Thursday, December 3, 2009
2009-12-03 05:32:54 - The Center for Public Policy Analysis today has urged Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Army Chief Anupong Paochinda to allow independent journalists open news media access to Lao Hmong political refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai, Thailand facing forced repatriation to Laos.
Washington, D.C., Ban Huay Nam Khao and Bangkok, Thailand, December 3, 2008
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has issued repeated statements expressing concern about the plight of Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand and the lack of press freedom in Laos.
“Regrettably, for over two years, since the unfortunate announcement of the forced repatriation of Lao Hmong refugees, the Thai military continues to ban independent media from visiting Hmong refugee camps in Thailand said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA).
“This ongoing draconian ban on independent news media access to the Lao Hmong refugee camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao and the detention center at Nong Khai remains in place, despite the international appeals by Journalists Without Borders, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the United Nations and many others to the Thai military and Royal Thai government Smith concluded.
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the ban which Thailand’s military authorities imposed in the summer of 2007 on journalists who seek to visit a Lao Hmong refugee camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao, near the country’s northern border with Laos. www.rsf.org/spip.php?page=article&id_article=22846
According to a July 6, 2007, statement by RSF: ‘This news blackout will allow the military to ignore all their international obligations towards the refugees and to quietly carry on expelling people who are in danger of being persecuted by the Laotian authorities the press freedom organization said.
According to ‘The Nation’ newspaper, the military also asked the media to portray Thai officials in a favourable light and not report the mistreatment of Hmong refugees. The media were also urged to play up the negative aspects of the Hmong presence in the region"
At the time of the RSF statement, the camp contained about 7,000 members of Laos’ Hmong ethnic minority, who have been fleeing communist Laos. Currently, some 5,100 Lao Hmong refugees are at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province and Nong Khai, Thailand.
Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) leaders have been repeatedly listed as “Press Predators” by RSF.
Currently, the LPDR continues to imprison Lao Hmong news media guides from 2003 who assisted Western journalists seeking to report about the plight of the Hmong in Laos. These include Thao Moua and Pa Phue Khang.
Laos under the LPDR was listed among the worst nations in the world in terms of the lack of press freedom by RSF in their 2009 Press Freedom Index. The LPDR regime in Laos is list at the near bottom of 175 nations rated around the globe, coming in at 169 with Burma, North Korea and other authoritarian regimes.
In recent months and years, RSF, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and others have issued repeated reports about the plight of Lao Hmong refugees in Laos and Thailand, which include information about Lao military attacks and mass starvation directed against civilians and religious and political dissident groups.