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Bangkok respects rights and laws in repatriation : PM

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva reiterated Wednesday that the repatriations of Hmongs to Laos have been carried out in accordance with human rights principles and laws.

News reports earlier said that rights groups and diplomats have expressed deep concern over Thailand's repatriation of 4,000 Hmongs taking shelters in Phetchabun province to Laos. They said they feared Hmongs would face persecution.

The prime minister said the National Security Council had discussed the issue on Tuesday and affirmed that Thailand would do everything in accordance with the law and bear in mind the principles of human rights.

Thailand has repatriated 17 groups of Hmongs; a total of 3,059 persons to Laos to date, Abhisit said, adding there was no confirmed case of human rights violations.

He insisted there was no critical conflict or any fighting in Laos that could affect the returnees and it is believed that the Lao government had allowed other countries to inspect the conditions of the returnees.

The premier said Thailand has clear principles on the matter and would have no problem to clarifiy the issue to the international community.

Foreign diplomats in Bangkok reportedly met Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to voice their concern about the repatriation.

The Hmongs had helped the United States fighting against the communist Pathet Lao during the Indochina War. After the communist victory, many Hmong fled to settle in the US and other western countries, while many remain in Thailand and are reluctant to return to their homeland for fear that the Lao government might persecute them.

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