Laos, Thailand Refugee Crisis: SEA Games May Suffer More Political Violence, Unrest

"The Thailand and Laos refugee crisis may stir more unwanted political violence and civil unrest prior to the SEA games start if a military solution continues to be pursued by Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, General Anupong and Prime Minister Abhisit as well as the Lao military," said Philip Smith, of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C.

Online PR News – 17-November-2009 – – Geneva, Switzerland, Washington, D.C., Nong Khai, Thailand, November 17, 2009

A coalition of non-governmental and non-profit organizations (NGOs) have appealed for an end to the surge in political and institutional violence directed against Laotians in Laos and Thailand on the eve of the Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games) and access by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Lao Hmong refugees who have fled political and religious persecution in Laos. In Geneva, the UNHCR again issued an appeal to Thailand, and the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, for the release of over 150 Lao Hmong political refugees held in Nong Khai, Thailand, that fled persecution in Laos. The Thailand and Laos refugee crisis may stir more unwanted political violence and civil unrest prior to the SEA games start if a military solution continues to be pursued by Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, General Anupong and Prime Minister Abhisit as well as the Lao military, a Washington, D.C. foreign policy research organization, the CPPA, observed.

The Lao Hmong Human Rights Council (LHHRC) has also issued a new appeal on behalf of Hmong refugee leaders in Thailand opposed to returning to the communist regime in Laos where they fled horrific military and security forces attacks.

Laotians and Hmong have suffered increased political and religious persecution in Laos, prior to the start of the SEA games in Laos, including the massive Lao army and secret police crackdown on recent protest organizers and ordinary citizens in Vientiane, Laos, that has led to the arrest or detention of over 1100 Laotians this month. http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/11593-1258153263-laos-crackdown-on-38-more-dissidents-as-obama-sea-games-near.html
http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/10586-1257366404-hundreds-more-laotians-arrested-by-laos-army-as-sea-games-approach.html

“The Thailand and Laos refugee crisis may stir more unwanted political violence and civil unrest prior to the SEA games start in December if a military solution continues to be pursued by Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, General Anupong and Prime Minister Abhisit in Thailand as well as the Lao military,” observed Philip Smith, of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C. "In Laos, the Lao army and LPDR regime, with the help of additional troops from Vietnam, are also pursuing a military solution to what is essentially a social, civil and human rights problem, namely the continued Stalinist tyranny of an elite and corrupt, one-party military dictatorship that continues to generate an outflux of refugees."
http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1105230.html

The human rights, humanitarian and non-profit NGOs concerned about the upswing in political and institutional violence in Laos and Thailand directed against Lao and Hmong political refugees, dissidents and asylum seekers, include the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council (LHHRC), the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI), Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVA), Hmong Advance, Inc. (HA), Hmong Advancement, Inc. (HAI), United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. (ULDL), Laos Institute for Democracy (LIFD) the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and others.
http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1105478.html

“Today, 17 November, marks three years since a group of recognized Lao Hmong refugees were rounded up in Bangkok for deportation. The group, now totalling 158, have been in detention ever since. UNHCR calls on all parties to play their part in finding a humanitarian solution to their plight and end the detention of this group of children, women and men who are being held in two cells in an immigration detention centre in Nong Khai, Thailand,” said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Mr. Mahecic continued: “Many of the Hmong living in the highlands of Laos took part in the war that engulfed Laos in the 1960s and 1970s. When the Pathet Lao came to power in 1975, many tens of thousands of Lao Hmong fled to Thailand seeking asylum, and large numbers were resettled in Western countries, mostly in the United States…”

“Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva has again urged Thailand, and Prime Minister Abhisit, to allow over 150 Lao Hmong political refugees at Nong Khai Detention Center to be released and resettled in third countries that have agreed to take them,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director for the Washington, D.C.-based CPPA. http://www.cppa-dc.org

“Over, 5,000 Lao Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand’s Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai detention center are under increasing pressure by Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva who, along with General Anupong Paochinda, have deployed more troops and coercive new tactics to force the refugees to return to the one-party, authoritarian military regime in Laos that they fled,” said Mr. Smith.

