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Activists fear Hmong leader deportation

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A US admonition to Laos over its shaky human rights record spurred efforts Tuesday to halt the possible deportation from Thailand of a former ethnic leader to the authoritarian Southeast Asian nation. 

In this photo taken in January 2003 released by Philip Blenkinsop, villagers break down en-masse after delivering their plea through visiting reporters to the international community for safety from attacks by the Lao army, as Hmong rebel leader Moua Toua Ther, right, oversees the encounter in Xaysomboune, northern Laos. Moua Toua Ter traveled through the jungles of Laos for almost three decades with a small band of followers who were in hiding from the Lao army, who were trying to track them down because the communist government distrusted them as allies of the United States during the Vietnam War. Moua Toua Ter later fled to safety to Thailand, but on Monday was in an immigration jail in Bangkok, and it is feared he will be deported to Laos, where rights activists say he will face persecution from the authorities. (AP Photo/Philip Blenkinsop)

Rights activists said former ethnic Hmong rebel leader Moua Toua Ter is being held at an immigration detention centre in Bangkok, while they and at least one Western embassy made representations on his behalf to the Thai government. They fear he faces severe persecution if returned to his homeland.  

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