INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: During Hanoi Visit, Unhcr Comments On 42 Vietnamese H'mong

Published: Tue 19 Dec 2006 08:16 AM
VZCZCXRO8507
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #3033 3530816
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190816Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4144
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 2251
RUEHZS/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1155
UNCLAS HANOI 003033
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND PRM, BANGKOK FOR REFUGEE COORDINATOR, GENEVA
FOR RMA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM HUMANR PREF VM
SUBJECT: DURING HANOI VISIT, UNHCR COMMENTS ON 42 VIETNAMESE H'MONG
DETAINED IN BANGKOK
Summary
-------
1. (SBU) According to a UNHCR official in Hanoi, Thai authorities
have reportedly threatened to deport 42 Vietnamese ethnic H'mong
recently arrested in Thailand. UNHCR is negotiating a solution with
the Vietnamese and Thai MFAs calling for third-party resettlement.
All parties appear to accept this solution and desire to maintain a
"low profile" on this case. UNHCR says the group members qualify
for refugee status and sees the United States and New Zealand as
likely destination countries. UNHCR plans to submit these cases to
both governments shortly for review. End Summary.
Vietnamese H'mong among Laotians Arrested in Bangkok
--------------------------------------------- -------
2. (SBU) On the margins of a briefing on UNHCR activities in Vietnam
(septel) on December 15, UNHCR Bangkok Senior Policy Officer
Giuseppe de Vicentis explained his concern about the situation of 42
Vietnamese ethnic H'mong detained in Bangkok. On November 26, Thai
authorities raided a H'mong shelter and arrested 194 individuals
with the intention to deport them to Laos. 193 currently remain in
detention in Thailand; one case was processed for resettlement.
Most of these H'mong had already been screened by UNHCR and some had
fully processed Refugee Status Determinations (RSDs). De Vincentis
told us that Thai authorities had presumed that all the H'mong in
the shelter were Laotian, but upon examination, they realized that
42 were actually Vietnamese H'mong, and only 152 individuals
originated in Laos. UNHCR has confirmed that the Vietnamese H'mong
are from the northern Vietnam-China border provinces of Lao Cai and
Ha Giang. These individuals qualify as refugees on the grounds of
"religious and ethnic discrimination," and were awaiting their final
UNHCR status determinations, De Vicentis said.
3. (SBU) De Vicentis explained that Thai authorities have divided
the group and taken the Lao H'mong to a detention facility at the
Thai-Lao border. The 42 Vietnamese H'mong, comprising only nine
families, remain in Bangkok along with 15 other Vietnamese H'mong
who were not arrested. Thai authorities have since contacted the
Vietnamese Ambassador in Bangkok and informed him of their intention
to deport the group back to Vietnam. De Vicentis stated that UNHCR
is trying to resolve this issue quickly and plans to lodge a formal
protest if the Government of Thailand appears to be proceeding with
the deportation.
GVN Supports a Third-Party Resettlement Solution
--------------------------------------------- ---
4. (SBU) De Vincentis told us that he met with the Government of
Vietnam's (GVN) MFA Consular Department Director General Bui Dinh
Dzinh in Hanoi on December 15 in order to "raise the profile of this
case" and come up with a solution agreeable to Hanoi, Bangkok and
the UNHCR. Dzinh reportedly told De Vincentis that the GVN would
prefer to avoid deportation of the Vietnamese H'mong. However, the
GVN would "welcome" the 57 Vietnamese H'mong individuals if they
wish to return voluntarily. De Vicentis added that the GVN prefers
a third-party resettlement solution. UNHCR also wants to keep this
case "low profile" and not "politicize" the issue, while resolving
the humanitarian aspects of the case, De Vicentis added.
A Negotiated Solution?
----------------------
5. (SBU) De Vicentis told us that the Thai government is likely
amenable to a negotiated third-country resettlement solution for the
57 Vietnamese H'mong. While Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951
UN Convention on Refugees, De Vicentis said the Thai government
typically does not forcibly deport refugees, despite its threats to
do so in this case. Concerning potential resettlement, UNHCR judges
that there are no grounds for a problem with "material support for
terrorism" regulations for processing these cases and plans to
submit them to U.S. Government refugee authorities in Bangkok and to
the New Zealand Government (which has informally committed to take
some of the refugees).
ALOISI
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