Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 11:23 UK

In pictures: Hmong evictions in Thailand

Young Hmong make their way through Ban Huay Nam Khao village after being forced to abandon their bamboo houses in Phetchabun province

Thousands of ethnic Hmong in northern Thailand have been evicted from their homes, as part of a government plan to encourage them to return to their native Laos.

One of the refugees

Most of the estimated 6,000 refugees are thought to have arrived in Thailand within the last year.

Hmong hill tribes take shelter along the road to Ban Huay Nam Khao village in Phetchabun province, north-eastern Thailand

Having been forced from their homes in the village of Huay Nam Khao, many are currently waiting near the border in Phetchabun province.

A tractor carrying Thai farmers drives past Hmong taking shelter along the road to Ban Huay Nam Khao village

Local Thais can only watch. Since a new rule came into effect on Monday, Thai landowners face prison terms and hefty fines if they do not expel the Hmong from their land.

Hmong hill tribes take shelter along the road to Ban Huay Nam Khao village in Phetchabun province, north-eastern Thailand

The Hmong do not want to return to Laos, because they fear persecution by the communist government because of their Vietnam War-era ties to the CIA in the United States.

A Hmong refugee cries after being forced to abandon her house at Ban Huay Nam Khao village

According to Thai media reports, some have threatened to commit suicide if they are forcibly returned.

A Hmong refugee holds a banner begging for help from the UN

The Hmong refugees have appealed to the United Nations to treat them as political asylum seekers, and facilitate their repatriation elsewhere.

Hmong people listen to the news outside their makeshift shelters at Ban Huay Nam Khao village in Phetchabun province

But Thailand sees them as illegal immigrants rather than asylum seekers. It also suspects that some Hmong are involved in rebel attacks in Laos, harming relations between the two neighbours.



SEE ALSO
In pictures: Hmong resettlement
14 Sep 04 |  In Pictures
Forgotten Hmong find new home
14 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Hmong ordered from Thai camp
25 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Hmong refugees reach US
22 Jun 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Laos' forgotten Hmong
02 Jul 03 |  Asia-Pacific


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