Newly deployed elements of the Royal Thai Third Army, backed by Ministry of Interior ( MOI ) troops, have opened fire with machine guns on Lao Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers at a refugee camp at Ban Huay Khao, Petchabun Province, Thailand in an effort to intimidate them and force them back to the communist regime in Lao they fled.
“Today, Prime Minister Abhisit and General Anupong have, ironically, ordered the use of U.S. taxpayer-supplied M-16 assault weapons, and thousands of rounds of M-16 ammunition, to be used in the hands of elements of the Royal Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior troops against some 6,000 innocent Lao Hmong political refugees seeking asylum in Thailand,” said Philip Smith, of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ).
Smith continued: “Strangely, in clear violation of international law and the repeated appeals by Members of the U.S. Congress to His Majesty the King of Thailand, Prime Minister Abhisit and General Anupong are still trying to outdo each other to force the Lao Hmong refugees back to the Stalinist regime in Laos, where the refugees clearly do not want to return, after escaping mass starvation, military attacks by the Lao Peoples Army and systemic religious and political persecution.”
The Lao Hmong refugees were allies of the United States and Thailand during the Vietnam War and its aftermath. His Majesty, the King of Thailand, has been a staunch advocate in support of granting political asylum to Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand and fostering their resettlement in third countries like the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France and elsewhere that have agreed to host them.
“Today, on October 6, 2009, about 7:00 PM ( Bangkok Time ), Commander Boua Thid, a Thai military commander lead eleven soldiers to covertly enter into the Lao Hmong refugee camp in Huay Nam Khao to seek to conduct the arrest, abduction and forced repatriation of a Lao Hmong man by the name of Nao Soua Vue,” said Vaughn Vang of the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Mr. Vang continued “The Thai soldiers were very hostile toward Mr. Nao Soua Vue, threatening him and other Laotian and Hmong refugees in the camp, These Thai soldiers opened fire and all Thai soldier who were encircling and surrounding many of the Hmong refugees in the camp also open fire at about 15-20 feet above these refugees houses;; Reports described, the sound of the gun fire and bullet flying, almost like when the North Vietnam soldiers attacked Long Cheng air base in Laos many year ago.”
Vaughn Vang further stated: “Last night, thousands of Lao Hmong refugees in the camp in Ban Huay Nam Khao were very terrified by this attack by the Thai military and Ministry of Interior troops;, the refugees all stood up all night and cannot sleep, because they said it is unknown what is going to happen to their life in the night, and they are afraid that some of their fellow refugees may have been killed or wounded by the attack in the refugee camp.”
“We are urging the U.S and the United Nations to immediately seek to stop and reverse the Thai government’s policy under Prime Minister Abhisit and General Anupong of using increased military, physical and psychological force to repatriated these Lao Hmong refugees back to the murderous Communist Laos regime,” Vang said.
“Multiple sources in Thailand have confirmed that a heavily armed elite unit of some eleven ( 11 ) Royal Thai Third Army soldiers and Ministry of Interior ( MOI ) troops were apparently ordered by General Anupong Paojinda, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Interior Minister Chaoyarat Canvirakul to deploy to the Lao Hmong refugee camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao for the purpose of targeting specific Lao Hmong camp and clan leaders for abduction and forcible return to Laos,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C.
“Lao Hmong camp and clan leaders in Thailand specifically targeted for abduction and forced repatriation by the special Thai military unit to Laos include Mr. Nao Soua Vue and others,” Smith said. “To his dismay, Mr. Vue had several U.S.-made and supplied M-16 assault rifles pointed directly into his face by the special Thai military unit, and at the heads of his terrified wives and crying children, at the apparent direct orders of Prime Minister Abhisit and General Anupong.”
From the CPPA offices in Washington, D.C., Mr Smith stated further: “Ironically, in a dramatic display of waste, fraud and abuse, the American-made machine guns, M-16 rifles paid for by millions of dollars of American taxpayers’ money and supplied to Prime Minister Abhisit’s government in Thailand , were also fired into the air by Royal Thai Third Army troops under the command of General Anupong in the Hmong refugee camp at Petchabun within inches of the heads of innocent Lao Hmong political refugees.”
Mr. Smith continued: “The horrified and terror-stricken Lao Hmong refugees’ huts and houses were randomly strafed with bullets, and bursts of gun fire, by apparently amused and threatening Thai soldiers; for several hours, the American supplied weapons were fired at the Lao Hmong refugees into the twighlight and night with gunfire eventually illuminating the night sky over the camp; this in an effort to seek to force more Lao Hmong refugees back to the authoritarian, military junta in Laos where they fled horrific religious and political persecution.”
“As of the first week in October, this month, General Anupong and Prime Minister Thaksin. in cooperation with Royal Thai Ministry of Interior Minister Chaoyarat Canvirakul, have also ordered four more trucks of Royal Thai troops and MOI security forces to the Laos Hmong refugee’s camp in Huaj Nam Khao in an effort to prepare for the mass forced repatriation of Lao Hmong political refugees back to the repressive Stalinist regime in Laos where the refugees fled political and religious persecution,” Smith said further.
“Hundreds of new Thai military forces have been covertly moved into position in apparent preparations for a mass forced repatriation of the Lao Hmong political refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai, Thailand,” Smith observed.
“Today, many in Washington, D.C., the United States and the international community are deeply shocked and disappointed that following the official visit of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to New York and the Pittsburgh Summit in the United States, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit and General Anupong are using American.-provided M-16 automatic assault rifles and machine guns, American made guns and ammunition, against Laos Hmong refugees,” Smith stated.
“In the last 24 hours, Thai soldiers are firing their American-made and provided M-16 weapons with live ammunition into the air over the heads and make-shift houses and huts of the Lao Hmong refugees in and effort to psychologically intimidate them and force them to volunteer to return to the brutal communist regime in Laos they fled,,” Smith concluded. “There are unconfirmed reports that some Lao Hmong refugees may have been wounded, and possibly killed, in the camp by the outburst of gun fire over the last several hours and the chaos in the camp that has resulted by efforts of the Thai military and its special units to abduct and arrest key Lao Hmong camp and clan leaders.”
According to a Lao Hmong refugee camp and clan leader at Ban Huay Nam Khao who wishes to remain anonymous: “Why do we, the Lao Hmong refugees, not have the basic human rights to live and enjoy the liberty and justice as the United States and United Nations always preach to the world ?”
The Lao Hmong refugee camp leader from Huay Nam Khao said further: “ All we, the Lao and Hmong refugees, and asylum seekers, need and want are to live in peace, free from the political and religious persecution of the Laos military and communist regime; Therefore, we appeal to the United Nations and United States to immediately stop Thailand’s force repatriation policy of forcing us, the Lao Hmong refugees, back to Laos. We will not go back to the Lao communist regime that has hunted, chased and attacked, tortured and killed us and our freedom loving Laotian and Hmong people.”
Vaughn Vang, of the LHHRC from his offices in Green Bay, Wisconsin, concluded: “According to a Thai official at Huay Nam Khao, the Laotian and Hmong political refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao have been told that the Thai government will conduct a mass forced repatriation of these Lao Hmong refugees back to Laos in the coming days and weeks. The Thai government under Prime Minister Abhisit and General Anupong has ordered more soldiers to help with the forced repatriation of these political refugees back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled .”