Many will ask the question why these people are being sent back to a land which they fled in fear of the country's communist regime since it came to power in the 1970s. The US Goverment has been particular vocal on the subject of Hmong repatriation with the State Department quoted in the NY Times:
“We deeply regret this serious violation of the international humanitarian principles that Thailand has long been known for championing. The United States strongly urges Thai authorities to suspend this operation.”Most shocking is Prime Minister Abhisit's declaration that the Hmong have left Thailand "voluntarily":
The Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, said yesterday the repatriations were voluntary and were carried out without incident or violence.[Via New Mandala]
Cell phone lines out of the camp where the refugees were held were jammed while journalists, human rights workers and UN officials were forbidden from being 12km from the camp.
Sadly this is the latest in a long line of incidents which reflect the Thai government's heavy handed policy of dealing with refugee and political asylum seekers in the region. Just last year Thailand was heavily criticised for sending 1,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar out to see on boats, which subsequently caused the death of many of the group.