Thursday, August 13, 2009
Thursday, 13 August 2009, 5:50 pm
Press Release: Hmong Advocate
Thai military taser Hmong refugee in head, gag children
Last Sunday morning, just two days after a U.S. Embassy delegation visited Hmong refugees in Huay Nam Khao camp, the Thai military shot refugee Shoua Lor in the head with some sort of taser gun. Shoua Lor and six other refugees had been actively protesting the Thai military’s plans to forcibly deport the group to Laos. Several months ago, he and the others had mutilated themselves with knives threatening to commit suicide rather than return to Laos where they face political persecution.
On Sunday morning due to possible threats of deporting him, Shoua Lor reportedly pulled out a knife saying he would kill himself rather than return to Laos. It seems that the military used the taser to subdue him then forced Shoua Lor and six others along with their families onto a truck. The women and children were reportedly gagged with pieces of cloth put into their mouths so no one could hear their screams for help. The seven men and their families are being held at nearby Lom Sak military base (BAT 28) in Petchabun province awaiting deportation to Laos.
Although denied by the Thai Foreign Ministry, the military continues to use an extreme amount of psychological coercion threatening the remaining Hmong population with forced repatriation to Laos if they don’t volunteer soon. To justify this policy of forced return, the military cites the fact that the U.S. has made it clear to the population that they have no plans on any resettlement program and that no third country is willing to take them.
The Thai military needs to halt its psychological harassment of the camp population and open a transparent screening process operated by an unbiased third-party, preferably UNHCR, and one that complies with accepted standards of international law. That is the only fair and acceptable way to separate the political refugees from the economic migrants.
Also, the United States needs to focus its attention on respect for international law by making a strong voice for a fair and unbiased screening process rather than just telling these hopeless traumatized refugees that the U.S. has no program for them. That is a bunch of double-talk due to the fact that the UNHCR is heavily dependent on the U.S. to resettle the majority of its refugees. When the U.S. says they have no program they’re basically telling the Thais to go ahead with forced repatriation, or rather to continue using psychological coercion as its more of a gray area and not so ugly.