Washington, DC – In response to the forced deportation of thousands of ethnic Hmong from Thailand to neighboring Laos, Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement;

“The Thai government’s decision to repatriate more than 4,500 Lao Hmong to Laos is deeply troubling. Among those sent back were some who still face a well-founded fear of persecution due to their affiliation with the U.S.-supported resistance to the Pathet Lao decades ago. The repatriation not only violates the most basic principles of refugee law but also marks a dangerous precedent affecting refugee protection worldwide.

“Now that this population has been forcibly sent back to Laos, the Lao government must ensure that they are treated humanely, guarantee access to the international community for independent monitoring, and let those who are eligible for resettlement be resettled promptly.”