Hmong Resettlement Still Possible

The Thai prime minister says Hmong repatriated to Laos could still be resettled to third countries.
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A refugee sits inside a truck during the operation to deport Hmong from a camp in Thailand's Petchabun province, Dec. 28, 2009.
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.

Comments (16)


from St. Paul, MN

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.

Nov 03, 2016 05:31 PM

Anonymous Reader

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 25, 2010 07:54 AM

Anonymous Reader

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 22, 2010 04:29 PM

Anonymous Reader

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 22, 2010 04:20 PM

Anonymous Reader

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.

Jan 22, 2010 04:14 PM

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