OTTAWA — Canada is accusing the Thai government of flouting international law by sending UN-designated refugees back to their home country of Laos.
Last week, Thailand deported about 4,500 ethnic Hmong, despite pleas from human-rights organizations and oft-stated concerns from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The group included 158 people officially designated as refugees, and thousands of others that the UN has not been able to assess.
In a massive military operation that rounded up people from camps, separated out community leaders, and cut off most outside contact, the Hmong were sent back to Laos – putting an end to the Hmong’s three-decade search for asylum following their alliance with the United States during the Vietnam War.
“This is totally unacceptable,” said Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
The UNHCR has never been allowed access to most of the 4,500 to determine whether they can be considered refugees, or whether they are illegal economic migrants, as the Thai government argues.
The Canadian Press