Dec 30, 2020

Timeline: Hmong

The Hmong community, and in particular the ChaoFa Hmong, have a long history of being discriminated against and having their human rights violated by the LPRP. They face uncompensated land confiscation, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, suppression of freedom of expression and severe restrictions on their economic, social and cultural rights.

The Hmong community in the Xaysomboun region face additional and serious harms which call for immediate action. Fostered by economic and development purposes and, in particular, for the exploitation of the richness on natural resources of the Hmong land on the Xaysomboun province and the Phou bia area, the government’s military campaign led by the Lao People’s Army (LPA) has intensified significantly during the last decades. Due to large-scale extractive industries, many Hmong communities have been forcibly relocated from their lands or face extensive environmental problems. The construction of hydroelectric dams along the Nam Ngum River, gold and silver mining, as well as illegal wood logging, have seriously affected the environment in the area. 

Both Vietnam and Thailand have collaboration agreements with the Lao government which include provisions on the forced repatriation of Hmong refugees, as well as on joint military campaigns within Laos to target Hmong communities seeking refuge in jungle areas.

14 March 2021: Authorities in Xaisomboun (Saysombun in Lao) province issued a decree restricting access to the Phou Bia jungle to all civilians and stating that the access to the area is since then, permitted only to military personnel, with all roads being closed. The publication of the decree coincides with the announcement of the construction of tourist facilities on the Phou Bia Mountain. 

8 March 2021: A 63 years old ChaoFa Hmong man was killed by the Lao Army when looking for food.

3 March 2021:  the report “Atrocity Crimes Risk Assessment series of Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s” has been published and upgrades the country to a risk of low-medium risk of atrocity crimes in Lao PDR, with the situation in the country “characterized by economic instability, weak regulatory and governance structures, human rights violations and the systematic infringement of civil and political rights”. The report explicitly underlines that, “the treatment of the ethnic Hmong tribe by the government of Lao PDR (...) appears to satisfy numerous indicators of Special Risk Factor 9. Continuing discrimination against the Hmong ethnic tribe is of particular concern.”

28 Agust 2020: The Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council expressed serious concerns about the situatio of the ChaoFa Hmong through a public allegation letter. The letter, signed by ten Special Rapporteurs, was sent to the goverment of Lao PDR. To date, the goverment has not sent an official reply to the allegation letter. The letter addressed allegations of state-sponsored persecution of the Hmong people. 

9 May 2020: a new armed attack was reported in the La Na area (Xaysombun Special Zone, Laos) on 9 May 2020. A Hmong man named Chor Xiong was fatally shot.

12 March 2020 : the disappearance of three Hmong minors and their accompanying adult has been reported. They were last seen at a check point in Paksan, Laos. Two weeks later, the vehicle which was transporting the group at the time of their disappearance was found off a hill with two dead bodies inside - the drivers - bearing marks of torture.

29 April 2019: At 4:39 and 5:36, Minnesota time, the CWHP received calls from the Xaysombun Special Zone, North of Vang Viang. Both calls reported the same attack: two went out to find food and were attacked by Lao military forces. Shooting and bombing was then heavy starting from 16:09 pm to 16:43, Lao time. The leader called back from his satellite phone at 8:17, Minnesota time, to report that they went nearby the location where the attack happened to observe the shooting scene, but feared that it may not be safe to go into the spot. However, there was no sign of the two men who escaped the attack. They have not returned to their group.

22 February 2019: At 5:28 am, Bangkok time, president Chonglor Her reported that Lao military forces have continually searched for the Hmong Chaofa people in the jungle and blocked their ways to find food sources. Heavy artillery are still being frequently launched to the Hmong Chaofa hideouts, who suffer very severely from starvation.

09 January 2019: at 11:01 pm president Chonglor Her reported that Lao military forces are still hunting and chasing the Hmong people in the jungle in PhouBia area. Lao military are still daily launching heavy artillery in the Hmong territory where possibly Hmong individuals are hiding and looking for food. As Mi17 helicopters are still flying every day, president Her said that some of them may equipe with some sort of radar or human locating devices that can be used to search for the Hmong people, who continue to face severe starvation. In regard to the group that has surrendered, the Laotian authorities have confiscated all of their cell phones.

