Thailand has begun forcibly deporting thousands of ethnic Hmong back to neighbouring Laos, despite international concerns for their safety.
Thai army trucks carrying some 5000 troops moved in in the early hours of Monday morning.
The commander in charge of the expulsion Colonel Thana Charuwat said: ‘‘Everyone can see that in this operation the combined force of military and police is unarmed — they only have batons and shields, which is in line with international standards.’‘
The Hmong sided with Laos’ pro-American government during the Vietnam war and fled when the country turned communist in 1975.
Around 4000 refugees live in the camp and there are fears they could resist. The Hmong claim they face persecution in their homeland even though Thailand insists Laos has agreed to their return.
The US and human rights groups have expressed concern over the deportation, saying some could qualify for refugee status and should not be sent back.