May 29, 2009
Hmong: Advocate Calls for Fair Treatment of Refugees in Thailand
158 Hmong being held at Nong Khai Prison in Thailand are denied their visitation rights due to alleged Swine Flu worries.
Below is a statement issued by Joe Davy, Hmong Advocate: Against all odds, 158 Hmong refugees, mainly young innocent children, have survived over 30 months of captivity in two tiny 9 by 9 meter cells at Nong Khai jail. They have been held under 22-hour lockdown 7 days per week. They have been gassed by Lao authorities and forced to live in mosquito-infested cells suffering from all sorts of illnesses and being told on a regular basis that they will never be released unless they agree to return to Laos, the country they fled persecution from. The Hmong refugees claim they are being treated like animals with no rights whatsoever.
Now, due to a strong outpouring of compassion by local Thais and foreigners alike, Thai authorities at Nong Khai jail are forbidding foreign visitors access to the refugees. Authorities say this new precaution has been put in place because they're worried about the health of the refugees and their being exposed to swine flu.
The one thing these suicidal Hmong refugees really need at this point is some human compassion, not some lame excuse to break their spirit and reinforce the idea that they are just animals. The United States and other countries who have agreed to resettle these Hmong need to take a much more vocal stance in advocating for these poor defenseless refugees.
One woman has already suffered from a cerebral aneurysm due to the severe stressful conditions and will never be the same. Many of the other adult refugees suffer from chronic migraine headaches, the same symptoms she had before she fell unconscious last year and was rushed to the hospital.
The last thing these poor suicidal refugees need at this point is to be socially ostracized from some caring foreigners due to "swine flu" precautions.