WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government expects the repatriation of Vietnamese boat people from Hong Kong to be carried out without the use of force, an administration official said yesterday.
"The British are well aware of our position on mandatory and forced repatriation under current conditions in Vietnam," said Princeton Lyman, the State Department's director of refugee programs. "We will judge these procedures by what actually occurs." Under an agreement reached Oct. 29 between the British and Vietnamese governments, repatriations -- which critics say will inevitably involve the use of force -- are expected to begin next month. Up to 63,000 boat people are being held in Hong Kong camps.
In testimony yesterday before a House Asian and Pacific affairs subcommittee, groups concerned about the fate of the refugees urged the United States to pressure British and Hong Kong officials to suspend repatriation until voluntary methods can be agreed upon.