THAI authorities closed down a press conference by US non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday.
The group was due to promote its report alleging that neighbouring Vietnam was persecuting its Degar ethnic minority.
But police ordered hosts the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand to cancel the event, saying it could damage relations between the two countries.
HRW used the incident to attack the Thai government, saying: “Thailand is now going to be known as the defender of human-rights violators.”
The Degar, dubbed Montagnards (mountain people) by French colonialists, originate from Vietnam’s central highlands region, where their current population of one million is roughly equal to that in 1962.
During the Vietnam war, the US and its South Vietnamese puppet government recruited some 40,000 Degar to fight against the People’s Army of Vietnam.
Following the north’s victory in 1975, thousands of Degar fled to neighbouring countries in fear of reprisals. The US military resettled less than 2,000 in the states.
HRW, which has its offices in New York’s Empire State Building, is funded by billionaire George Soros.
It made a name for itself by criticising the US and Israeli governments but also regularly attacks socialist and anti-imperialist nations.
In 2008 two HRW staff were expelled from Venezuela after they accused the socialist government of Hugo Chavez of undermining democracy and human rights.