News of the forced repatriation of 4,000 ethnic Hmong from Thailand to their native Laos on Monday sent shockwaves throughout the Hmong community and prompted a stern, last-minute denouncement from Minnesota state Sen. Mee Moua, who spent three years of her childhood in a similar camp before moving to the U.S. with her parents.
"International law could not be clearer that the involuntary return of persons entitled to protection is inconsistent with precedents and international agreements established in the wake of World War II," she said in a statement. "This long-established principle states that refugees and asylum-seekers cannot be forcibly returned to countries where they could face persecution and death."
DFLer Moua, of St. Paul, was first elected to the state Senate in 2002, and is the highest-ranking elected official of Hmong background in the United States. She told Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine that her father was a medic in the Vietnam War, and fled with her family to a refugee camp in Thailand when she was five years old. In 1978 her family, along with other Hmong refugees, moved to the United States. In St. Paul, she's part of one of the largest concentrations of Hmong Americans in the country.More »