News

US Concerned at Possible Expulsion of Hmong by Thailand

The Hmong, who fear persecution by the Laotian government, have been living in a camp in northern Thailand.

Hmong refugees collect water at Huay Nam Khao village in Thailand's northeastern province of Petchabun (file photo)
Hmong refugees collect water at Huay Nam Khao village in Thailand's northeastern province of Petchabun (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

The U.S. State Department has expressed deep concern about reports that Thailand is preparing to deport more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong from Laos back to that country by the end of the year.  The Hmong, who fear persecution by the Laotian government, have been living in a camp in northern Thailand.

The State Department has joined several U.S. Senators and human rights advocates in expressing concern about what officials say could be the imminent deportation of the ethnic Hmong back to Laos.

Long housed at a camp in Thailand's northern Petchabun province, the Hmong have been seeking asylum based on claims they face persecution by Laos because members of the ethnic group fought alongside the United States against communist forces during the Vietnam war.

Thailand has depicted the Hmong as economic migrants but has refused access to them by United Nations officials or any other third party to determine if they are political refugees.  A Thai military spokesman said Wednesday they will be repatriated in about a week.

State Department Acting Spokesman Mark Toner said the United States is deeply concerned about reports of the impending action, which he said would be contrary to Thai traditions and international legal principles.

"Forced returns of persons entitled to protection is inconsistent with international practice and Thailand's long history of protection of refugees," he said. "Such returns would violate the international principle of 'non-refoulement' and imperil the well-being of many individuals.  The United States and others have been working actively with the governments of Thailand and Laos to find a mutually-acceptable resolution in line with international principles."

Toner said the United States has raised concerns with Thailand about the Hmong for two years, most recently during a visit to Bangkok by Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Eric Schwartz only a few days ago.

He said U.S. officials are confident acceptable solutions can be found, but said they require that the Thai government refrain from the involuntary return of those who merit protection.

The spokesman said the United States is also concerned about the potential return of 158 ethnic Hmong being held at a Thai detention center who do have U.N. refugee status.

This week, a bipartisan group of nine U.S. Senators sent a letter to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva cautioning against any early deportation move, and criticizing the lack of transparency in the screening process for the Hmong.

An Amnesty International spokeswoman says the rights group is "appalled" by the prospect of the return of the ethnic Hmong, many of whom she said have valid fears of persecution if they are returned to Laos.

The Washington based group, Refugees International, said expulsion of the Hmong would be a serious violation of international law and a severe blot on Thailand's reputation.

The Laotian government has steadfastly denied the Hmong would face reprisals.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs