May 21, 2008

Hmong: Attacks Against Civilians Mount

Sample ImageConfidential Lao government and military sources as well as Hmong hiding in the Phou Bia region of Laos have reported heavy and renewed attacks by the regime against Lao Hmong civilians in the Phou Bia area, and elsewhere in Laos.

Below is an article published by Media Newswire:

Hundreds of civilian casualties and atrocities have resulted from these brutal new attacks by Lao and Vietnamese troops over the last two weeks, which have intensified in recent days with the deployment of hundreds of additional government soldiers.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic ( LPDR ), under the firm grip of the communist Lao People’s Revolutionary Party ( LPRP ) and working alongside the armed forces of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam ( SRV ), is a one-party military junta that is closely allied with Burma and North Korea.

“Laos continues to use food as a weapon against the Hmong people hiding in the jungles of Laos,” stated T. Kumar, Advocacy Director and Asia Policy expert at Amnesty International, Washington, D.C., at a Congressional Forum on Laos conducted on January 31, 2008, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The LPDR government has decided to increase the number of active military personnel involved in the anti-Hmong military operations in the Phou Bia region; Currently in one area, some 300 LPDR Army soldiers and 100 SRV Army advisors and officers are engaged in attacks on Hmong civilians, most of whom are unarmed women and children,” stated Vaughn Vang of the Lao Human Rights Council  ( LHRC ).

Vang also reported further:  “These soldiers are currently using heavy artillery batteries and helicopter gunships, both outfitted with chemical weapons which are reported to act as a defoliant, to cause blindness upon contact and often intestinal failure resulting in death.  A Lao official claims that the LPDR mission is to exterminate all the ‘internally displaced’ Hmong groups by the end of this year using conventional weapons and ground forces with artillery and aerial deployed chemical weapons.”

Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis stated: “The Lao Hmong from the jungles and mountains inside Laos are reporting that Hmong women, children, and elderly, in hiding, are starving.  Other Lao Hmong trapped in the jungles are in critical condition from these attacks; Many of these civilians are also wounded during the constant conventional military attacks by the Lao and Vietnamese ground forces."

"Moreover, there is no medical access or supplies to help these sick and injured civilians, so many more are dying as a result of these new Lao and Vietnamese military attacks at Phou Bia and elsewhere in the country," Smith said.

Lao officials have also reported that members of the LPDR ministries have met for the past two weeks to plan the strategy and military operations to exterminate the Hmong hiding in the jungles.  Senior level SRV and Lao ministry of defense meetings have been conducted in recent days regarding the situation in Laos according to official SRV government sources, including the Vietnam News Agency.

“The Hmong currently suffering under LPDR military attack in the Phou Bia area are requesting that journalists and members of the international community help continue to document the evidence of LPDR and SRV military operations and atrocities in Laos against civilians.  It is the hope of these internally displaced Laotian and Hmong peoples that such reports may help raise awareness and stop the LPDR from continuing their intensified campaign of ethnic cleansing, mass starvation and extermination of unarmed civilians, dissident groups and religious believers in hiding,” concluded Smith.

Al Jazeera's correspondent Tony Birtley travelled in secret to the jungles of northern Laos where he documented and reported about the horrific plight of the Hmong.

“Without international humanitarian intervention, it is many Hmong in-hiding will be killed or starved to death by joint Lao and Vietnamese military forces in the next few weeks,” concluded Vaughn Vang.

"We urge the military forces of Vietnam to immediately cease attacking the Hmong people in Xieng Khouang Province, Luangbrabang Province, Vientiane Province and elsewhere in Laos, and completely withdrawal all of their troops from Laos back to Hanoi," stated Boun Boulaphanh, Lao Community Leader and advisor to the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. who recently lead dozens of protestors demonstrating outside the Lao Embassy in Washington, D.C. following a policy conference on May 1, 2008 hosted by the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc.

Hmong groups hiding in the jungle as well as elements within the Lao government both acknowledge that the Hmong are targets for attack […] by the LPDR regime  because of their former alliance with the United States during the Vietnam War.