Thailand has sent 800 members of the Hmong ethnic minority back to Laos, an official said yesterday, despite international concern that the hill tribe could face persecution back home.
Colonel Somchai Chaipanich, from the northern region where the Hmong are detained, said the group was deported on Sunday after thousands of Hmong tried to march out of a makeshift camp in Phetchabun Province.
“Those 800 Hmong volunteered to return to Laos themselves. They wanted to go home,” Somchai said, adding that the latest repatriations left about 6,000 Hmong in the camp near the border with Laos.
The Bangkok Post newspaper said thousands of Hmong marched on Friday to highlight their plight, but riot police blocked their path, put up to 600 Hmong in jail and forcibly sent some of the rally leaders back to Laos.
Somchai confirmed that about 4,000 Hmong marched out of the camp, but he refused to give any other details about the incident.
He said the next group from Huay Nam Khao camp, which once was home to about 8,000 Hmong, would likely be sent back to Laos next week.
The Thai government insists the Hmong are economic migrants using Thailand as a base to seek refugee status and travel to rich countries.
But Hmong activists, international human rights groups and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, have warned that some of the Hmong could be at risk of persecution in communist Laos.
US lawmakers this month introduced legislation asking Thailand to suspend repatriation of the Hmong and to provide UNHCR access to those seeking asylum.
The Hmong fought alongside US forces in the 1960s and 1970s when the Vietnam War spilled into Laos. After the war ended in 1975, many fled to the jungles fearing the communist authorities would hunt them down.
Last month a fire at the camp in Phetchabun destroyed hundreds of makeshift homes. At the time, Somchai said the fire could have been set by Hmong trying to avoid repatriation to Laos.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
‘CHAPITOS’: An ex-DEA agent said the sons of the former cartel head are engaged in a battle for control, with the health of the man temporarily in charge a factor The fight for control of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s legacy spilled into the open on Thursday after a gun battle between rival Mexican gangs left 16 dead, authorities said. The 16 men, heavily armed and wearing bulletproof vests, died in a six-hour running shootout near the rural town of Tepuche in northwestern Sinaloa province. “A van with seven bodies was located” after an initial clash, while nine bodies were discovered following a second exchange, Sinaloa Minister of Security Cristobal Castaneda told reporters. Castaneda said that Wednesday’s clash near Tepuche, 25km from the capital of Sinaloa, Culiacan, was “part of a struggle