Thailand's Prime Minister reaffirmed that his government will send all Hmongs at Huay Namkhao temporary refugee camp back to Laos under applicable laws, but not without consideration for their human rights.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who chaired Thailand's Security Council meeting on December 23, said his government will continue to implement the repatriation plan of all Hmongs at Huay Namkhao temporary detention camp in the Khaokhor District of Phetchaboun Province in northeastern Thailand, as soon as possible.
He also reaffirmed that the repatriation of these Hmongs will be implemented in accordance with Thai immigration laws and human rights practices. The Prime Minister added, however, that he could not set the exact deadline for the completion of the repatriation.
officials have made clear that the repatriation of these Hmongs will be on
voluntary basis. At the same time, they have offered 5,000 baht to those who
voluntarily go back to Laos, while the Lao government provides cash assistance
of 300,000 kip.
In the past, the government of Laos has also provided additional help to those who have returned voluntarily.The refugees who still had their houses and relatives to go back to have been sent back to their former villages. Those who had nothing left to return to have been resettled in a village the government has built for the returnees in Ban Phalak, Kasi District, Vientiane Province, where the Lao government provided them with all their basic needs.
However, the roughly 4,000 remaining refugees at Huay Namkhao are still unwilling to go back to Laos. Most of them refuse to return, citing fear for their safety once they are in Laos. Instead, they rally and resist cooperation with Thai authorities in all aspects. So far more than 3,000 Hmongs have been repatriated to Laos from Huay Namkhao.
A key Hmong leader has previously confirmed to our VOA Bangkok stringer that Thai authorities have employed various measures to force them to go back to Laos, but only a small number of the remaining refugees have volunteered to return. Most have refused 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.
A key Hmong leader at the camp has told our stringer in Bangkok that a Thai military has brought some 30 buses and trucks and parked them around the Huay Namkhao camp, causing fear among the Hmong refugees that they will be surely forced to go back to Laos.