Thailand’s “voluntary” deportation of 4,700 Hmong at the end of last year drew a lot of flak internationally and seriously affected Thailand’s (and possibly Abhisit’s) image. Human rights groups were outraged. Almost immediately there were reports of torture and imprisonment.
It was all bollocks.
As Nation’s Supalak reports from Vientiane all refugees have been treated well and decided to stay in Laos instead of hoping that some Western country takes them in. By now only less than two hundred remain in clearing center, the rest have been given some money, land, a year supply of rice.
Their leader, Blia Shoua Her, has changed his mind and decided to join his family. He was the one who was reportedly jailed and about to be tortured.
Lao government even let one US Congressman to come and see things for himself: “There is no indication of discrimination or harassment or mistreatment of the people in Pha Lak village.”
While it’s a good news overall there are potential implications for the future.
First, Thai military and Thai government appear to be more trustworthy then a brigade of human rightists.
Second, solutions to refugee problems lie with the governments, not with activists.
Third, international framework for dealing with refugees seems to be failing miserably, it was put there for a good reason and without it there’s a potential for abuse.
Human rights groups, in Asean governments eyes (forget myself), have lost credibility. They appear to be part of the problem rather than a solution. Last year Thailand tried to establish channels of communication within Asean between governments and human right representatives. What does Lao government think of this? After being accused of political persecution and even torture? Will Vietnam, the next Asean chair, even bother?
What are these people doing? They are severely undermining their own cause, nothing else.
Another aspect – Thailand’s attitude towards western governments. I don’t think they are going to pay any attention to “righteous condemnation” anymore. First they disagreed on Rohingya, rightly or wrongly, and now Hmong, that’s two strikes. No one will bother with the the next “wolf” cry. It’s just noise, however annoying.
Credibility goes a long way in Asia, and the West is losing it.