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The U.S. Congressional letter to Secretary Rice on the Hmong refugee crisis in Thailand and Laos was spearheaded in the House by Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Congressman Thomas Petri (R-WI), Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), Congressman Robert Matsui (D-CA), Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Congressman Steve Kagen (D-WI) and others.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C. - Twenty (20) Members of Congress have written to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to act to help stop the forced repatriation of Hmong political refugee from Thailand back to the authoritarian regime in Laos where they face torture, persecution and imprisonment in reeducation camps.
The U.S. Congressional letter to Secretary Rice on the Hmong refugee crisis was spearheaded in the House by Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Congressman Thomas Petri (R-WI), Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), Congressman Robert Matsui (D-CA), Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Congressman Steve Kagen (D-WI) and others.
The U.S. Congressional letter to Secretary of State Rice spearheaded by Rep. Dennis Cardoza states: “We wish to convey our deep concern about the urgent humanitarian crisis at Huay Nam Khao refugee camp in Petchabun, Thailand. We continue to believe it is imperative for the U.S. to quickly press the Thai government to halt the forced repatriation of Hmong refugees to Laos and to urge that they allow UNHCR full access to ensure all protection claims and repatriations are resolved in accordance with international standards for the protection of refugees.
The Congressional letter to Condoleezza Rice further states: “ …we are worried that the Thai government will continue to forcibly return Hmong refugees back to Laos, where they face a real and severe threat of being persecuted by the government.”
“We welcome this important U.S. Congressional letter, spearheaded by Representative Dennis Cardoza, to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the human rights crisis and forced repatriation facing the Lao-Hmong refugees in Thailand and Laos,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C. “Hundreds of these Hmong refugees face persecution, torture and death in Laos; those returned in recent weeks have been summarily executed, jailed, have disappeared or have been sent to reeducation camps as political prisoners.”
“The Congressional letter is especially timely and important given the horrific forced repatriation of over 1300 Hmong political refugees in recent weeks by Thai Third Army soldiers back to the military regime in Laos that they fled and that continues to brutally starve, kill and persecute them,” Smith said. “This Congressional letter is an important follow-up effort by key Members of Congress, led by Representative Dennis Cardoza, who, along with Rep. Patrick Kennedy and others, have recently introduced historic new legislation, H. Res. 1273, to seek to stop the repatriation of Laotian and Hmong refugees from Thailand back to the Stalinist regime in Laos that the Hmong people have fled.”
In recent months, Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. (HLHRC), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have issued statements in opposition to Thailand’s forced repatriation of Hmong refugees and asylum seekers back to Laos as well as concern about fears of persecution or human rights violations against the Hmong in Laos. http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/publications/reports/2007/Hmong_Briefing.pdf
“This Congressional letter to Secretary Rice is right on point; Forced repatriation of Hmong refugees from Thailand back to Laos must be stopped immediately., stated Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt. “There is no excuse for Secretary Rice and the Bush administration to allow this humanitarian tragedy to continue.”
Dr. Hamilton-Merritt continued: “Hmong not only fought as U.S. allies in the Lao theatre of the Vietnam War, they also fought alongside Thai soldiers in Laos with the intent to keep the Vietnam War from spilling over into Thailand. Both the U.S. and Thailand have a moral responsibility to see that the Hmong refugees in Thailand are not abused, not forcibly repatriated to the Lao regime that is intent upon punishing and persecuting them for their alliances with the U,.S. and the Kingdom of Thailand. “
Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt is a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee for her human rights work on behalf of the Hmong. She is author of the award winning book “Tragic Mountains, The Hmong, The Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos” http://www.tragicmountains.org
Vaughn Vang, of the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council in Green Bay, Wisconsin, stated:
“We applaud the letter by Congressman Cardoza and the twenty Members of Congress sent today that appeals for increased assistance from the United States and Thailand to immediately stop the forced repatriation of Hmong refugees from Thailand to Laos. Many of the Hmong refugees in the camp in Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai Detention center in Thailand have relative in the United States. Their relatives in America, and the Hmong-American community in Wisconsin and across the United States, is deeply horrified at the recent forced repatriation of over one thousand Hmong refugees from Thailand back to Laos. Hundreds of the Hmong refugees have disappeared or have been tortured and killed in Laos; others have been sent to reeducation camps that the Lao military and secret police administer and where they live in inhumane and brutal conditions, often suffering and dying a slow death.”
H.Res. 1273, regarding the human rights crisis facing the Laotian and Hmong people in Thailand and Laos, was introduced and cosponsored in the U.S. Congress recently by U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), U.S. Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and some 15 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The new legislation cites the Lao government for its ongoing human rights violations, campaign of mass starvation and military attacks on the Hmong people, and its failures to implement reforms and an open society as called for in earlier legislation, H. Res. 402, on Laos that passed the U.S. Congress in 2004.
The Lao government has increased its military and security force attacks on unarmed Laotian and Hmong civilians, villagers and non-combatants in recent months resulting in thousands of deaths. Many of these Hmong and Laotian people seek to live outside the regime's authoritarian rule.
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