Hmong delegation to arrange for reburial of remains

Members of St. Paul's Hmong community say they've secured the remains of 211 people who were buried near a Buddhist temple in Thailand where Hmong refugees once lived.

Hundreds of bodies were dug up in 2005, sparking outrage in the Hmong community. Some of the bodies were cremated.

Michael Yang is with the Hmong Grave Desecration National Delegation, one of two delegations from St. Paul that traveled to Thailand last month to deal with the issue.

Yang says now that his delegation has secured the remains from the Chinese foundations that exhumed the bodies, the Hmong community must decide what to do with them.

"We have offers from the two Chinese foundations to bury in their sites. One is where the 211 bodies are being stored right now. The second option is where the cremated bodies have been buried."

Yang says the delegation is also considering whether to buy land to rebury the remains.

"This is a big deal, not only in Minnesota but across the country," said Yang. "It's about who we are as people."

Sen. Mee Moua, DFL-St. Paul, is a member of a second delegation that traveled to Thailand to discuss the issue. She said that in the faith of her people disturbing the dead can leave souls to wander and affect the health and livelihoods of those still alive.

Yang said his group was arranging an all-clan national meeting in Wisconsin in two weeks to figure out where the bodies should be reburied and how to pay for the project.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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