Military officers who oversee the camp summoned a number of Hmong leaders for questioning after they gave interviews to local and international media against a plan to repatriate them to Laos. The plan was decided by a meeting of Thai and Lao military officials last week.
Le Su, a 48 yearold Hmong leader, was questioned by military officers after he gave his reaction to the repatriation plan to The Nation and the USbased Radio Free Asia last week.
Lao deputy chief of staff Brig General Buaxiang Champapanh and Lt General Niphat Thonglek, chief of the Thai Supreme Command's Boundary Department held a meeting on the repatriation of the Hmong in Phitsanulok last week.
Le Su told the media upon learning of the meeting that his group had fled suppression at home and would not return. Only 10 per cent of the Hmong in Huay Nam Khao were willing to return, he said.
He said Buaxing was disappointed with his comments and asked Thai military officials to find out personal details about him. His mobile phone was confiscated to cut off communication with the outside world, another Hmong leader Daovong Thua said.
The Thai military was campaigning in Ban Huay Nam Khao camp to get the Hmong to make the decision to return home. The officials called the Hmong to see a video handed by Lao officials on the treatment by Vientiane of previous groups of Hmong deported from Thailand over the past months.
"We don't believe the message in the video and we don't believe we would have a chance to live in such a place prepared by the Lao government," Daovong Thua said.
Close to 8,000 Hmong from Laos have taken refuge in Huay Nam Khao in Phetchabun since late 2004. Most claimed ties to the US CIA which battled the communists before the fall of Vientiane in 1975. They say they fled suppression in their homeland.
But Laos and Thailand reject the claim and say they consider the group merely illegal migrants who entered Thailand with the hope of being resettled and eventually enjoying a better life abroad.
Authorities of the two countries have agreed to repatriate them to their place of origin.
Lao spokesman Yong Chanthalangsy said the Hmong would not face punishment. The government had prepared a new site in Kaxi district, about 150 Kilometres from the capital Vientiane, for them. This was because some of repatriated Hmong had nowhere to go as they had sold all of their property.
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