September 24, 2007
The Thai and Laotian governments have drawn up an official plan to forcibly repatriate Hmong refugees and relocate them in purpose-built villages outside the Laotian capital, much to the dismay of human rights organisations.
Below is an article published by Al Jazeera:
The governments of the two South East Asian nations are to jointly sponsor the project to relocate the refugees and construction on the "new villages" has already begun.
But the move has been criticised by rights groups and prompted concerns among the refugees, who say they will be persecuted if they return to
General Bovaxieng Champaphanh, deputy general in the Lao People's Army told Al Jazeera: "The allegation that there is persecution ... is all fabrication."
"We are in peace, there is no war, there is no conflict and there is no reason for people to flee the country."
General Nipat Thonglek, director of Thai border affairs, told Al Jazeera that it was "very clear" that the Hmong "are just illegal migrants in
"The good news is the Thai government and Lao government already agree that we will work together to do the right thing by sending them back."
In the 1960s, many of the Hmong were recruited by the
Thousands escaped with their families to live in the forests or fled to
Many of the refugees say they fear persecution if they return to
In August , General
"It is a burden in every way for us," he said.
So far eleven families have been resettled in a remote purpose built village in
The repatriation plan has been criticised by Human Rights Watch, the US-based rights organisation.
Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia director, said in a statement: "It is shocking that
Thai officials are monitoring their welfare, but the UN refugee agency and other international human rights groups have not been given access to them.
Kia Pao Her, who alongside his family was recently repatriated as part of the project, told Al Jazeera: "Before coming back from
But without international monitoring, the world may never know the fate of those in the remote mountains of