Laos, Hmong Crisis: US Congressional Letter to King of Thailand Released on Capitol Hill

In cooperation with Members of Congress, the Congressional Forum and follow-on events in the U.S. Congress will discuss policy issues and seek to release and discuss the U.S. Congressional letter to the King of Thailand regarding Laos and the Hmong.
By: Center for Public Policy Analysis
 
 
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Aug. 5, 2007 - PRLog -- Washington, D.C.--August 3, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact:  Anna Jones or Philip Smith
Tele. (202) 543-1444  Fax (202) 207-9871

From August 2-3, 2007, participants in the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos will discuss key issues of concern to U.S. and international policymakers on Capitol Hill regarding ethnic cleansing, mass starvation and human rights violations in Laos and the plight of Laotian and Hmong refugees in Thailand and Laos ( Location:  U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C. 20515).   In cooperation with U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and other Members of Congress, the Forum and follow-on events in the U.S. Congress will also seek to release and discuss the U.S. Congressional letter now circulating for signatures in the U.S. House of Representatives that appeals to the King of Thailand to stop the forced repatriation of Laotian and Hmong political refugees back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled.

In response to a looming humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in Laos as documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Reporters Without Borders (JSF) and other human rights and humanitarian organizations, the Congressional Forum on Laos and follow-on U.S. Congressional events in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate seek to share information, facilitate discussion and tackle major policy issues.  The events seek to focus on  the bipartisan U.S. Congressional letter by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and additional Members of the Congress now circulating for signatures in Congress to the King of Thailand that seeks to stop the imminent forced repatriation of Laotian and Hmong political refugees and asylum seakers, including the 8,000 political refugees at  Huay Nam Khao, back to the Lao communist regime that they fled.

According to Philip Smith, Executive Director for the Center for Public Policy Analysis: “ We thank U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, U.S. Congressman Ron Kind, U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter and the many other Members of Congress for their leadership on this critical human rights and humanitarian issue; This important bipartisan Congressional letter to the King of Thailand seeks to stop the forced repatriation of Laotian and Hmong asylum seekers from Thailand back to brutal and Stalinist Lao Communist regime that they fled and that, according to reports by Amnesty International and others, is now engaged in ethnic cleansing and mass starvation of its own people.”

“We thank Representatives Frank Wolf, Dana Rohrabacher, Ron Kind and other Members of Congress for this important letter regarding the plight of the 8,000 Lao and Hmong at Huay Nam Khao detention camp in Petchabun Province in Thailand.  We should head Amnesty International’s recent report on Laos and its horrific abuses against the Hmong living in the jungles of Laos, stated Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Southeast Asian scholar and one of the key note speakers at the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos on August 2.

In March of 2007, Amnesty International released a major 28 page report detailing the brutal military operations, mass starvation and human rights violations in Laos directed against the ethnic Hmong and Laotian people living in the jungle and struggling to survive attacks from the Lao Communist regime.  Human Rights Watch and the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. have also issued reports about the current crisis facing Laotian and Hmong refugees faced with forced repatriation from Thailand to Laos.

“According to statements by T. Kumar, of Amnesty International, there are only two countries in Asia that use food as a weapon against their own people--North Korea and Laos,” continued Dr. Hamilton-Merritt.

“As we are speaking at this moment, several thousand Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand are facing forced deportation back to their tormentors who run the communist Lao regime where they fled,” stated Stephen Vang, Laos-Hmong scholar, advocate and co-director of the United Hmong for Justice organization, before a packed Congressional room at the Forum event.

Clear evidence has proved that forced deportation of the Lao Hmong refugees back to Laos results in these refugees facing heavy persecution, torture and human rights abuse by the Lao government, stated Mr. Vaugh Vang of the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc., to U.S. Congressional staff and Members of Congress participating in the Laos Forum event.

“The current Laos government established by the Laos Communist party, based on the Stalinist system, continues to commit many crimes against its own citizens; they persecute Christians and arrest and jail peaceful student leaders, such as Thong Praseuth Keuakoun, of the October 1999 Lao Students Movement for Democracy,” stated Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc.


“The United States must help stop the deportations and repatriation of the Hmong refugees at Houi Nam Khao, Phetchabon, Thailand back to the Communist regime in Laos and solve the problems in Laos as soon as possible to prevent more Hmong women, children and elders from the killings by the Lao PDR gangster government… or bring all the Hmong people to the United States of America,” stated Colonel Wangyee Vang of the Lao Veterans of America, Inc.

“Communist Laos is a very bad regime; It is not wrong to try and change the government of Laos, and America has a long tradition of seeking to promote freedom and democracy and challenge dictatorships and Communist regimes like the terrible regime in Laos that is  persecuting and killing so many of the Hmong and Lao people,” stated U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in his key note address to Forum.

Laotian and Hmong leaders and delegates from across the United States are slated to attend and participate.

The following is the text of the U.S. Congressional letter to the King of Thailand:

His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej
C/O Embassy of Thailand
Washington, D.C.

Your Majesty, King of Thailand:

We are writing out of urgent concern for the plight of some 8,000 Lao-Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers at Huay Nam Khao, Phetchabun, Thailand, who are in imminent danger of forced repatriation back to the brutal communist regime in Laos that they fled.

According to statements to news reporters by the Thai Third Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jiradej Kotcharat published in July 13, 2007, these Lao-Hmong refugees will be sent back to Laos in the next two months.  These Lao-Hmong refugees face horrific mass starvation and death by the Lao regime if they return to their homeland.

We ask that you personally intercede to ensure that thee and other Lao-Hmong remain in Thailand until they can be resettled in third countries.  Thousands of Thai soldiers lives were saved because of the front line combat the Lao-Hmong engaged in with U.S. and Royal Thai ground and air force operations during the Vietnam War.  They deserve to be protected in Thailand until they are resettled in a third country.

Your intervention is urgently needed to save these Lao-Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers.  We respectfully request that you personally ensure their safety in Thailand until they are resettled elsewhere.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Rep. Frank Wolf, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. Ron Kind
(Signed By 13 Members of Congress)

Transmitted by the U.S Congress August 3, 2007.
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The U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos is cosponsored by the Center for Public Policy Analysis, United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc., Lao Veterans of America, Inc.; United Hmong-Americans for Justice, Lao Human Rights Council, Inc., Members of Congress and other organizations.

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The Center for Public Policy Analysis in a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank and research organization focused on foreign and national security policy issues.
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