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Laos, Hmong Crisis: US Congressional Forum on Laos To Discuss Fate of 8,000 Refugees in Thailand
A special session of the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos will be held to discuss the current crisis in Laos and Thailand facing Laotian and Hmong dissidents, political refugees and asylum seekers.
For Immediate Release:
Washington, D.C., July 28, 2007--(for event on Thursday, August 2, 2007)
Contact: Anna Jones or Philip Smith
Tele. (202) 543-1444
A special session of the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos will be held to discuss the current crisis in Laos and Thailand facing Hmong and Laotian refugees and asylum seekers. The U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos and luncheon policy event will be held in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C. 20515 on Thursday, August 2, 2007 from 11:30 P.M.-2:00 P.M.
"We are seeking to hear from key experts and policymakers on Capitol Hill as well as Lao and Hmong organizations and community leaders regarding the plight of some 8,000 Hmong and Lao refugees that are endangered in Thailand with the threat of forced repatriation back to the brutal communist regime in Laos that continues to kill and persecute many of its own people," Philip Smith, Executive Director for the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C.
"The plight of the peaceful Lao student protestors who are still jailed with other Lao dissident and opposition leaders is of great concern to many in Laotian community," stated Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc.
This special session of the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos will discuss several key topics about the current crisis situation in Laos and Thailand facing the Laotian and Hmong refugees as reported by Amnesty International (AI), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Human Rights Watch (HRW), The Bangkok Post, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the US Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2006 (CRHRP), and various international press.
"We are concerned about the eight thousand suffering Lao-Hmong refugees in Thailand as well as the thousands of refugees who are still trapped in closed military zones and are being killed and starved to death in Laos by the Communist Pathet Lao regime and its cruel military forces," stated Stephen Vang, United Hmong-Americans Human Rights Committee.
Anticipated and invited speakers will include: Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Southeast Asian scholar, historian, journalist and author of "Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, The Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos"; Stephen Vang, United Hmong-Americans for Justice and Laos-Hmong scholar and human rights activists; B. Jenks Middleton, former director US Congressional Relations, U.S. Export/Import Bank; Col. Wangyee Vang, National President, Lao Veterans of America, Inc.; Philip Smith, Executive Director, Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA); Mr. James Chang, Laos-Hmong Student Leader and Activist; Bounthanh Rathigna, President, United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc.; Schuyler Merritt, Research Director, Center for Public Policy Analysis; Vaughn Vang, Director, Lao Human Rights Council, Xai Khue Khang, Chairman of the Hmong-Lao Southeast States for Justice; Members of Congress, U.S. Congressional offices and other Washington-D.C.-
"We strongly oppose the involuntary and forced repatriation of Lao and Hmong refugees, including the 8,000 political refugees and asylum seekers at Huay Nam Khao, back to the oppressive, authoritarian regime in Laos," stated Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America, Inc.
Delegates from California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New York, Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and other states are anticipated.
Issues and topics of discussion will include:
1. Emergency status and developments regarding some 8,000 Hmong refugees in Huay Nam Khao, Phetchabun, Thailand, including recent reports regarding threats by elements of the Thai Military and Pathet Lao regime regarding their potential forced repatriation;
2. Current issues of concern to U.S. and international policymakers regarding the nation of Laos and recent developments in Southeast Asia;
3. Official state news reports regarding intensified and increased intervention by Vietnam in Laos, in support of the Pathet Lao regime; and a series of new military supported constructions efforts in eastern Laos by Vietnamese military units;
4. Increased and ongoing political violence in Laos by the Pathet Lao regime and opposition groups;
5. Updates on religious persecution issues in Laos;
6. "Material Support" issue discussion regarding interpretation, and proposed legislative changes, regarding interpretation of language in the Patriot Act and Real ID Act;
7. Other current and developing issues of concern to U.S. and international policymakers.
Seating is limited and the event is by invitation only.
It is cosponsored by the Center for Public Policy Analysis, Lao Veterans of America, Inc.; United Hmong-Americans Human Rights Committee, United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. Members of Congress and other organizations.
Invited guests should RSVP to Ms. Anna Jones or Philip Smith by fax to (202) 207-9871. Inquires should be directed to (202) 543-1444.
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The Center for Public Policy Analysis is a Washington, D.C.-based public policy think-tank and research organization focused on foreign policy and national security issues.