Thursday, May 21, 2009
"From my years spend in Thailand, I know the Thai to be caring, good-willed people who would be pleased to see this crisis resolved by allowing those Hmong determined to be political refugees to be re-united with their families or re-settled in third countries," stated Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt in Washington, D.C.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C., May 20, 2009 - The Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in cooperation with Members of the U.S. Congress, policymakers, non-governmental organizations, and a coalition of Lao and Hmong non-profit organizations, including the Lao Veterans of America, Inc., the Lao Veterans of America Institute, the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. and the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council, are co-hosting events in Washington, D.C. and Capitol Hill this week to seek to develop awareness about the emergency plight of Lao and Hmong political refugees in Thailand and Laos who are facing mass starvation, food-cut offs, forced repatriation and persecution. Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt is a keynote speaker at the events, including a U.S. Congressional Forum and Briefing on Laos on May 21-22, 2009 entitled: “Mass Starvation Fuels Lao Hmong Refugee Crisis in Thailand and Laos.”
“The current humanitarian, human rights and policy implications of The Doctors Without Borders' [Medecins Sans Frontieres ( MSF )] protest withdrawal from Ban Huay Nam Khao refugee camp, in Petchabun Province, Thailand, is a critical issue of discussion,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C.. “Over 5,500 Lao Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers, including many Lao Hmong veterans who served with U.S. clandestine and special forces during the Vietnam War, will soon be without food and medical care as a result of Thailand's forced repatriation policy and MSF's planned withdrawal from the refugee camp.”
Other keynote speakers include Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President and Founder of the Lao Veterans of America Institute and others. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1091674.html
Dr. Hamilton-Merritt and her colleagues will also provide an update on the plight of some 158 Lao Hmong political refugees in Nong Khai Thailand, a topic which will also be discussed at the evemts in the U.S. Congress and Washington, D.C. Recent large-scale attacks, and a campaign of mass starvation, by the Lao military on unarmed Lao and Hmong civilians in the provinces of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Khammoune and Xieng Khouang will likewise be discussed as well as increased religious and political persecution in Laos.
Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt is the author of Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, The Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos and a two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her work on behalf of the Lao and the Hmong. www.tragicmountains.org
MSF issued a major report today on the Hmong refugee camp in Thailand entitled; “Hidden Behind Barbed Wire: The Plight of Hmong Refugees Held in Detention Camp in Northern Thailand Ignored Amid Ongoing Deportations to Laos”
The following is the statement released today in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Congress, by Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt on the protest by Doctors Without Borders on the forced Repatriation of Lao Hmong political refugees from Thailand to the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ):
“Thank you, Doctors Without Borders for the courageous stand your agency has taken to protect the vulnerable Lao Hmong refugees in northern Thailand from forced repatriation back to Laos where they have survived military attacks, gang raping of children, extreme torture, starvation, and the maiming and killing of men, women, and children by the Lao government
Doctors Without Borders deserves another Nobel Peace Prize. Its May 20 briefing paper ”Hidden Behind Barbed Wire” reports horrendous brutalities suffered by the Hmong held in Huay Nam Khao camp. They huddle in fear behind razor wire, guarded by armed soldiers, and denied access to journalists and the United Nations. http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/publications/article.cfm?id=3629&cat=special-report&ref=home-center-relatedlink
Doctors Without Borders does not take such a bold protest action lightly. Renowned for its humanitarian, non-political assistance to those in grave danger and need, Doctors Without Borders protest to champion the cause of the voiceless, suffering Hmong is a call to all of us-- to unite to stop the forced repatriation and to allow independent, professional agencies to interview those in this camp for political refugee status.
While our media carry numerous stories on Darfur’s suffering, the U.S. main stream media has been quiet on the Hmong humanitarian crisis. The U.S. did not cause Dafur, but the U.S. and Thailand are largely responsible for the plight of the Hmong. .
The Hmong were recruited by the U.S. and trained by the Thai to fight the North Vietnamese in Laos during the Vietnam War. The Thais feared that the fighting might spill over in Thailand. To keep that from happening, the Hmong, Lao, and Thai “volunteers” fought the battles against the communist armies on Lao soil, protecting Thailand from the fighting.
From my years spend in Thailand, I know the Thai to be caring, good-willed people who would be pleased to see this crisis resolved by allowing those Hmong determined to be political refugees to be re-united with their families or re-settled in third countries.
Many international crises are so complicated that resolution is difficult. In this crisis, the resolution is simple: stop the forced repatriation, allow independent professional screening teams into the camp to determine refugee status, and the majority of these 5,000 people will be given life, hope, and granted asylum by countries of good-will such as Australia, Canada, France, and the United States.”
( End Statement of Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Washington, D.C., February 20, 2009 )
Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt is the author of Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, The Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos and a two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her work on behalf of the Lao and the Hmong people.
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