Wednesday, August 29, 2007 (For Event on Thursday, August 30, 2007)
Contact: Ms. Anna Jones or Ms. Jade Lee
Tele. (202) 543-1444 Fax (202) 207-9871
A special session of the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos will be held in the U.S. Senate, ( Dirksen SOB, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C. 20510) , from 9:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M. on Thursday, August 30, 2007 to discuss the plight of some 8,000 Lao-Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers facing possible forced repatriation from Ban Huay Nam Khao, and Nong Khai, Thailand back to the Communist regime in Laos that they fled.
Topics will also include discussion of a potential legislative action in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate aimed at punitive U.S. economic and trade sanctions against the Lao regime for its recent political and religious persecution, mass starvation and killing of thousands of innocent and unarmed Lao and Hmong dissidents and opposition group members as documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others.
“Clearly, the U.S. Congress—both House and Senate—are moving rapidly and will likely take further action to seek to address the emergency crisis facing the Lao-Hmong refugees and asylum seekers at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Nong Khai and elsewhere in Thailand and Laos,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. “The ongoing persecution, mass starvation and killing of unarmed Lao and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissidents by the Lao regime as documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Crosswalk, and others has raised serious concerns and the U.S. Congress is likely to move to seek to address these horrific acts of ethnic cleansing, human rights violations and religious persecution,”
The Forum will also discuss pending new potential legislation in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate seeking to appeal directly to His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, and General Surayud Chulanont, Prime Minister of Thailand, to intervene to help stop the forced or involuntary repatriation of these 8,000 Lao-Hmong refugees. The pending legislation and forthcoming follow-on U.S. Congressional letters will also likely appeal to, and urge, Thai Supreme Commander Boonsang Niempradit and Lt. Gen. Jiradej Kotcharat, Commander of the Thai Third Regional Army to work with the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), and other humanitarian groups to seek to resettle the Lao- Hmong refugees in Australia and other third countries that have agreed to grant them asylum.
Following a recent hunger strike, on August 24, 2007, Amnesty International issued another human rights Urgent Action appeal regarding the dire plight of 149 Lao Hmong refugees detained at Nong Khai Immigration Center and some 8,000 Lao-Hmong refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province, Thailand.
Invited speakers and participants will include senior Members of Congress, U.S. Congressional staff, Administration officials, current and retired U.S. Department of Defense, State and Central Intelligence Agency officials, policymakers, non-governmental organizations and Lao and Hmong community leaders.
The event follows the recent release of a U.S. Congressional letter sent to His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, to appeal for his emergency humanitarian help to stop the forced or involuntary repatriation of the 8,000 Lao-Hmong refugees from Thailand to Laos. The August 2007 letter was signed by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) , Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and other Members of Congress. Copies of the U.S. Congressional letter, signed by thirteen Members of Congress, were sent directly by the U.S. Congress to His Excellency Krit Garnjana Goonchorn, Royal Thai Ambassador to the United States, in Washington, D.C. for transmission to His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand.
"We are very concerned about the plight of the Hmong and Lao refugees in Thailand and Members of Congress have urged HIs Majesty the King of Thailand with his compassion and wisdom to help stop the forced repatriation of Lao and Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers back to the brutal communist dictatorship that continues to starve and kill them," stated Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America, Inc.
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The Center for Public Policy Analysis is a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank focused on foreign and national secuirty policy.