18 December 2018: at 6:02 pm President Chonglor Her reported that Lao military forces still continue to chase and hunt the Hmong Chaofa people in the jungle. Mi17 helicopters fly every day to Lao military bases and the Hmong people are constantly moving to avoid Lao military attacking.

09 December 2018: At 6:31 pm US Central time president Chonglor Her highlighted that after nearly two months of the first attack on October 20, 2018 that has culminated in this severe condition, Lao military forces have been chasing and hunting the Hmong people, who continue to suffer from severe starvation due to the military presence and difficulty to find food in the nature. 

04 December 2018: at 8:51 pm, US central time, president Chonglor Her called to report that Lao military forces have increased their aggression heavier all over the Hmong Chaofa territory. Mi17 helicopters are flying every day, appearing to be searching for the Hmong Chaofa people in the jungle. President Chonglor Her and his people are starving very severely and have been on constant move, with no place to hide. Their shoes and clothes have been torn as they have been moving around the thick forest and steep mountains up and down since the attacking on October 20, 2018.

23 November 2018: UNPO was informed that four of President Her's men sent a group of 52 Hmong individuals to a road nearby to wait for inside military commanders to accept them. Later that day, at 10:29 pm US Central time, President Her reported that the group of 52 Hmong people who have surrendered to Lao military have arrived in Phonsavanh, Xiengkhouang, Laos. The Hmong people in the jungle continue to be hunted and chased, as well as suffer from severe starvation. Their future is unpredictable.

21 November 2018: at 4:25 US central time, President Chonglor Her called to report that his Hmong community was under attacked at 2:00 pm (Bangkok time) on November 21, 2018. This latest attack led to the death of three people and other three were wounded, including men, women and a baby. One of the victime, Vadoua Vang, was shot and wounded and is currently in critical condition. His wife was shot and killed and his son was shot and wounded on the leg. A representative from the CWHP has spoke with President Her and Vadoua Vang. Vadoua said he decided to take many Hmong Chaofa people to surrender to the Lao military forces on the following day due to lack of medication and food sources. Their faith is unknown.

19 November 2018: Around 11:30 am (Bangkok time) Lao military forces attacked the Hmong Chaofa community in the Hmong Chaofa territory, leaving as victims one wounded and one deceased man. Currently, the lao military forces are occupying the Hmong Chaofa territory heavily. The Hmong people have no place to go and to hide. Also, they are not able to find food sources in nature due to Lao military systematic persecution and isolation. Men, women and children are starving severely.

18 November 2018: at 11:01 pm, President Her reported that Lao military forces were currently attacking his people (the Hmong Chaofa people) at their current location in the Hmong Chaofa territory.

15 November 2018: President Her called to report on November 15, 2018 at 5:09 pm, Lao Time, that Lao military forces have increased their heavy artillery and continues on bombing the Hmong territory. The Hmong people don't know where to go and to hide. Mi17 helicopters are still flying to the Lao military bases every day from the morning to late evening. Currently, the Hmong people suffer from severe starvation due to heavy military isolation and lack of wild food sources in the region.

12 November 2018: at 2:28 am president Chonglor Her called and reported that the Lao military continues to launch heavy artillery such as 60 mm, 80 mm, 120 mm and 130 mm bombing throughout the Hmong Chaofa territory and Mi17 helicopters are flying to the Lao military bases every day and scouting the area. Lao military has heavily occupied the Hmong Chaofa territory. The wounded people, from the attacking on October 15th and 20th 2018, are at slow healing stage. The Hmong Chaofa people including men, women and children are still facing starvation severely.

