Thailand to repatriate 4,000 Hmong by year's end, Radio Laos says

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 05:41:44 GMT

Bangkok - Thailand plans to repatriate about 4,000 Hmong refugees to Laos "by force" by the end of this year, Radio Laos said Thursday. Thailand has already repatriated an estimated 2,000 Hmong from its Huai Nam Khao camp and would repatriate the remaining 4,000 to Laos by year's end, the state-run radio station said in a broadcast monitored in Bangkok.

"If the Hmong wish to seek resettlement abroad, they will do so from Laos, not from Thailand," the station said.

The Thai military, which controls Huai Nam Khao camp in Petchabun province, 270 kilometres north of Bangkok, has been systematically intimidating the camp's ethnic Hmong population to return to Laos, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres, which previously provided food and medical supplies to the camp.

On May 20, the aid group announced its decision to end its assistance to the camp after failing to prevent the harassment of the Hmong refugees.

The group called on the United Nations and US and French governments to pressure Thailand and Laos to stop the forced repatriation of the Hmong and to allow an independent third party to assess the areas selected for the returnees and to determine whether the returns are voluntary.

Many of the Hmong, an ethnic minority group in neighbouring Laos who were used by the US military in their "secret war" against communism in Indochina, said they face persecution and personal danger in their homeland.

The Thai and Lao governments have agreed that all residents in the camp must be repatriated to Laos before 2010.


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