Elements of the Royal Thai Third Army and Thai military, at the apparent orders of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit, Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Army Chief General Anupong, have dramatically increased pressure and coercive measures on Lao Hmong refugees prior to the Southeast Asia Games (SEAG or SEA Games)as more soldiers are being sent to Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai, Thailand.
Prior to the SEA Games, in recent weeks, elements of the Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior have loaded and removed nearly a half dozen Army truck loads of forks, knives and spoons that have been seized and taken from the 5,000 some refugees as preparations mount for their forced repatriation to Laos. Lao Hmong refugees are unable to bury their dead, lacking even forks or spoons to dig the graves of loved ones. Religious ceremonies and burial rites are being banned to Christians and Animist believers. Medical care is being denied and withheld to the refugees.
Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Army Chief-of-Staff General Anupong Paochinda, Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, and Ministry of Interior (MOI) Minister Chavarat Charnvirakuland and other Thai policymakers have deployed hundreds more special troops to the Lao Hmong refugee camps and are coercing and threatening to force all Lao Hmong refugees back to the communist regime in Laos they fled before the start of the SEA Games or by the end of this year.
A 72 year old Lao Hmong refugee who fled political and religious persecution, and Lao military attacks in Laos, died in Huay Nam Khao refugee camp in Thailand after being refused medial treatment by Thai Army soldiers who had beaten and robbed him and his family after he refused to volunteer to return to Laos.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Army Chief-of-Staff General Anupong Paochinda, Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, and Ministry of Interior (MOI) Minister Chavarat Charnvirakuland and other Thai policymakers have deployed hundreds more special troops to the Lao Hmong refugee camps and are coercing and threatening to force all Lao Hmong refugees back to the communist regime in Laos they fled before the start of the SEA Games or by the end of this year. http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/11896-1258503373-laos-thailand-refugee-crisis-sea-games-may-suffer-more-political-violence-unrest.html
"Thai authorities have kept Lao Hmong refugees in fear and uncertainty for years to pressure them into giving up hope of refuge in Thailand or resettlement elsewhere," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The government should immediately end this immoral and unlawful policy."
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has again issued an urgent appeal and letter to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit for the release of the Lao Hmong refugees and Nong Khai and for the screening and resettlement of Lao Hmong political refugees at Huay Nam Khao.http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/HRW/ea049ac4d12cc47a0f08e37151bcc9d7.htm
On November 18th, Mr. Song Lu Vang suffered a heart attack following beatings and physical abuse by Thai Army soldiers seeking to force him and his family back to the communist regime in Laos they fled. The Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior soldiers rampaged through his makeshift home and confiscated all of his personal possessions, including religious items and a radio. Mr. Song Lu Vang, an former combat veteran of the U.S. Secret Army in Laos, who served with U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam
War, died late on November 18th after he and his family were denied medical care by Thai Third Army and Ministry of Interior troops and the refugee camp commander. The attack and rampage through Mr. Vang’s makeshift hut by the Thai soldiers left the family without even a fork, knife or spoon—or a cooking utensil--- to seek to dig Mr. Vang’s grave following his death later in the day.
"The Thai soldiers ordered Mr. Song Lu Vang and his family to volunteer to return to Laos now and beat him and his family and took everything he owned, including the family’s prized religious items, radio, and all their jewelry and cooking utensils; they did not care that Mr. Vang was a veteran who had helped the Thai Army and the United States Central Intelligence Agency and military during the Vietnam War," said Vaughn Vang of the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council, Inc. (LHHRC) in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Mr. Song Lu Vang has surviving family members in the United States, including Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Mr. Vaughn Vang continued: "Mr. Vang suffered a heart attack and the Thai soldiers just laughed and would not allow him to be given any medical treatment or care, so he died later in the day after many hours of terrible pain and the many tears and crying of his Hmong family; and now the Thai Army soldiers will not allow the family to even conduct our Lao Hmong traditional religious and cultural ceremonies to bury him. The family, and none of the Lao Hmong refugees in the camp, have even a single shovel, fork or knife to dig his grave to bury him. All the Thai soldiers have confiscated all the cooking utensils and forks and knives as they prepare to mobilize their troops to force the over 5,000 refugees at Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai back to Laos in the coming days and weeks."