5 November 2018: At 7:25 pm US Central time, President Her called from his satellite phone to report that Mi17 helicopters are flying everyday to the Lao military base, some of which seemed to be searching the area, maybe for Hmong ChaoFa peoplle. He also reported that there are two brigadges of Lao military occupying the Hmong Chaofa territory, Brigadge 101 from Southern and Brigadge 103 from northern, which can be combined to invade the Hmong Chaofa territory and, according to data received from an internal intelligence sources, to wipe out the Hmong Chaofa by the end of November 2018. Lao military forces are still launching heavy artillery scattered throughout the Hmong Chaofa refuge territory.

The Hmong Chaofa people are facing severe starvation due to the lack of food sources and the limited ways of searching for food in the wild, as people were isolated and are still being hunted by the Lao military. With no other alternative to survive, Hmong Chaofa men, women and children are currently feeding themselves with leaves and roots which are believed to be least harmful to human’s body.

2 November 2018: President Chonglor Her called the CWHP to report that from 31 October 2018 to 2 November 2018, 10:25 Laos time, Lao military has continued launching heavy artillery throughout the areas of the Laotian jungle where some Hmong live. Helicopters have also been flying in the area every day. The Hmong Chaofa are facing severe starvation and the wounded people are in pain due to a lack of available medication. Some of them are also reported to be infected with poisoning due to the attacks and experience the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, chest congestion, weak arms and legs.

28 October 2018: UNPO has received a report from President Her who informed that his people are still infected with poisoning from the rocket propellant that exploded nearby his hiding location on 21 October 2018 after 8:00 pm. Mr. Her described that while the rocket propellants were quiet and they could not identify where they came from, they have exploded with loud sharp cracking noise like thunder strike and it felt like they had exploded in the air. People are experiencing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, chest congestion, weakeness on legs and arms. Mr. Her further reported that the Lao military continues to launch heavy artillery on his territory and that there are helicopters flying every day to the Lao military base. According to him, as soldiers are still occupying the ChaoFa Hmong territory, it is extremely difficult for his people to forage for food and they are suffering from severe starvation. In addition, the wounded people from the attacking from the Lao military are suffering with pain due to the lack of access to medication.

22 October 2018: President Her reported that since the morning until 12:30 pm, the Laotian military fired 120mm and 130mm bullets, which bombed his hiding location 100 times. He has also stated that the two wounded people are in critical condition with no medication and they are not able to go out to find traditional herbal medicine, as the Lao military surrounded the Hmong territory.Mr. Her states that people are in severe starvation and they have no possibility to  forage for food.

20 October 2018: at 5:30 am local time, the Laotian military attacked President Her’s community hiding location in a strategic attempt to stifle his reach to society. The fighting continued until 10 am, leaving five Hmong ChaoFa people killed and two wounded, among them men, women and children.

15 October 2018: It was reported that a fighting broke out at 3PM, local time, with the Lao military, when a group of 30 ChaoFa Hmong have encountered a group of Lao military while searching for food. Taking place northeast of Xieng Khoung, about 10 kilometers west of Phou Bia, the fighting continues in the remotes areas of the region and soldiers were seen everywhere. The Laotian military blocked them from finding food supplies in the area and immediately open fired on the Hmong. As fighting continued, one army tank and two army trucks loaded with Lao military arrived and joined in from 3pm to 6pm. One man was shot on the shoulder, and the rest of the group managed to escape safely. President Her expressed concerns over access to food and medication, as well as to the safety of all children.

3 October 2018: Representatives of UNPO's member Congress of World Hmong People (CWHP) have shared concerning photos and videos indicating the continuing use of chemical weapons against Hmong groups living in the Laotian jungle. On one video, a couple cries while holding their baby, who died on 23 of September from poisoning artery weapons shoot into their area on 13 September.

7 September 2018: President Her reported that on 3 September 2018 Lao military built a new base about 1,5km away from his current community, adding on to the other military bases that are shown on Google Maps. The new base reflects the continuation of Lao military’s campaign of militarization of the area, encroaching even further on Hmong hideouts and imposing more blockages to Hmong Chaofa people’s paths to finding food in nature. While Lao military regularly go out of the bases to patrol and hunt them while they search for food, helicopters continue on flying every day in and out of these bases, which makes even more difficult for Hmong people to safely search for food and water.

