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ETHNIC HMONG REFUGEES DEPORTED DESPITE INTERNATIONAL CONCERNS

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Bangkok - Thailand Monday began deporting 4,000 ethnic Hmong refugees to Laos despite international appeals to the government to reconsider the involuntary repatriation to an uncertain future.
  • The first batch of 442 Hmong were taken from Huay Nam Khao camp in Phetchabun province at 9.30 a. m. to buses that will carry them to Nong Khai province where they will cross the Mekong River on the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge into neighbouring Laos, said Thai Army Colonel Thana Jaruwat, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command.
  • The remaining 3,600 have thus far refused to leave the camp peacefully, he said.
  • "We will try to convince them to leave on their own will but if they refuse we will enforce the law," Thana said.
  • Thailand has never recognised the Hmong at Huay Nam Khao, 280 km north-east of Bangkok, as refugees but instead has classified them as illegal migrants, who, according to Thai law can be expelled without bringing charges against them, Thana said.
  • Officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other human rights workers and journalists were held several km away from the camp to prevent outsiders from observing the mass deportation operation.
Source: Top News
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