I wrote here last month about 160 ethnic Hmong people – originally from Laos – being kept in detention in Thailand despite having been recognised as refugees by the UN and a number of countries having offered to resettle them.

Today comes news that the Thai government has forcibly deported over 4000 Hmong people back to Laos.  This rather brutally shows – yet again – that countries to the north of Australia are not safe places for refugees to try to survive in.  With literally hundreds of thousands of refugees and other displaced people living precariously in various parts of south-east Asia, and more than one country engaging in serious human rights abuses, it is amazing that we can consider a couple of thousand refugees arriving in boats over the course of a year as some sort of  ‘crisis’. Or that we think just trying to blockade means of transportation is likely to prevent a flow of asylum seekers in the long term.

Meanwhile, the extraordinary stand off involving the boatload of Tamils off the port of Marak in Indonesia continues after more than two months. One person from the boat has now died, and the whole incident has clearly used up a lot of diplomatic capital with Indonesia for no benefit to anyone.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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