23. Juni 2008
It is with great concern that the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) learnt that Thailand deported more than 800 Hmong refugees to Laos last weekend. "We are now particularly worried for the life and health of eight Hmong refugee families, whose deportation was called for by Laos ", said the GfbV on Monday in Göttingen. Among them is most likely the Hmong leader, Lee Xue Lee, who had constantly informed foreign journalists not only about the difficult situation of the refugees in Thailand , but also about the merciless persecution of the "jungle Hmong" in Laos . "If he falls into the hands of the Laotian authorities he is in danger of his life", warned the GfbV.
For this reason the human rights organisation has written to the foreign ministers of the EU countries, Australia , Canada and Japan with the urgent plea that they should ask their diplomatic representatives in Laos or the neighbouring countries to take action. They should obtain access to the deportees and make sure that their well-being is being properly looked after. The GfbV also wrote to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Louise Arbour, and the International Red Cross. The GfbV appealed to the Thai government not to undertake any more deportations.
About 5,000 of the approximately 8,000 Hmong refugees broke out last Friday from the camp of Huay Nam Khao in northern Thailand in the direction of Bangkok to draw attention to their desperate situation. The non-violent protest march was stopped by the military. The leaders of the march and then a further 832 refugees were then transported away towards the neighbouring country. Between 500 and 600 Hmong are still being held in local prisons. Workers of the relief organisations at the camp report that of the 5,000 protesters some 1,600 have still not returned.
Thailand regards the Hmong refugees as "economic migrants" and intends to deport them all back to Laos by the end of the year. The UNHCR is not allowed to visit the camp. The object of this is to prevent the reasons for flight from being checked in each individual case and to prevent refugee status being granted to those needing protection.
Many Hmong have had to escape from the jungle from Laos in the face of the merciless persecution by the Laotian and Vietnamese military. There are still more than 10,000 Hmong in hiding -- trying to escape and in desperate fear for their lives. They are being persecuted on account of their connection with previous Hmong fighters, who were recruited by the American CIA as mercenaries during the Vietnam war more than 30 years ago.