A Hmong organization collected testimony in St. Paul Sunday on the desecration of Hmong grave sites in Thailand. The Minnesota chapter of the National Hmong Grave Desecration Committee is gathering the testimony in preparation for a national conference in North Carolina later this month.
The group has been working since 2005 to resolve a dispute with Thai officials over the exhumation of nearly 1,000 Hmong graves.
The bodies were dug up without the permission of relatives and many were then cremated without authorization. The graves were located in a traditional Hmong cemetery near the Buddhist temple in Thailand where many of the families had once lived as refugees.
Michael Yang is spokesman for the group. He says collecting testimony from victims' families remains critical to resolving the dispute.
"That has been our commitment is to continue to take input from victims families and members of the Hmong community throughout the entire process, what are their wishes, and we keep the door open for that input," Yang said.
Yang is calling for the 211 graves still remaining in the cemetery to be left alone.
The National Hmong Grave Desecration Committee has been working with members of the Minnesota and Wisconsin congressional delegations, the State Department and the United Nations to resolve the dispute.
"It is important to people all over, all across ethnic lines, because it's about the disturbance of the loved ones who passed away, simple as that, but most importantly to the victims' families," Yang said.