Hmong refugees held by Thailand must be freed
Amnistía Internacional publicou hoxe unha nota de prensa centrada nun grupo de refuxiados da etnia hmong que fuxiron de Laos e levan dous anos en Tailandia, detidos en condicións precarias a pesar de seren recoñecidos como refuxiados polas autoridades competentes das Nacións Unidas. A nota de prensa leva por título “Refugees held by Thailand must be freed”. Copio un extracto do seu contido:
Ninety-two children are among a group of 158 Lao Hmong refugees who have been held at a detention centre in Thailand for two years.
Living in harsh conditions, the refugees are constantly in fear of being forcibly returned to Laos, where they are at risk of serious human rights violations. For 21 hours a day, they are locked inside the building where they live in overcrowded, windowless cells. Some have gone on hunger strike or threatened to commit suicide in protest against their detention.
Many of the refugees are in poor health. The children, including 11 infants who were born into detention, are particularly badly affected by the difficult living conditions. Many of them are in bad health. Medical workers have only recently been allowed access to the detention centre.
The detainees had fled persecution in Laos. They were arrested in November 2006 in Bangkok and in Phetchabun, northern Thailand, despite having been recognized as refugees by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). They are being held at the Immigration Detention Center (IDC) in Nong Khai, northern Thailand.
The Thai authorities tried to forcibly return the refugees to Laos in January 2007. They forced women and children onto buses and drove them to the Lao border as the men barricaded themselves into their cells.
Plans to forcibly return the refugees were abandoned following an international outcry from other governments, UNHCR and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Amnesty International.
A high ranking representative of the Thai army visited the centre on 10 April 2008 and told the group that they would be sent to Laos. Threats such as this have added to the group’s desperation and fear.
“The refugees told Amnesty International that officials have threatened to forcibly return of all of them to Laos –as collective punishment– if anyone would try to escape from the detention centre or if any of the women would get pregnant. Such threats add to the fear in which the refugees live, said Brittis Edman, Southeast Asia researcher.
The governments of Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the USA have pledged to consider allowing the group to resettle in their countries. […]
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