"The Lao Hmong refugees in Huay Nam Khao, including Song Lu Vang and his family, do not want to return to the communist regime in Laos where they fled attacks and religious and political persecution. Now, more and more military attacks have occurred against the Lao Hmong Christians and Animist dissident groups and other unarmed civilians hiding in Phou Bia and Phou Da Phao mountain areas in Laos in recent weeks," said Vaughn Vang. "Now before the SEA Games, we are especially appealing to President Obama and the international community to help urge the Lao government to stop these intensified military attacks on religious believers and political dissidents as well as ordinary Laotian and Hmong civilians who wish to live in peace and freedom away from the corrupt one-party communist regime in control of Laos." http://www.pr-inside.com/laos-8-lao-hmong-children-captured-r1434824.htm
“Thailand should open the door to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees and allow all of the over 5,000 Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand to be screened and resettled in the third countries that have agreed to grant them political asylum,”
"Thailand should open the door to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees and allow all of the over 5,000 Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand to be screened and resettled in the third countries that have agreed to grant them political asylum," said Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI). "Many are veterans or descendants of veterans who served in the Royal Lao Army and 'U.S. Secret Army' in Laos during the Vietnam War in defense of the Kingdom of Laos and Thailand from invading divisions from North Vietnam and the North Vietnamese Army from Hanoi."
"Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders ( MSF ), the UNHCR, Amnesty International and others have appealed to the Royal Thai Government to stop the forced repatriation of the Lao Hmong refugees at Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai and allow them instead to be resettled in Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States," Colonel Wangyee Vang stated.
The SEA Games are slated to start in December in Vientiane at a time when the Thai and Lao armies have increased their attacks, persecution and forced repatriation of Lao and Hmong dissidents as well as political refugees and asylum seekers.
"Mr. Song Lu Vang, 72 years old, was a former soldier who was trained in Thailand by the Thai military and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and U.S. Special Forces to defend the Kingdom of Laos and Kingdom of Thailand during the Vietnam War; Thai soldiers from the Third Army in Thailand as well as Ministry of Interior troops beat and coerced Mr. Vang’s family to make them volunteer to return to Laos, which they refused. Thereafter, the Thai soldiers threatened, beat and violently robbed Mr. Vang and his family of what little personal items they had of value, including jewelry, cooking utensils and personal items, including a radio that the family used to list to the news and music," said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C.
"Mr. Vang suffered a heart attack after refusing to volunteer to return to Laos and the Thai soldiers refused to allow him medical treatment or medicine in Huay Nam Khao. Tragically, he died late on November 18th after suffering most of the day without medical care in the refugee camp in Thailand, a country that he served in defense of as veteran of the Vietnam War in Laos. Mr. Vang served in defense of the Kingdom of Laos and the Kingdom of Thailand with U.S. clandestine and military forces during the Vietnam War. He and his children deserved better treatment than this deplorable injustice, " said Smith.
According to Smith: "The Thai military has confiscated most of the forks, spoons, cooking utensils, shovels and other items of the Lao Hmong refugees. Since October, over 5 truck loads of forks and knives have been taken from the refugees on Thai Army trucks from the camp on the apparent orders of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit, Fefense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Army General Anupong in their efforts to begin the process of forcing more Lao Hmong refugees back to Laos prior to the start of the SEA Games or before the end of this year as they seem to have threatened. So, now the refugees do not even have forks or knives to dig Mr. Vang’s grave."
Commenting on the violation of the religious freedom of the Lao Hmong refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai, Smith continued: " Moreover, we have been informed from sources inside Thailand and the camp, as well as the family there and in the United States, that the Thai soldiers and the Thai Camp commander are refusing to allow Mr. Vang’s family to conduct Hmong traditional Animist and Christian religious ceremonies to bury him until all the family agrees to volunteer to return to Laos, including all of his sons. So right now, Mr. Vang is lying dead on the floor of the family hut in the camp with the Thai soldiers refusing to allow his family or the other Hmong refugees conduct their traditional Animist and Christian religious ceremonies to bury Song Lu Vang with dignity, love and honor."
