Laos: Hmong Refugees Recently Forced From Thailand Back To Laos.
U.S.-based, non-governmental human rights, refugee and policy organizations are urging Laos to grant emergency access to
over 4,000 Hmong refugees recently forced from Thailand back to Laos.
The Lao Human Rights Council, the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and other organizations have expressed
concerns about the treatment of Lao Hmong refugees in the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) forcibly repatriated
from Thailand to Laos in recent days by the Thai military. They are urging the LPDR to provide the United Nations
immediate access to the Lao Hmong refugees. The Lao Human Rights Council of Green Bay, Wisconsin and St. Paul, Minnesota
has issued a statement about the crisis facing Lao Hmong refugees forcibly returned from Thailand’s Ban Huay Nam Khao
and Nong Khai,Thailand to Laos over the American holiday season.
“We are deeply concerned about the plight of thousands of Lao Hmong refugees and asylum seekers forcibly returned to
Laos in recent days as well as those who were forced back earlier,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center
for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C. “We urge the LPDR government in Laos to grant the United Nations
immediate and unfettered access to the Lao Hmong refugees recently returned.”
The following is the statement issued by Vaughn Vang of the Lao Human Rights Council issued yesterday:
“ On December 27, 2009, at 5:30 A.M., Thailand used more than 5,000 soldiers, nurses and civilian workers to force
4,532 Lao Hmong refugees at Huay Nam Khao Camp, Petchuban, Thailand back to Laos,” said Vaughn Vang, Director of the Lao
Human Rights Council in Green Bay, Wisconsin and St. Paul, Minnesota.
“This terrible event occurred despite the outcry of the international community and the Hmong American community about
the possible persecution these refugees may encounter.
“Thailand has stated that these Lao Hmong people are illegal economic migrants but refused the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to these political refugees and asylum seekers. In addition, Thailand had
admitted to the US Congress, US State Department and the Hmong American Community that it had screened in about 8
percent of these refugees and qualified them for international protection; however, Thailand also forced these
individuals back to Laos along with the other Hmong refugees.
“Thailand is not only violating the international laws but its own laws as well. Currently, Thailand is valuing their
economic interest at a much higher level than its human rights issue.
“Thailand has also forced back to Laos the 158 detaining refugees in Nong Khai Detention Center, who were classified as
people of concern by the UNHCR and have been accepted by Australia, Netherlands and the USA for resettlement. Some
children and some family members have been forced to go to Laos without their parents and other family members. Thailand
has blocked the resettlement of these people without any legal rationale. These actions are among the most inhumane acts
ever committed by Thailand.
“We hope that the Lao government will follow through with their promise to the Thai government, UNHCR, other diplomats,
and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for access to these returnees for resettlement and make sure they are safe,
secure and getting assistance until their basic needs are met and they are able to sustain their basic needs on their
“We have grave concerns about the Lao Hmong returnees’ safety, well being, and lack of access to assistance. We also
have serious concerns about barriers in Laos to their resettlement abroad.”