Thai military authorities in charge of overseeing the Huay Namkhao temporary detention camp in the Khaokhor District of Phetchaboun Province in northeastern Thailand admitted that they would not be able to repatriate all Hmong residents of the camp to Laos by the end of the year as planned, because the majority of the remaining 4,000+ refugees are still unwilling to go back, and resist all cooperation with Thai authorities,
Moreover, Thai officials have made clear earlier that they
will not employ a forceful measure to send the refugees back to Laos, so the goal of completing repatriation by year's end will be impossible to reach.
A key Hmong leader, however, has insisted to our VOA Bangkok stringer that Thai authorities
have employed various measures to force them to go back to Laos. So only a small number of the remaining refugees have volunteered to return. Most refuse citing fear for their safety once they are in Laos. Therefore, Hmong leaders call for involvement and participation in the repatriation process by the United Nations and other international organizations to ensure the safety of the returnees.
However, Thai and Lao authorities have said
that they will absolutely not allow any third party to be involved with the Huay Namkhao Hmongs issue as they consider these Hmongs to be illegal immigrants
who sneaked into Thailand, not refugees who fled Laos due to war or political
conflicts. Both governments further insist that the Hmongs at Huay Namkhao have to go back to Laos, and that is their only choice.
Thai authorities have always maintained
that they will repatriate all Huay Namkhao Hmongs without
differentiating between those who used to serve with the CIA and those who did not,
despite the fact that an initial investigation conducted last
summer reveals that about 8% of the Huay Namkhao Hmongs could have been
involved with the CIA in Laos during the Indochina war.
For their part,Lao authorities have reiterated their willingness and readiness to receive the Hmong refugees back any time.
So far more than 3,000 Hmongs have been repatriated to Laos from Huay Namkhao. Some have been sent back to their former villages upon their return. Others have been resettled in a village the government built for the returnees in Ban Phalak, Kasi District, Vientiane Province.