Smith further observed: "Sadly, this is yet another example, of the staggering cruelty and brutality being inflicted on Lao Hmong political refugees in Thailand at Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai. This is a sadistic and horrific effort by elements of the Thai Third Army under the apparent orders of Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, General Anupong Paochinda, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and MOI Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul to seek to coerce and forced the Lao Hmong refugees to return to the brutal communist regime in Laos that they fled prior to the start of the SEA Games or by the end of this year. These human rights violations and abuse, including religious freedom violations, is the result of a very misguided repatriation policy on the part of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit and Army Chief of Staff General Anupong Paochinda that is clearly backfiring and resulting in unfortunate human suffering. Clearly, this deplorable repatriation policy of the Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand is not consistent with His Majesty, Bhumibol Adulayadej, the King of Thailand
’s traditional compassionate assistance to the Lao Hmong refugees and the granting of asylum and resettlement opportunities to them abroad in third countries such as Canada, France, New Zealand, Australia and the United States."
U.S. President Barack Obama has been urged to address the Laos, Hmong crisis during his Asia trip and visit to Singapore by Laotian student, human rights and humanitarian organizations. President Obama is also being urged to address the current Lao Hmong refugee crisis in Thailand where some 5,000 Lao Hmong political refugees face forced repatriation back to the Stalinist regime in Laos that they fled. http://www.pr-inside.com/president-obama-urged-to-address-laos-r1583086.htm
The Peoples Army of Vietnam has sent more troops to Laos from Hanoi to assist the LPDR regime during recent protests, marches and anti-government meetings and rallies in Vientiane and elsewhere in Laos that have followed the 10th anniversary of the Laos Students Movement for Democracy peaceful protests of October 1999 and the start of the SEA Games in Laos.
The human rights, humanitarian and non-profit NGOs concerned about the upswing in political and institutional violence in Laos and Thailand directed against Lao and Hmong political refugees, dissidents and asylum seekers, include the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR), Lao Hmong Human Rights Council (LHHRC), the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI), Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVA), Hmong Advance, Inc. (HA), Hmong Advancement, Inc. (HAI), United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. (ULDL), Laos Institute for Democracy (LIFD, Laotian Community of Minnesota (LCMN),Lao Students Movement for Democracy (LSMD), Hmong Human Rights (HHR) organization, Lao and Hmong student organizations, the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and others.
"Today, 17 November, marks three years since a group of recognized Lao Hmong refugees were rounded up in Bangkok for deportation. The group, now totalling 158, have been in detention ever since. UNHCR calls on all parties to play their part in finding a humanitarian solution to their plight and end the detention of this group of children, women and men who are being held in two cells in an immigration detention centre in Nong Khai, Thailand," said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Andrej Mahecic at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva this past week.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the UNHCR, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Center for Public Policy Analysis and a coalition of Lao and Hmong non-governmental organizations have issued international appeals urging the Thai military and government to cease the forced repatriation of Lao Hmong refugees from Nong KHai and Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province, Thailand to Laos.
Leading scholars as well as humanitarian and refugee advocates have also issued international appeals urging the release of Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand including Ambassador H. Eugene Douglas, Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, B. Jenkins Middleton, Kay Danes, Joe Davy, and former Foreign Service Officers Edmund McWilliams, Michael Benge, Bill Laurie and others.
"Ironically, the tragic and disastrous move by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, Army General Anupong Paochinda, and MOI Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul, comes as senior Members of the U.S. Congress, and policymakers in Washington, D.C. have once again made high-level appeals to His Majesty, Bhumibol Adulayadej,The King of Thailand, to grant asylum in Thailand to the over 5,000 Lao Hmong political refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao, and Nong Khai, Thailand," said Mr. Smith. http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGASA390022009
"Recent appeals have again been made to His Majesty, Bhumibol Adulayadej, the King of Thailand, from Washington, D.C., for his compassionate help and assistance to save the over 5,000 Lao Hmong political refugees from being forcibly returned to Laos so that the Laotian refugees can be screened by the United Nations, and UNHCR , and resettled in third countries that have agreed to sponsor them including New Zealand, France, Canada, Australia and others.," Mr. Philip Smith concluded.
The military junta in Laos has been cited at one of the most corrupt regime's in the world in a recent study by Transparency International (TI).