Thailand expels 4,000 Hmong refugees

The New York Times reports that in “a quick, one-day operation, Thai soldiers with riot shields and clubs evicted more than 4,000 Hmong asylum seekers from a holding center Monday and forcibly repatriated them to Laos, where they say they face retribution from their government.”

Thailand acted despite protests from the United Nations and human rights groups. Even as the soldiers were trucking the Hmong over the Mekong River into Laos, the United States government was calling on the Thai government to stop.

The Washington Post reports that

the officer in charge of the operation said 2,100 of the camp residents had agreed to leave voluntarily and the army was trying to persuade the rest. But the Thai government has blocked media and international access to the camp and mobile telephone signals in it, making it difficult to independently confirm that information.

The migrants say they are at risk from persecution by the Laos government if they return there. Many were soldiers or family members of soldiers — the so-called “forgotten allies”– who decades ago fought in a secret army set up by the United States to combat the communist insurgents who eventually took over the country in 1975.

Read the WP story here.

Read the NYT story here.

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