1 September 2018:  82mm mortars were launched about 8 times on President Her’s community during the late night and early morning. Afterwards, people were affected with poisoning, experiencing symptoms as nausea, dizziness and diarrhea.

20 August 2018: Two people were shot and killed by Lao military while searching for food in the area.

23 July 2018: A helicopter is seen flying over a Hmong community on the morning of the 23 July 2018 in Northern Laos. Three days later, people fall sick, with symptoms including headaches, dizziness, vomiting and fever and a two month-old baby dies. Local communities suspect that the helicopter flight was a planned chemical attack on the Hmong community and that the symptomps they show are the effects of a poisonous attack. 

8 April 2018: While the launching of heavy artillery by the military into the Hmong Chaofa area has ceased, 60 mm and 80 mm artillery is still being deployed 4-5 times whenever a helicopter lands in the military bases surrounding the Hmong camps. The bases continue to grow, and President Her implores the international community to send humanitarian aid and international observers to the region, adding that the starvation is becoming more severe by the day.  

11 February 2018: A report by President Her says that on 6 February 2018 at approximately 5:40 pm six Hmong Chaofa people left the jungle for a village in search of food and were circled and attacked by the Lao military.  There was heavy fighting at the scene and although most of the Chaofa got away there were many Lao soldiers killed. President Her claims that the Lao military still launches heavy artillery such as 80 mm, 120 mm and 130 mm rounds across the Hmong Chaofa territory every morning, noon and evening, and continues to urge the EU, UN, and US to sent an international observer to witness the situation.

24 January 2018: The Laotian army continues to launch heavy long-range artillery (80 mm and 130 mm) into the Hmong ChaoFa territory. According to President Her, the attacks happen throughout the day, from 5 am in the early morning to 8 pm in the evening. Helicopters from the Pha Hay area, east of Long Tieng, continue to circle over the Hmong's refuge area. President Her urges the international community to send observers and send humanitarian aid.

5 January 2018: The Laotian military launches heavy artillery strikes into the territory of the Hmong ChaoFa. According to reports available to President Her, on 8 January 2018, the Laotian troops plan to launch another concerted attack  with heavy artillery to complete wipe out the Hmong population in their refuge area. Reportedly, a battalion of Vietnamese troops normally stationed in Long Tieng is to join the Laotian military in this mission.

12 December 2017: As part of the overall increase in heavy artillery shelling by the Laotian military, government troops now seem to speciifically target the Hmong CHaoFa's access routes to wild food sources. Heavy artillery fire on their region continues (see picture below).

6 December 2017: In the evening, at 6:53 pm local time, a helicopter circles the Hmong's hideout area. A few days after the incident, members of President Her's group suffer from symptoms which usually occur after expore to mustard gas, including nausea, dizziness, headaches, a congestion of the chest and weakened legs.

2 December 2017: At 10:30 am, Lao time, the military shoots heavy artillery into Hmong territory. The shelling lasts for more than three day in a row. President Her urges the European Union and the United States Department of State to take immediate action.

5-7 November 2017: According to President Her the Laotian military launches heavy artillery into the Hmong ChaoFa's territory. His group of Hmong, including women and children, find it difficult to find food sources as the military appears to systematically encroach on their territory.

2 April 2017: According to President Her, who lives in the Phou Bia region, "since 4 February 2017, the Lao military continue launching heavy weapons (...) into [the] region". The Laotian army reportedly uses 120MM and 82DK weapons and have helicopters flying back and forth between military bases in the region.

18 December 2016: Two new bases get heavily militarized. Two helicopters are flying between these bases every day.

10 December 2016: The regiment 3 arrived at the Saysombun Phou Bia region, coming from Udomsay and Houa Phan. It is made up of military personnel with a manpower to approximately 4.000 people and 20 military tanks (12 cargos, 4 tanks equipped with a 105mm long-range weapon, hauling 4 additional long-range weapons, plus 4 I AM tanks)

5 December 2016: Two Lao battalions are moving toward the Saysombun Special Zone, Phou Bia; Battalion number 101 from Vientiane and number 509 from Xieng Khouang. 

