remaining Hmong refugees in Ban Huay Namkhao detention camp, in Thailand’s
Phetchabun province, have asserted that they will not volunteer to go back to
Laos even though they are offered cash assistance by Thai authorities. According to 19 year-old Va Xiong, those who
went back to Laos earlier this year volunteered to do so because they received
between 3,000 and 5,000 Baht each, which is considered a lot of money for a family of ten who could receive as much as
thirty thousand to fifty thousand Baht.
Currently there are approximately 6,000 Hmong refugees remaining in
HuayNamkhao. Va Xiong said his people will flee the camp and live in hiding in
jungles if Thai authorities force them to return to Laos. During the last three-four months, over 400
Hmong refugees have left the camp to live in the jungles, added Va Xiong. Many
of them were former soldiers or children of former soldiers who
fought along side US troops or CIA agents during the Vietnam War. So they fear
they will be persecuted by the Lao government if they return home. Va Xiong
added that their only wish
is to resettle in the United States.
government of Laos, on the other hand, insists that there is no
persecution toward the Hmong returnees, and that there are no anti-government groups in Laos. Authorities maintain they welcome all those who return
voluntarily. Similarly, the Thai
government denies that its authorities have ever forcibly repatriated the refugees.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.