US - INVOLUNTARY DEPORTATION OF LAO HMONG: The United States is deeply concerned about reports of the imminent and involuntary deportation by Thai authorities of 4,200 ethnic Lao Hmong to Laos from Huay Nam Khao Camp in Petchabun province, Thailand. We note that the Royal Thai Government had determined that many of the Hmong at Huay Nam Khao are in need of protection. The United States is also concerned about the situation of the 158 ethnic Hmong in a Thai immigration detention facility in Nong Khai province, Thailand, all of whom have been determined by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees to be refugees in need of protection. Forced returns of persons entitled to protection is inconsistent with international practice and Thailand’s long history of protection of refugees.
THAILAND - HMONG: Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is defending a plan to deport
thousands of Hmong refugees in the wake of mounting international
Mr. Abhisit said Thursday that Thailand will not violate the human
rights of the refugees who have been living at a camp in northern
On Wednesday, a Thai military spokesman said the 4,000 refugees will be
sent home to Laos within the next week. However, the Hmong have been
seeking asylum based on claims they face persecution by the communist
CHINA - DISSIDENT: China has sentenced prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo to 11-years in prison on subversion charges after he called for sweeping political reforms and an end to Communist Party dominance. Liu was the co-author of an unusually direct appeal for political liberalization in China called Charter 08. He was detained last December, just before its release. Thousands have signed the charter over the past year, even though a news blackout and Internet censorship have left most Chinese unaware it exists. On Friday, a Beijing court issued the sentence following a two-hour trial earlier in the week, during which prosecutors accused Liu of "serious crimes."
AFGHANISTAN - US SOLDIER: The Taliban has released a video purportedly showing a U.S. soldier who
was captured in Afghanistan almost six months ago.
Private Bowe Bergdahl (from the U.S. state of Idaho) disappeared in
late June after leaving his base camp in Paktikawith three Afghans.
In the video, released Friday, a man wearing a helmet, sunglasses and
an army uniform identifies himself as the 23-year-old Bergdahl.
He says Afghanistan will become America's "next Vietnam unless the
American people stand up and stop all this nonsense."
CHRISTMAS: The Vatican says Pope Benedict's traditonal Christmas blessing will go
on as planned Friday, despite an indicent at the Christmas eve mass
when a woman jumped a barricade and knocked down the pontiff in St.
The pope was unhurt, but 87-year-old French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray was also knocked over and taken away with a broken leg.
A Vatican spokesman said Friday the woman, (Susanna Maiolo,)
a 25-year-old Italian-Swiss national, was not armed, but he said she
was psychologically unstable and had been taken to a hospital.
PAKISTAN - US: Investigators in Pakistan are getting more time to question five young Americans suspected of trying to join a militant group. A Pakistani court in Punjab province Friday granted police another ten days to interrogate the men. The five, all from the Washington, DC area, were arrested earlier this month in Sargodha at the home of a leader of the banned militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad (Army of the Prophet Mohammad). Police say the men used Internet sites to try to contact militants in Pakistan before traveling there from the U.S. in late November.
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