1 December 2016: Plight of Hmong people was covered by Vietnam Veteran News.

30 October 2016: The Lao military continues the systematic militarization of Hmong territory by building more bases in the area. Two military regiments are now occupying the territory as part of a plan to completely eliminate the Hmong by the end of December 2016. Regiment 101 from Vientiane consists of 500 troops, is led by a colonel and advances the region from the South of Phoubia. Regiment 596 from Xiengkhouang consists of 500 troops, also led by a colonel, advances from the North of Phoubia. Reportedly, the Vietnamese Colonel Thong Lai is the strategic head of the operation and is leading a group of soldiers who are stationed at the newly-established Base 1.

25 October 2016: In what seems like a planned operation to systematically exterminate the Hmong community by the end of December 2016, the Laotian government has deployed heavy military in order to occupy all of the Hmong territory. In addition to that, the Laotian military systematically blocks ways for the Hmong to find food. As the latter are unable to grow crops on their territories because constant military attacks force them to change places continuously, the Hmong depend on wild roots and leaves for their survival.

18 October 2016: Groups of starved Hmong get lured into a killing site after food and supplies were offered to them.

17 October 2016: The Lao Military attacks a group of Hmong near Muoang Cha. Two Hmong men get killed, 18-year-old Kim Vang and 25-year-old Vangxeng Vang.

11 October 2016: The Lao Military attacks one of the Hmong communities. 47-year-old Chongva Vang is wounded at his chest.

6 October 2016: A 5-months-old baby dies from chemical poisoning.

21 September 2016: A 1½-month-old baby dies from chemical poisoning caused by a Lao attack with rockets loaded with toxic gas. Reportedly, the infant’s death was caused by violent coughing following the chemical attack. Many people are affected by the same chemical poisoning, with symptoms such as coughing, dizziness, vomiting and weakness of legs and arms. After nightfall, the Lao military resumes its attack on Hmong communities and continues to fire toxic rockets on Hmong refuges.

14-23 September 2016: Two Hmong men, Vajntxiag Vaj and Vue Thao, are summoned to meet with a Lao police officer in the village of Lat Houang. They disappear without a trace after following the subpoena on 14 September. On 20 September, a Laotian fisherman discovers Vajntxiag Vaj’s dead body hanging from the branch of a tree in the water. His injuries, including broken arms and legs, suggest that he was beaten to death and then tossed into the river. On 23 September, Vue Thao’s dead body is found with the same kind of injuries.

May 2016: Lao soldiers continue hunting down Hmong in the dense forest areas in which they have sought refuge. On 17 May, Loa military forces are spotted in the area of Na Mou and Mount Pha Leng Zoua, and, on 20 May, in areas close to a Hmong refuge in Phou Bia.

4 May 2016: Government military forces launch an attack on a Hmong village in the Xaysomboun Province of Laos. This 200-people strong community is part of a population of approximately 1,000 ethnic Hmong scattered throughout the area. At least two civilians are killed, Ms Pa Moua and Mr True Xiong. The latter’s body cannot be recovered. The Congress of World Hmong People (CWHP) accuses the Vietnamese government of secretly supplying the Lao military with the artillery ammunition needed to carry out such attacks. Laos and Vietnam are known to work hand in hand in their targeted persecution of the Hmong people.

23 April 2016: A white helicopter is repeatedly seen circling over Hmong territory at a very low altitude of about 100 meters. It might not have the appearance of an army helicopter, but locals report that the Lao government uses civilian helicopters to hide its military activities in the area. Locals suspect that the helicopter sprayed poison over the area as, after its appearance, the community suffers from poisoning symptoms, such as dizziness, diarrhoea, shortness of breath and vomiting. Internal intelligence sources say that the Lao military uses these tactics to debilitate Hmong communities already weakened by food insecurity before invading the area with ground forces.

