February 14, 2008

Hmong: UN Urgently Called Upon to Protect Rights

Long neglected, the Hmong need international help to protect their rights as a marginalized group within South East Asia.

Long neglected, the Hmong need international help to protect their rights as a marginalized group within South East Asia.

Below is an article published by Al Jazeera:

Leaders of Hmong refugees in Laos have called for international help to stop the "genocide" of the ethnic group.

In a letter to the UN, a copy of which Al Jazeera has obtained, Hmong leaders have complained that their population has been reduced from 18,000 to just 7,000 in recent years.

The drastic fall in numbers have been attributed to large number of deaths due to attacks by the Laotian army, diseases and poor living conditions.

The Hmongs fought against the communist nationalists in Laos during the 1960-75 civil war, and were singled out for retribution when the war ended. 

The communist authorities are now allegedly targeting them for working with the CIA after the Vietnam War spilled over into Laos.

Tens of thousands of refugees were re-settled in Western countries, including the US, Australia, Canada and France, while others were returned to Laos under UN-sponsored repatriation programmes.

Many more crossed porous local borders to take refuge in China, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar.

Thousands remained in the jungles of northern Laos, but these groups are frequently targeted by the Laotian army.

Last week [Week 6, 2008] the US state department said it was investigating claims of persecution against the Hmong people, as Radio Free Asia reported that the Laotian army now had a "shoot to kill' policy towards the ethnic group.

The UN refugee agency has previously raised concern over the forced return of Hmong refugees by Thailand.

The agency does not have an office within Laos and therefore is not able to comment on the Hmong people there.

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