The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Thailand Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont. He gets the award for the following.
BANGKOK, Thailand - Thailand will return some 8,000 ethnic Hmong refugees to Laos despite their claims that they face persecution in their homeland, the Thai prime minister said Monday.Does the Prime Minister have his head in the sand. Doesn't he remember The Killing Fields or The Vietnamese re-education camps? Sending these men and women back to Laos is as good as a death sentence for many of them.
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont asserted that most of the refugees did not have legitimate asylum claims, but said an unspecified third country would be asked to monitor their repatriation to assure they were not abused.
Members of Laos' Hmong minority served in a CIA-backed guerrilla army that fought against Lao communists in the 1960s and 1970s. The refugees claim that as a result they face political persecution and possible harm in communist Laos.
Thirteen members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a recent letter to Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej asking him to stop the forcible repatriation of the Hmong.
Human rights groups and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees also have expressed concern for the Hmong, in large part because the government of Laos does not allow free monitoring of their condition.
Surayud said the matter had been discussed with Laos and "we will make sure representatives from a third country are present to prevent human rights abuse as we send them back."
Surayud said the country overseeing the repatriations would likely be a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to which both Thailand and Laos belong. He did not say when the repatriation might occur.
The US isn't without fault in this drama. We prefer to think nothing will happen to these people either. Do these government officials have a conscience? For sending people to certain death, Thailand Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
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