8 April 2016: The Lao military, reportedly with the assistance of Vietnamese forces, launches a massive military incursion into the territory of Hmong communities in the Phou Bia region. According to various estimates, between 2,000 and 12,000 Hmong had fled to this isolated, mountainous jungle regions of Laos in an attempt to seek refuge from continuing persecution and violence at the hands of the Lao authorities. The regime has been accused of expropriating the Hmong and of selling of their lands for short-term economic benefit, while using “rural development” and “poverty alleviation” as a pretext to justify environmentally unsustainable activities in the Hmong territory, including dam building projects and illegal logging.

2013-2015: The Lao military closes in on the Hmong and continues surrounding communities in the Phou Bia region by increasing the density of military installations and bases. This makes it increasingly difficult for Hmong indigenous communities to go out searching for food. The military occupation continues to be of great concern for the Hmong and substantially threatens their survival, which leads to clashes between them and the Lao military, leaving hundreds of Hmong dead or injured. ChaoFa President Her urges the international community to send immediate humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of his people.

13 December 2013: From being a “special administrative zone”, Xaisomboun became a province on December 2013. The installation of military bases and presence of soldiers continued growing reaching a high number and making difficult for the Hmong in the area to move without being exposed to the encounter with soldiers.

2 October 2013: The Lao government uses dogs to hunt down Hmong people. Lao military forces invade the area in the east of Moungxaysombun, Moung Cha.

2009: Mr. Chong Lor Her becomes the new president of the ChaoFa party and continues to be so to this today

June 2007:  The government of Thailand forcibly repatriates 163 Hmong asylum seekers to  Laos, where they will face political persecution and human rights abuses

1994-2006: Between June 1994 and 2006, Xaisomboun was designated a Special Administrative Zone with the military controlling the area and facilitating the exploit timber resources. If the active persecution was going on for already decades for historical reasons, the escalation of the human rights abuses against the Hmong in the region and in particular in the PhouBia area, reach alarming numbers. Military bases were built in the region. The military campaings attacked not only the hidden in the jungle, in a large number civilians, but also Hmong living in the villages. Other times, they merely drive the inhabitants out and forcibly relocated in other areas or fled Laos taking refuge in Thailand.

1999-2002: ChaoFa faces rapid changes in leadership. After President Zong Zoua Hers' death, Pa Kao Her becomes the new president of the ChaoFa Party in 1999. He moves the ChaoFa headquarters to Phong Saly in Laos’ Northernmost province, close to the border between Thailand and Laos. When President Pa Kao Her is assassinated in 2002 by an unidentified gunman, Yang Lue is elected as the new president. He moves the party’s headquarters back to the Phou Bia region. After just a short time, he disappears under mysterious circumstances. Many ChaoFa Hmong surrendered to the LPRP.

1973-1975: After all warring factions had signed a peace treaty (Paris Peace Accords) in January 1973, the Vietnam War officially ends with the withdrawal of US troops and the capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese Army in April 1975. 

When the US then realized that there was no hope of winning the war and withdrew all its troops, the Hmong were left to fend for themselves – with devastating consequences for their community. Soon, the new Lao government turned against the Hmong and announced publicly that it intended to wipe them out.

Immediately, the new Lao authorities turns against the Hmong people who had supported the US during the war. One by one, Hmong villages are invaded and their inhabitants killed, illegally arrested and detained. Hmong leaders such as Tou Bee LyFong are arrested and sent to “re-education camps”, leaving the Hmong community at large concerned for their security.

Eventually, the Hmong decide to defend their freedom and rights. To that end, they form the ChaoFa political party under the leadership of President Zong Zoua Her. Phoua Bia is chosen as the party’s headquarter. 

1955 -1975: the Hmong people were recruited by US forces – and in particular the CIA – to counter the invasion of Northern Laos and attack North Vietnamese supply lines in an operation which is sometimes referred to as the US’s “Secret War”.