Hmong Resettlement Still Possible

The Thai prime minister says Hmong repatriated to Laos could still be resettled to third countries.

Hmong-Repatriation-IV-305.jpg A refugee sits inside a truck during the operation to deport Hmong from a camp in Thailand's Petchabun province, Dec. 28, 2009.

BANGKOK—More than 150 Lao Hmong asylum-seekers just repatriated from Thailand could still be resettled to third countries, according to the Thai prime minister.

“The people who went from Nong Khai—who perhaps would pose more concern—before we sent them back we allowed third countries to interview [them], and they continue to work with the Lao government now on resettlement in third countries,” Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said.

Vejjajiva addressed a group of foreign journalists and community members on the security and safety of the Hmong on Thursday evening at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bangkok.

He said countries interested in receiving the Hmong for resettlement “can work it out with the Lao government,” an arrangement the Thai government agreed to with Laos and the third countries before repatriating the group.

But Vejjajiva also indicated that Lao leaders are frustrated by the sudden international attention and lack of progress in resettlement talks.

“When I talked to the leaders in Laos, they said that if these countries were serious about working on resettlement they should have accepted these people long ago, and that a lot of them weren’t able to go because they weren’t issued visas.”

When asked if the Lao government intended to allow the Hmong to resettle, Vejjajiva said he sees “no reason that they shouldn’t [abide by this agreement],” adding that Bangkok is continuing to monitor the progress of talks between Laos and potential third-country candidates for resettlement.

“There is no gap of understanding between us and Laos, and I think we should put an end to this chapter,” he said.

‘Changed their minds’

Vejjajiva’s statement contradicts claims made by Lao Foreign Ministry spokesman Khenthong Nuanthasing on Monday indicating that all 158 members of the group had “changed their minds” and agreed to settle in their homeland.

On Wednesday, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Kitty Mackinsey said the agency has been unable to meet with the repatriated Hmong to determine if the claims by the Lao Foreign Ministry were true.

“We would like to get access to them to help facilitate their resettlement, because the resettlement countries still are offering them places to go.... The last time we talked to them they did want to go for resettlement,” Mackinsey said.

The 158, all of whom have been designated "people of concern" by the UNHCR and could face persecution in Laos, were repatriated from Thailand on Dec. 28 along with a larger group from a camp in Petchabun totaling 4,711.

They had been held in a detention center overseen by immigration police in Nong Khai, Thailand.

Thai military units equipped with riot shields and batons entered a refugee camp at Huay Nam Khao in Petchabun and forced thousands of Hmong onto buses, sending them back across the Mekong River into Laos.

The forced repatriations ended years of uncertainty over the status of the Hmong.

Known as America’s “forgotten allies,” the Hmong sided with the United States during the Vietnam War and many fled Laos in 1975 when the communist Pathet Lao took power.

Tens of thousands have since been resettled in the United States.

Many Hmong say they fear persecution from the Lao government because of their Vietnam War-era ties with the United States.

Some Hmong fought under CIA advisers during a so-called “secret war” against communists in Laos.

Original reporting by Pimuk Rakkanam for RFA’s Lao service. Lao service director: Viengsay Luangkhot. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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Nov 03, 2016 09:31 AM

Why are the Thai and Laos people denying Hmong? Why can't they become citizens of their countries and live amongst each other? What's the motive? Our population is very small compared to them.
Do they not have any remorse? We have families, kids, and elders.

The UN has to go and spend some time in the camps and observe the life of my Hmong people.

The reason why they say they refuse to be resettled is because they already have been threatened by the Thai and Laos people. Please help them.

Jan 22, 2010 06:20 AM

To day laos soldiers have send to the hmong jungle. Laos said that second step is to remove or clean the Hmong Jundle. About 2750 hmong still in the Jungle of Laos approximately, 15 kilomater from Plan of Jar. We still have fighting to days. vang Chue Chi Vue the Jungle leaders have relocated to Houa Phan to look for the wide of jungle to surviving.

Jan 14, 2010 11:39 AM

UNHCR and the whole world!!!! please look at the face of this poor lady. It seems to me that she was forced to repatriate to Laos and her face expression shows us that she is bitterly frustrated, with fear and sorrow. How can Pathet Lao dare to say that they are happily and willingly changing their minds to resettle in Laos. I want to ask the Vietnamese Puppet(Pathet Lao); How would you feel if you were in the Hmong positions at this time? PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE TO THE OTHER HUMAN BEINGS IF YOU CONSIDERED YOURSELF AS A HUMAN BEING AS WELL OR ELSE.

Jan 15, 2010 04:40 AM

Current Thai government completely crazy. US should do something for this unless more and more bad leaders do not stop such the stupit action like this

Jan 19, 2010 02:49 PM

I think it is best to leave this matter to UNHCR. However, if the US are more invloves with this issue then everything would be A.O.K but there main concerns are in Iraq and AFG. Sorry to say that but it is a reality. Hope that the Lao Govt will do as they say and not the other way around. Past is past and now is the new beginning for everyone to enjoy life in Laos. I think it will be A.O.K. Just like Jesus says "It can be forgiven". May God protect them as they return to Laos.

