Thai authorities reaffirm that they will employ any possible measures, as appropriate, to repatriate all Hmong refugees from Huay Namkhao (HNK) detention camp to Laos and close the camp by the end of this year.
Colonel Pasithiphong Moundee , a consultant to the special unit of the Thai 3rd Regional Army, who is in charge of the Huay Namkhao temporary camp in the Khaokhor District of Phetchaboun Province in northeastern Thailand, confirmed that Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has set forth a policy, and commanded the special unit of the Thai 3rd Regional Army, to employ any possible measures, as appropriate, to return all Hmongs in HNK camp to Laos and to close the camp completely by the end of 2009.
that whatever measures his military will take will aim at achieving the goal
of implementing the agreement reached by the Lao and Thai governments that they will work together to complete the repatriation of all
Hmongs refugees by the end of this year.
Colonel Pasithiphong further said that, from now until the end of the year, those Hmongs who till have not made the decision to voluntarily go back to Laos will have to be considered as illegal immigrants. And that means that Thai authorities will apply immigration laws to those Hmongs, which will enable them to send them back to Laos immediately. He said that is the only measure Thai authorities can use in order to accomplish their goal of sending all Hmongs at HNK camp back to Laos.
Moreover, on August 7, a high-ranking Lao delegation led by Brigadier General Bouaxieng Champaphanh, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Lao Armed Forces, visited Huay Namkhao camp for the second time, to meet with key leaders of Hmongs refugees in an effort to persuade all Hmongs to voluntarily return to Laos. He told the Hmong leaders that the Lao government has changed its policy regarding the Hmong refugees by forgiving them of any kind of crimes or offenses, and will take good care of them as well as guarantee the safety of all Hmongs who return to Laos.
However, even this visit is unlikely to bring a significant result considering that since his last visit, back in February, there have been only 1,000 Hmongs who returned to Laos, while there are more than 4,600 remaining in the camp. It is apparent that these Hmongs do not believe in Brigadier General Bouaxieng's assurance; hence, they request that UNHCR representatives take part in the screening of the refugees' status to consider which group of Hmongs should be repatriated and which one should be allowed to stay.