Jul 05, 2018

Open Letter to EU Decision-Makers Sheds Light on Plight of the Hmong

For over a year, UNPO has been campaigning to raise awareness about the Hmong people’s history and struggle, especially that of those living in the jungle of Laos. In the course of its effort to raise awareness on the deplorable situation of the Hmong people from the Laotian jungle, UNPO has reached out to journalists, filmmakers and photojournalists, most of whom have had the opportunity to witness these communities’ first hand, who joined forces on an open letter to call for support for them.

This open letter was addressed to key European decision-makers, including the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ms Frederica Mogherini, EU Special Representative for Human Rights Mr Stavros Lambrinidids and Members of the European Parliament.

By reaching out to the EU institutions and raising the case of these Hmong communities, the signatories, along with UNPO and its Member the Congress of World Hmong People hope that action will be taken on this matter in order to safeguard the lives of those affected.   

The letter sent to EU decision-makers is the following:

Brussels, 18 June 2018

Open letter to European decision-makers

RE: Urgency of the situation of Northern Laos’ Hmong people

Dear High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,

Dear Special Representative of the European Union for Human Rights,

Dear MEPs of the European Parliament,

As journalists, reporters, filmmakers and authors we have all witnessed and/or researched the alarming situation of the Hmong Secret War Veterans living in the jungle of Northern Laos.

Ever since the end of the Vietnam War, during which the Hmong fought alongside the United States, some Hmong communities have been suffering from inhumane living conditions. Needing to escape the Laotian forces, these communities fled to remote areas of the country. Lao People’s Armed Forces (LPAF) persecuted these communities after the war ended and continue to do so today, regularly leading violent military attacks against Hmong settlements in those areas, which result in members of the community being either killed or injured.

The fact that their plight continues to be ignored by the international community is alarming and of great concern. Children suffer from stunting, food insecurity is omnipresent and the lack of healthcare facilities leads to a very high rate of maternal mortality.

Human rights violations have been occurring in the region for decades but international organisations and journalists are still denied access to assist and observe these communities. Calls by independent organisations such as the UNHCR to have access to these areas and be allowed to re-establish an in-country presence are repeatedly denied by the Laotian Government. The Hmong who manage to flee Laos into Thailand are often forcefully repatriated and frequently face cruel punishments, such as torture and disastrous conditions in overcrowded prisons.

Despite repeated calls over the last 15 years by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for the immediate end of acts of violence against these Hmong and the granting of humanitarian access to the community, concrete actions have yet to be taken. The plight of these Hmong communities also remains largely unknown despite the few cases, documented by journalists, filmmakers, authors and photographers who have been able to witness their oppression and suffering or have assisted and collaborated with Hmong refugees in the United States or Guyana.

Given the European Union’s commitment to the respect of human rights and in the context of the human rights dialogue regularly taking place with Laos, we respectfully implore that the European Union calls upon its partners to take immediate action to guarantee the respect of human rights and the protection of human dignity of each and every individual, Hmong or otherwise, currently the target of human rights abuses by the LPAF in Laos. If nothing is done at the international level many more will certainly perish.

Yours sincerely,

David Berian

(Filmmaker, Reporter)

Lillian Farderman

(Historian, Writer)

Frank Belyeu

(Researcher, Investigative Reporter)

Philip Blenkinsop


Frédéric Tonolli

(Filmmaker, Writer)

Ruhi Hamid


Gymbay Moua


Sergio Caro

(Photographer and DoP)

James Her


Thierry Falise



You can also download the open letter here.