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BY: Wassana Nanuam, May 11, 2002

More than 30,000 Hmong tribespeople living at Wat Tham Krabok in Saraburi will be relocated to Nakhon Phanom by the end of next year.

A Supreme Command source said the government had already endorsed plans to relocate some 32,000 Hmong at Wat Tham Krabok to Ban Na Pho camp in Nakhon Phanom province.

Screening showed most of them were from Laos, and that about 1,500 were members of anti-Vientiane government movements with their children born in Thailand, the source said.

The Hmong were already told about their relocation, and the abbot of Wat Tham Krabok, Phra Khru Charoen Parnchan, has consented to the plan.

The military had turned down the Hmong's request to be moved to border areas in the North, such as in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces, for fear they would get involved in drugs. Some of the Hmong people at Wat Tham Krabok were known to be involved in the drugs trade, and their village in the monastery's compound was believed to have been used as a transit point for illicit drugs from the North, according to the source.

The military would seek a budget of 50 million baht for the repair and expansion of Ban Na Pho camp, the source said.