Mar 10, 2009

Hmong: Refugees Fear Repatriation After Thai Census

Active ImageHmong refugees fear that counting of people during food distribution may be part of a Thai repatriation programme.



Below is an article published by: The Nation

They said the Thai military who oversees the camp have blocked food supply since Friday [6 March 2009].

A Thai military officer, who asked not to be named, at Ban Huay Nam Khao camp on Monday [9 March 2009] denied the claims.

"The military did not intervene in food delivery made by the Medicine Sans Frontieres, a French NGO, who takes care of food and medical supply to the Hmong," he said.

Each adult refugee received six kilograms of rice per week and a child got three kilograms each per week.
Meanwhile an aid worker said there was technical problems during food delivery on Friday [6 March 2009] since the military wanted to count the Hmong population who took the food but the Hmong was panic and resisted the counting.

A few groups of Hmong walked out since they feared the counting would be a part of repatriation process.

However, as of Monday morning [9 March 2009] food delivery was resumed.

Hmong leader Lee Sue said to put more pressure on the Hmongs, the authority also arrested a number of Hmong ethnics in the camp as requested by Laos officials recently.

He said in a telephone interview, "We would not return to face punishment in Laos. I will fight until the end of my life to resist the repatriation."

The same military officer confirmed the local Thai police have really arrested 13 Hmong ethnics from the camp two weeks ago on the charge of illegal gambling.

The officer dismissed the Hmong allegation that the arrest was conducted at Vientiane' s request.

The officer said, "Yes, we have contacted all of them to ask whether they want to reunion with families in Laos but they refuse and we don't force them."

Lee Sue said Thailand should be gratitude to the Hmong who help to fight against Communist threat more than three decades ago and should not force them back to Laos.

Lee Sue urged the National Human Right Commission to investigate the military conduct.

Thailand has sheltered more than 5,000 Hmong ethnic from Laos since late 2004. They claimed they are close associates of United States CIA's secret fighters who help fight against Communist Pathet Lao before the fall of Vientiane in 1975.

However, Thailand and Laos regarded the group as normal illegal migrant to seek better lives in Thailand and perhaps third countries with assistance of human traffickers. The two countries agreed since 2007 to repatriate all of them to Laos.

A total 2,057 Hmong were repatriated since May 2007 so far remaining 5,474 in Ban Huay Nam Khao currently.