"The tragic and disastrous move by Prime Minister Abhisit, General Anupong Paochinda, and MOI Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul ironically comes as senior Members of the U.S. Congress, and policymakers in Washington, D.C. have once again made high-level appeals to His Majesty, Bhumibol Adulayadej,The King of Thailand, to grant asylum in Thailand to the over 5,000 Lao Hmong political refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao, and Nong Khai, Thailand," said Mr. Smith. http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGASA390022009

"Recent appeals have again been made to His Majesty, Bhumibol Adulayadej, the King of Thailand, from Washington, D.C., for his compassionate help and assistance to save the over 5,000 Lao Hmong political refugees from being forcibly returned to Laos so that the Laotian refugees can be screened by the United Nations, and UNHCR , and resettled in third countries that have agreed to sponsor them including New Zealand, France, Canada, Australia and others.," Smith said.
http://www.pr-inside.com/his-majesty-bhumibol-adulayadej-the-r1586480.htm

Smith observed: "Under the apparent orders of General Anupong Paochinda and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva elements of the Royal Thai Third Army and special army units have mobilized some 328 troops to the Lao Hmong refugee camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Thailand, and are reportedly preparing for the potential mass forced repatriation of the refugees prior to the start of the Southeast Asia Games in Laos in December. Thailand's Minister of Interior (MOI) Chavarat Charnvirakul and Deputy Minister of Interior Boonchong Wongtrairat also appear to be responsible for the latest efforts to seek to force Lao Hmong refugees from Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai back to Laos prior to the start of the SEA games."

Mr. Vaughn Vang of the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council has recounted the following appeal and statement of refugee leaders at the Lao Hmong refugee camp at Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province, Thailand, facing forced repatriation back to Laos: “Lao Hmong refugee leaders in Huay Nam Khao, who wish to remain anonymous, have stated: ‘We are the survivors, and victims of the Vietnam war and the communist military takeover of Laos which continues to this day; we will be persecuted and killed by the Lao communist government and military once we step foot on the soil of Laos, therefore, we will not go back to the bloody communist regime in Laos, the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR). Because of the LPDR regime’s political and religious persecution of the freedom-loving Lao Hmong people, the Hmong blood flows through the country of Laos as the LPDR military and secret police along with troops from Vietnam continue to kill our women and children and all those who seek to live in peace and freedom apart from the corrupt LPDR regime. Again, we will not return to Laos, . . If the Royal Thai Government does not want us to seek political asylum here on Thailand's soil, then allow us to go to another country which allows us to live there, such as Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand or the United States. If the Thai Government refuse to allow us to seek political asylum here in Thailand and refuse to allow us to seek political asylum in another country, then we want the Thai Government to kill us all here instead of returning us to Laos. If we are forced to return, we know we will slowly disappear and be tortured by the LPDR regime and Lao Peoples Army.’"
http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/10907-1257617640-mortars-slam-jungle-enclaves-in-laos-killing-wounding-6-hmong.html

Mr. Vang said further: “These Lao Hmong refugees report that Thai soldiers are now continuing to threaten, beat and rob Lao Hmong families on a daily basis in Ban Huay Nam Khao camp. Often the Thai military commanders would have 20 army or MOI soldiers on guard surrounding the homes of Lao Hmong families while other soldiers threaten, beat and rob these families of all their belongings. All their valued belongings, of the Lao Hmong refugees, have been taken away by these soldiers in many cases. On one occasion recently, in one area of the refugee camp, it is reported that more than 250 Hmong cooking forks and knives… 26 radios, cookware, cooking utensils, food, including Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and salt and money--over 28,245 baht in currency-- have been taken by Thai soldiers from the Lao Hmong refugees. The refugees are so very poor to begin with, so this is very sad and cruel and the people cannot survive without food, salt, cooking utensils, forks and knives and what little personal items and small money they have.”

"Lao Hmong refugees in the refugee camp at Huay Nam Khao have been told by Thai military officials and soldier that they must volunteer to return to Laos or face mass forced repatriation between November 17-30, 2009," said Vaughn Vang. “Many of the Lao Hmong refugees escaped from human rights violations, persecution and military attacks by the Lao Army in Laos in recent years.”
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA26/003/2007

Mr. Vang concluded: "More heavily armed Thai army soldiers and Ministry of Interior troops, 328 new soldiers, have been sent to the camp and are now telling the Lao Hmong refugees that they will all be sent back to Laos by force in the coming days and weeks this November…”

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) has again intervened in Laos with more military and security forces. Hanoi and the SRV have increased the intervention of their armed forces in support of the LPDR military regime in Laos and Lao Peoples Army attacks against civilians as well as political and religious dissidents, and minority groups hiding in the jungle and mountains of Laos. http://www.pr-inside.com/sea-games-crisis-in-laos-mldh-r1578605.htm
http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/10907-1257617640-mortars-slam-jungle-enclaves-in-laos-killing-wounding-6-hmong.html

Independent human rights organizations and journalists, including the LHHRC, Amnesty International and others, have reported that the Lao Army and VPA are also engaged in military attacks and atrocities against Laotian and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissident groups at Phou Bia Mountain, Phou Da Phao, Xieng Khouang Province, Vientiane Province, Luang Prabang Province, Khammoune Province and elsewhere in Laos. http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGUSA20070323001
http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/aidoc/ai.nsf/Index/ENGASA260042004

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