The New York Times has just reported that Thailand Prepares to Send 4,000 Hmong to Laos this week. Things do not sound good. I’m sure many of our students’ families are concerned.
Here are some excerpts from the Times article (The Wall Street Journal has just run a similar article titled Thailand Sends Hmong Back to Laos):
Armed with riot shields and batons, the Thai military began early Monday to forcibly return 4,000 Hmong asylum seekers to Laos in a lingering echo of the Vietnam War.
Thailand moved ahead with the repatriation despite complaints from the United States, the United Nations, and human rights and aid groups. It was doing so although it has determined that some asylum seekers were eligible for refugee status, human rights groups said.
“This forced repatriation would place the refugees in serious danger of persecution at the hands of the Lao authorities, who to this day have not forgiven the Hmong for being dedicated allies of the United States during the Vietnam War,” Joel R. Charny, acting president of Refugees International, an advocacy group in Washington, said in a statement.
Speaking by telephone from Washington on Sunday, Eric P. Schwartz, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, said that he had met with officials in Thailand last week and that the United States was prepared to assist both with questions of third-country asylum and with the return to Laos of economic migrants. He said Thailand had rejected this offer.
“We recognize the challenge of irregular migration that the government of Thailand faces, but there is absolutely no need to resort to these kinds of measures,” he said.