Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In a nod to the growing Hmong populations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the states’ four U.S. senators teamed up in a joint statement Tuesday opposing the Thai government’s plans to forcibly repatriate more than 4,000 Hmong refugees back to Laos.
The four Democrats, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota and Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, say they “strongly condemn” the Thais’ decision, which they say ignores the objections of the United Nations, the U.S. Government, and international human rights groups.
The statement reads in part: “We share the concern of many of our Hmong-American constituents whose loved ones have been forced to return, and we will be paying close attention as the Hmong are resettled in Laos. We urge the Government of Laos to ensure the safety and well being of these individuals and to allow immediate and ongoing monitoring by international observers at all stages of the resettlement and reintegration process.”
A quick history lesson to understand why this is good politics: The Hmong tribesmen of Laos were notoriously helpful to the CIA and U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War. After the fall of Saigon, many ended up in refugee camps in Thailand, from there to immigrate to the United States, with the Twin Cities as a major welcoming destination.
Earlier this month, Klobuchar and Franken were among several senators who wrote directly to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, expressing their concerns.