Jan 14, 2010 06:00 PM

Thai and Lao goverment they are not mercy goverment, they are evil goverment,I'm Hmong student I will not forget their action.

Jan 15, 2010 10:59 AM

If the U.N. doesn't quickly followup on the Hmong people that are being send back to Laos, it would be hard to locate them. According to radio, Free Asian has stated that the Lao government has dispersed many of these Hmong to different locations and they do not keep track and do not have accurate record keeping of how many Hmong people are being sent to different locations. It will be hard for the U.N. to find out if there is any genocide going on.

Jan 15, 2010 07:59 AM

UN and US please open your eyes wider if these people volumtary to go back to Laos like communist lao government said why do they cry? Thai government received $ from the communist and they plan to barry this people in laos instead in Thailand or in third countries. UN and US please do not trust these communist guys they said somethings but do another things. If you really want to rescuse your longtime old friend(Hmong) use your muscle now rather them your words.

Jan 14, 2010 01:49 PM

Everything, Thai Army-installed government must take responsibility in front of International Laws. Very unfortunately, Bangkok regime which supported and crowned by the gun, knows nothing about Humanitarian action or law in resolving the crisis. Every people given the status as refugees by UNHCR, recently, Thai used to do forcibly remove some Khmer Krom indigenous on their Mekong's land which illegally occupied the Vietnam communist to Cambodia for possible execution in Vietnam by Hunsen intoxicated party. Thai as a signatory must protect them since they've signed the treaty but here they acted against their duty. UN have to lodge a complaint and the world must condemn the Thai current regime to collapse.

Jan 16, 2010 12:50 AM

Ignorant manner, Thai government ever had even they knew that the forcible return of these ethnic people would confront the possible persecution or jail from the Vietnamese created government of Laos but the Abhisit regime still resisted doing it based on their uneducated knowledge of communists. USA and UN called them to gingerly consider but the Bangkok never paid the heed. Very unluckily, you know in Cambodia almost ministers are Vietnamese descendants such as SOK AN, HO NAM HONG, brainless VA KIM HONG, CHOMM PRASITH, SOK KONG, GENERALS POL SAROUEN, MOL ROUEP, KUN KIM, etc..., OTHER MINISTERS; KIET CCHUN, HIS WIFE IS VIETNAMESE ORIGINAL AND LOTS OF VIETNAMESE UNDERCOVER IN ALL HUN SEN government's MINISTRIES even his wife. That's the reason, the world called Hunsen Puppet regime of Hanoi. Please think over. Whole Cambodia now Vietnamese dominated due to Hunsen's political dependence on Youn.

Jan 14, 2010 01:56 PM

My heart is broken to see the picture of this poor Hmong lady posted on this web-page.Her face expresses lots of frustration, pains and sufferring; Therefore, I would like to urge our Lao PDR government who proclaimed themselves as a "Clever Political Party" to open up their eyes , minds and souls to see what is actually happening in Haiti, the world communities are rushing to rescue the Haitian earthquake victims. But in contrary, our Lao PDR government is torturing its own peoples. What a shame!

Jan 20, 2010 12:54 AM

The 4 U.S.A Congress man from the who had recent visit the hmong Ban Pha lak,said that no way the lao communist regime never mistreatment the hmong,but you see only the good place,never ever see the bad place,lao pdr all lyer,all they saib,i dont see,i dont know,we live in lao,we know better than those congress man,all the leader in lao has a wife of vietnamese.

Jan 18, 2010 03:04 AM

Hmong Resettlement Still Possible:

Thailand never allowed any country interested to take the refugees to get contact with them. Now, they are back in Laos, and talking about taking them abroad? Mr. Abhisit, you think people don't know that you lied? Shame on you!

Jan 22, 2010 06:29 AM

As i seen the Hmong Lady cries in the Thai Soldiers Truck to Laos. I thinks Thailand today is no humen right. 30 yaers a go Thailand is the Good country and the Kingdom of thailand is the love king I think now thai soldiers is used too murch forced to against Hmong people.
Hmong thousands have cries and call for the god, Laos is the Communist country that have only one rule. Todays many countries have filled to complaint Thailand The prime minster action.

Jan 24, 2010 09:54 PM

Vejjajiva’s stupid enough to believe Laos Communist will let these hmong people's to go to third country went Thai send them back to the LPDR hand.

Jan 22, 2010 06:14 AM

To all hmong lao and the world. The hmong people who just recently be forced to return from Hio nam khao and nong khai by thai land and Laos governmrnt. The 158 people who lao authority believed that are came from the jungle of Laos for ressistant for more them 30 year. The families have been separate. and some have been missing. Xia soua her lao Authority is believed the leaders and the Former Soldier who operated with CIA will be send to education camp. UN has no chioce to visit them Laotian today are working very hart to separate the family the 158 members. some go to the 20 klm and some go to Phalak some stay in Paksane.