    

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One Response to “31 Hmong Refugees Not Deported: Abandoned at Laos Border”

  1. […] 31 Hmong Refugees Not Deported: Abandoned at Laos Border DavidKinchen.com An army branch of Thai National Security is currently in charge of the Hmong refugees. They found that 30 to 40 percent of the Hmong Lao staying at Phetchabun are long-term residents who had drifted north following last year’s closure of the Wat Tham Krabok refugee camp in Saraburi. According to a Thai military official, the remaining Hmong will soon be divided into three groups and resettled. Those who came from the conflict areas will make up one group and probably will not be deported. The second group will contain fugitives from Laos who fled for various reasons but did not come from the areas of armed conflict. The third group will be those Hmong who have already been long-term Thai residents. They will be taken back to the areas in Thailand where they had been living before they recently moved to the camp. According to a report submitted to the United Nations by Ms. Sommer of the Society of Threatened Peoples, she documented more than 1,100 refugees in the camp who had recently fled military aggression in Laos. Thai officials say they can only find 100 such refugees. I don’t see how Ms Sommer could come up with that info when she said that they were not allowed to talk to them, but what ever, I do not believe most of it anyway and I can not see where it is all USA fault when Old Bob said that they are still fighting the communists of Lao and they have been hiding for 30 years and a lot of them are below 30, so send those back, but seems as the Thai will settle the ones that have been here awhile. I might seem hard to some, but you have to look after your own and if you don’t then no one will. […]

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