Outrage Over Hmong Repatriation Misplaced

Picture courtesy AFP

The Hmong Came to Thailand as refugees from Laos in 2004-2005 and they have remained in Huay Nam Khao refugee camp in Petchabun Province  guarded by the Thai military until this past Thursday when 452 of the Hmong refugees were among the first to be repatriated back to Laos.

Cries of outrage have echoed across the blogoshpere and through the world news outlets about Thailand’s great injustice about how Thailand refused U.N. access for interviews with the refugees, about how the Thai army wouldn’t reveal their screening process and of course how the Hmong have legitimate protection concerns and Thailand isn’t protecting them.

This isn’t going to be one of those articles.

The United States, Australia, Canada and Australia all condemned the forced repatriation as well as the U.N., who recognized the Hmong’s refugee status. The aforementioned countries also offered the 4,400 Hmong refugees resettlement in their respective countries. So here’s the question, why haven’t these countries resettled the Hmong? Why hasn’t the U.N. stepped in and asked that the Hmong be handed over to them for resettlement in another country?

This situation didn’t just begin on Thursday, this has been an ongoing concern for 4 years. These countries and the U.N. couldn’t figure it out in that length of time? Of course they couldn’t,  because they never had any intention of resettling the Hmong. While they cry about abysmal conditions in the refugee camp and they disagree with Thailand’s assessment that the Hmong are economic and not political refugees they didn’t take the time or the diplomatic initiative to do anything about it.

The U.N. and the United States are the last entities that should be crying foul with their abysmal records of refugee treatment. Has everyone forgotten the Cuban refugee crisis of the 80′s in the United States when Fidel Castro figured out how to relieve his over populated prison cells? The problem was Castro not only released his prisoners on America but normal everyday Cuban citizens saw this as their chance as well and boarded anything that would float for America.

The United States had their own Abysmal refugee camps in Miami where murders happened daily and basic necessities were scarce. The United States not only forcible repatriated thousands of Cubans, which went against their own dictate they also patrolled the waters off of Florida and fired warning shots across the bows of boats filled with refugees heading to America. To add insult to injury they forced these boats to return to Cuba where many of these refugees were imprisoned and killed. Not to mention that many of these boats that were returned had a staggering death rate due to starvation and dehydration due to lack of food and water. Where was the U.S. outrage then? Where was the U.N. then?

Picture Courtesy Reuters

When I hear of the U.S. State Departments outrage over the Forced Hmong repatriation I have visions of  Elián González being forcibly repatriated to Cuba by armed Force.  While the Elián González incident is a little different than the Hmong I think the picture clearly shows how The United States saw fit to repatriate a child. The family weren’t cooperating with the U.S. State Department and refused to hand Elián González over but they weren’t exactly armed insurgents that needed to be raided by a heavily armed tactical squad.

The real outrage shouldn’t be targeted at Thailand, it should be targeted at the real cause of all the Hmong’s problems…The United States of America!

Most people reading about this situation will have no clue that the United States are the sole cause of the Hmong peoples persecution which led to this point in the first place. During the Vietnam War the CIA recruited and paid the Hmong to fight alongside American troops in a secret war to halt communism in Laos and keep Vietnam from using Laos as a site for the Ho Chi Minh trail. The communist government of Laos didn’t take too kindly to this and the Hmong have had a rough ride since.

Many thousands of Hmong have made it to the U.S. and resettled but those left behind were forgotten by the U.S. government that now so strongly condemns Thailand for not cleaning up the mess that they made

Picture courtesy some smartass

The U.N. are just as responsible for the Hmong situation although they always like to claim that they are working on the problem. There hasn’t been a more ineffective or inefficient organization since the U.N. was created so there was no doubt that they would provide no real relief for the Hmong. The U.N. has proven time and again that they are inept at helping any citizens of the world and that is clearly evident by their inaction’s in Africa.

Thailand has housed, clothed and fed the Hmong refugees for 4 years and the Thai claims that they are economic refugees isn’t a blatant disregard for the Hmong’s political situation,  which can’t be denied,  it is a very real concern. Thailand has to deal with thousands of illegal Lao and Cambodian workers yearly. They are taking jobs from Thai citizens and it has become as big a problem as illegal Mexican immigrants in America.

It also has to be noted that Thailand is the country that will have to deal with the political and diplomatic ramifications of this situation and it’s inevitable fallout with it’s neighboring countries.

Diplomatically this has been a nightmare for Thailand especially considering the current strain on relations with Cambodia. Thailand has had an agreement with Laos for several years now to repatriate the Hmong and the Lao Government has guaranteed Thailand that the Hmong  will not be persecuted. Thailand has held off from repatriating the Hmong for 2 years because various nations and the U.N. have promised relief that never arrived. Should Thailand now forget that agreement and cause more diplomatic strife for itself?

Thailand shouldn’t become the worlds whipping boy when no one else has stepped up to do anything about the situation. Furthermore the eyes of the world should more importantly be focused on Laos and America. Laos,  to make sure that the Hmong are treated fairly and America because the United states government should be taking responsibility for the actions that led to the persecution of the Hmong in the first place.

The U.S. government created this situation with the Hmong and the U.S. government should be the one to solve this problem,  not leaving it for others to clean up as they always do. The U.S. State Departments press release of outrage should be seen as exactly what it is, just words. Once again the United States has successfully transferred responsibility onto another country and then attacked the diplomatic decisions of that country.

If you still need to feel outrage then you should consider directing it at those who created the problem and those that stated they would resettle the Hmong but didn’t. I know diplomatic lines between various countries can take time but 4 years was more than enough time to help the Hmong.  Those
countries and the U.N.  that are now expressing outrage should be ashamed, they talk a good game but when it comes down to it they did nothing.

Will the world now be watching Laos, the United Nations and the United States or will it be easier to keep their anger focused on Thailand?

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