31 December 2010 |

Laos: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2010

 

The Hmong people in Laos have faced repression for their role in the civil war which ran from the 1950s to the 1970s. During the Vietnam War, an estimated 60,000 Hmong fighters played a part in covert American operations to prevent the establishment of a communist regime. When Laos was taken over by communist troops in 1975, tens of thousands of Hmong fled to neighbouring Thailand. Until 2006, army operations against small groups of Hmong people continued to force people to flee inside Laos or across the border to Thailand.

From 2006, some 7,700 Hmong people were forcibly repatriated from Thailand, 4,400 of them at the end of 2009. Most of them were taken to existing villages or resettlement sites where, according to the government, their basic needs were met and they became selfreliant. However, international observers warned of a risk of persecution, and those allowed to visit the resettlement sites in 2010 were given no opportunity to assess the extent to which residents had been able to achieve durable solutions. A smaller but undetermined number of Hmong people were still displaced in 2010, in small groups in the jungle, after seeking shelter from army operations carried out in previous years. Meanwhile, some members of religious minorities, in particular Christians, were also reportedly displaced as a result of limitations on the freedom of religion imposed by local authorities. The government has not acknowledged the displacement and denies perpetrating any human rights violations or discriminating against the Hmong in general. Advocates including the RSG on IDPs, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have highlighted the plight of displaced groups in Laos. In May 2010, the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Laos led to a number of recommendations on the protection of Hmong returnees and religious minorities.