January 12, 2010
Below is an article published by Wausau Daily Herald:
Communication from a group of Hmong people deported from Thailand two weeks ago has been both spotty and disturbing, say family members here.
More than 4,000 Hmong who had been living in a camp in Phetchabun, Thailand, were sent to Laos on Dec. 28. Among those deported were 158 who have been identified by the United Nations as refugees because they allied with the United States during the Secret War in Laos. Those people were held separately from the larger group.
Chungsou Her, 50, of Wausau, has family members in the group now in Laos. His cousin, Cheng Leng Her, was separated from the
group and his family in Thailand. Chungsou hadn't heard from Cheng Leng for two weeks, but finally talked to him via cell phone Saturday night.
Cheng Leng said he had been reunited with his family in Laos, but other Hmong leaders were being held apart from the main group. He told Chungsou that they were receiving "counseling."
Although Cheng Leng was with his family, he was cautious about what he told Chungsou. "He was afraid that (Lao authorities) were listening," Chungsou said.
Several relatives of Pang Chai Yang, 52, of Stevens Point, also were part of the repatriation. Yang, who spoke through an interpreter, said he had heard late last week from a cousin who called using a cell phone. The cousin said she was being held in a camp in Laos and also reported that some of the group's men, including former soldiers, had been taken away by Lao security forces.
That's consistent with messages received by Philip Smith, the director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. His sources from within the group, also using cell phones, have said many men who were former soldiers have been interrogated and beaten.
"A number of them have disappeared, and their whereabouts are unknown," Smith said Friday in a telephone interview.
Smith added that he expected communication between his sources and the United States to end soon because cell
phone batteries were running low and Hmong detainees weren't allowed to recharge them.
Radio Free Asia reported last week that a Lao government spokesman said the concerns for the safety of the Hmong people were groundless, and they would be housed in resettlement villages.