Oct 28, 2021

Hmong : UNPO submits ChaoFa Hmong case to UN Genocide Prevention Office

UNPO has written a letter to the Office on Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect over the subject of the ChaoFa Hmong in Laos. UNPO and its member the Congress of World Hmong People believe the actions of the Laotian government, aided by the Vietnamese Army, in the Northern provinces, constitute an early indication of potential genocide. We strongly urge the UN and international community to take action given the seriousness of the situation.


Photo by the World Bank collective

The letter, addressed to the Secretary General of the Office on Genocide Prevention, is part of a broader campaign from UNPO and the CWHP to raise awareness in the international community about the plight of Hmong in Xaisombun, Laos. UNPO had already succeeded in bringing the case to the attention of the Special Rapporteurs for Human Rights, Minority Issues and several other sectors. These sent a joint allegation letter to the Laotian Government.

The Laotian government has systematically ignored these letters, as well as many other International Community requests for investigations into their activities. The situation in ChaoFa Hmong homelands in the North of Laos is worsening, as the Laotian government looks to eradicate the population living there in order to build a lucrative tourism aimed at Chinese and Vietnamese citizens. They have subsequently blocked access to the region, and now worryingly only military personnel can travel there. Recently, in a response to the Special Rapporteurs, the Lao PDR government denied even the existence of ChaoFa Hmong.

Since 2016, the Laotian Security Forces have reportedly been indiscriminately firing on Hmong civilians, including children, in the area. Ethnic Hmong in the region largely have had to live in the jungle or blend into urban areas. The ChaoFa Hmong fear that the Laotian government is preparing one final eradication program and want the Office on Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect to investigate their actions.

The Hmong’s demands for refugee status are also being rejected, as many are turned back when crossing the borders into Vietnam or Thailand seeking refugee status. They are essentially trapped and require the UNHCR’s intervention, which has not been forthcoming.

With its demand for more foreign investment, the Laotian government has proven that it can and will respond to international incentives. The international community needs to take up this challenge and press the government, using the incentive of withdrawal of foreign aid and trade, to open up the Xaisomboun province where the ChaoFa Hmong live and allow independent observers to evaluate the risk of genocide and let humanitarian aid in. We hope this request to the Office on Genocide Prevention will give the grave situation the attention it deserves.

Even before this latest push by the Laotian government, the Hmong in Laos have been an unrecognized minority often sidelined by government authorities. To read about their situation visit their member profile on our website.

Click here to read the report this specific case is based.