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Pattaya Daily News

28 December 2009 :: 14:12:36 pm 3208

Thailand Begins Repatriation of Hmong

Monday morning Thailand began the repatriation processing of more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong to Laos.
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Col Thana Charuwat, coordinator of the operation, told reporters at an army centre 12 kilometres from Huay Nam Khao, an ethnic Hmong camp in the northern province of Phetchabun that the operation began at 5.30am with 5,000 Thai Army troops assisting.

He said the soldiers were unarmed, but equipped with shields and batons to prevent violent resistance by some Hmong who may refuse to be deported.

If the camp residents still resist, the authorities will force them to return to Lao. The authorities indicated that 4,506 Hmong are be deported from the camp, Reportedly 2,100 have agreed to be sent back while 2406 remain unwilling, and Thai officials are trying to persuade them.

Col Thana, affirming that the repatriation process would be carried out in accordance with international standards, said the operation was expected to last only one day. A TNA reporter at the army centre at Khek Noi, the furthest point media were allowed, witnessed trucks filled with soldiers en route to the Hmong camp.

Col Thana said the Hmong group would be removed from Huay Nam Khao camp by truck to Phokun Pha Muang military base near Phetchabun town before transferring by bus to immigration headquarters in Nong Khai before crossing the Mekong River border to Laos at the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier asserted that the repatriation of ethnic Hmong to Laos would be carried out under human rights principles and legal procedures.

Phetchabun, the 28th of December 2009 [TNA]: The premier said Thailand has clear principles on the matter and would have no problem to clarifiy the issue to the international community. Thailand claims most of the Hmong at the camp have no legitimate claim to refugee status, but are simply economic migrants who have entered the country illegally.

Many men among the Hmong helped the United States and Thailand as soldiers fighting against the Communist Pathet Lao (Lao Peoples’ Army) during the Indochina War in the 1960s and 1970s.

After the Communist victory, many Hmong fled their places of birth and settled in the US and other western countries, while many remain in Thailand and are reluctant to return to their homeland for fear that the Lao government might persecute them. (TNA)

Reporter : Methawee   Photo : Methawee   Category : Thailand News

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