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Congress Appeals to Obama Administration, Thailand: Stop Hmong Returns to Laos

WASHINGTON, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A U.S. Congressional letter to Secretary of State Clinton regarding the Lao-Hmong refugee crisis in Thailand and Laos was sent today by 31 Members of Congress, as more cosigned the letter prior to transmittal.

"First, we ask you to directly urge the Prime Minister of Thailand and senior Thai military officials to halt the forced repatriation of the Hmong at Huay Nam Khao ... there are currently about 5,000 Hmong refugees... who claim to have fled violence and persecution in Laos," the letter states.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Doctors Without Borders, withdrew from the Lao Hmong camp in Thailand last month in protest over the forced return of refugees to Laos.

"It should be noted that the recent protest by Nobel Peace Prize winner.. MSF is historical," said Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, author of "Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, The Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos" and Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her human rights work for those abused in Laos.

Hamilton-Merritt continued: "MSF deserves another Nobel for its courageous protest... Many of the refugees in Thailand were our staunchest allies. Secretary Clinton should acknowledge this heroic act by MSF by reading the carefully documented reports of medically certified abuses, Thai mistreatment, and forced repatriation. Read the reports about the fear of those who are about to be forcibly returned to their abusers in Laos. Know their stories: Hear their cries."

"Thousands of Lao Hmong political refugees, including many veterans who served with U.S. clandestine and military forces during the Vietnam War, are now facing forced repatriation by the Thai military back to the brutal Stalinist regime in Laos that they fled," stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C.

"The letter to Secretary of State Clinton regarding the Laos Hmong refugee crisis was spearheaded by U.S. Congressmen Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) and is backed by Lao Hmong-Americans in opposition to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit's forced repatriation of Laotians and Hmong political refugees," Smith said.

"As a former political refugee, I am strongly urging Mrs. Clinton to work with the Royal Thai Government to stop the forced repatriation of the Hmong refugees back to Laos," concluded Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute.

SOURCE Center for Public Policy Analysis
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