Thursday, February 25, 2010

Critics of Faleomavaega Visit to Hmong Camp Persist

Faleomavaega’s travel blitz covering Asia, North Africa, Europe and the Western Pacific over the past six weeks has been so truly breathtaking in his scope it is difficult to remember that one of his first stops was Laos, where he pronounced returning Hmong refugees free from persecution in their repatriation camp outside the capital. Early on he was denounced for turning a blind eye to the real situation and even though he is long gone and on to other issues, the criticism persists.

However, that testimony has not pacified many observers concerned about the status of the recently repatriated Hmong. Writing for Worldnet Daily, Anthony C. LoBaido says Faleomavaega’s “testimony has not pacified many observers concerned about the status of the recently repatriated Hmong.”

LoBaido notes that Amnesty International contends Thailand's deportation of the Hmong "violated [Thailand's] obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which provides that state parties must not send people to countries where they risk torture. The government also claimed, after holding them [the Hmong] for three years in arbitrary detention in constant fear of forcible return, that the Hmong agreed to return to Laos voluntarily. In fact, the Thai authorities told them that they would be resettled to third countries only if they first agreed to go back to Laos."

The U.S. ambassador to Thailand wrote in the Bangkok Post that "All the refugees we interviewed in Nong Khai told us on December 28th, that they did not wish to return to Laos, clearly indicating that the return was involuntary. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program was available to consider referrals of individuals from this community. This was clearly articulated repeatedly by U.S. officials. Both the UNHCR and the Royal Thai Government had, indeed, determined that many among this population were in need of protection. And the United States, along with many other countries, stood ready to provide third-country resettlement as an option, but this course was not allowed."

Like the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam, two other governments Faleomavaega likes to champion, Laos is a Communist dictatorship. One has to wonder what it is about communist dictatorships that Faleomavaega finds so appealing, especially when so many other people see things that seem to escape his attention.

The complete Worldnet story can be found at

We are not holding our breath that Samoa News to cover this continuing story or anything else about his travel. At this point, we would settle for the paper to simplyh inform its readers that over the past six weeks, the delegate has visited Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Morocco, Spain, Austria and Palau in three separate junkets, with very little time in Washington, which, supposedly, is his duty station.

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