Washington, D.C. (RushPRNews) March 1, 2008 -A coalition of Lao and Hmong organizations in Washington, D.C. have denounced the visit of Thai Premier Samak Sundaravej to Laos following his government’s brutal forced repatriation of Lao-Hmong refugees and asylum seekers in recent days back to Laos and the Lao militaryâ€™s new offensive against unarmed Lao and Hmong civilians and opposition groups.
Radio Free Asia and other sources have documented the use of attack dogs by the Thai military against Lao Hmong refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao, who were brutally repatriated back to the Lao regime that they fled, in preparation for Premier Samak’s visit to Laos in the following days.
Samakâ€™s appears timed to a renewed military offensive by Lao and Vietnamese military forces massing in key strategic regions of Laos. Samakâ€™s visit occurs at a time when main ground force army units and special forces of the Lao Peopleâ€™s Democratic Republic (LPDR) and the Peoples Army of Socialist Vietnam (PASV) are intensifying offensive military operations and ethnic cleansing attacks against Lao-Hmong civilians and unarmed, dissident and opposition groups in Laos. In some parts of Laos, insolated pockets of lightly armed Laotian and Hmong opposition groups, with an anemic defensive capabilities, are also under heavy attack.
New battalions of Vietnamese troops from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) and Lao troops with additional artillery and military equipment have been deployed in recent weeks at Phou Bia Mountain and Phou Da Phao in an effort to encircle, attack and starve to death Laotian and Hmong civilians, including unarmed Christian and dissident religious minority groups. The Lao and SRV troops are also apparently being deployed to seek to keep humanitarian aid workers, independent journalists and religious missionary groups out of the closed military zone who seek to assist these vulnerable populations and displaced people.
â€œIn apparent preparation and coordination with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, LPDR government military and para-military security forces, including elite heliborne special operations forces, rocket-equipped attack helicopters and heavy artillery, have frequently been deployed in recent days and weeks in a massive military operation to isolate and destroy Hmong communities and villages in the mountains and jungles, especially around Phou Bia mountain and Saysamboune Closed Military Zone and kill Laotian and Hmong political and religious dissident groups, who are suspected of opposing the Lao regime, and who are hiding in the mountains and jungles,â€ stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. â€œThe LPDR and PASV forces are continuing to use food as a weapon and have starved to death hundreds of Lao and Hmong civilians in recent weeks as well as engaging in summary executions, large-scale atrocities and war crimes in their indiscriminate attacks,â€ Smith continued.
Amnesty International has issued a number of recent reports regarding the Lao governments brutal attacks and use of food as a weapon against unarmed Hmong people in Laos.
â€œWe urge the Lao military regime to cease using food as a weapon against the Hmong people and halt its attacks on innocent Lao and Hmong civilians and dissident opposition groups; the LPDR regime should immediately comply with the demands of the U.S. Congress on these matters, including H. Resolution 402, which passed the U.S. Congress in 2004 unanimously,â€ stated Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America.
On January 31, 2008, Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt was again invited to testify in the U.S. Congress along with Amnesty International’s Advocacy Director T. Kumar about the crisis in Laos at a special session of the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos. Dr. Merritt ‘s provided evidence and testimony about the Lao government’s increased attacks on Laotian and Hmong civilians in Laos. She is an award winning Southeast Asian Scholar, journalist and author of Tragic Mountains: the Hmong, The Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos (Indiana University Press). http://www. tragicmountains.org
Dr. Merritt has been been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights and humanitarian work on behalf of the Laotian and Hmong people.
According to a recent article entitled “The Two Faces of Communist Laos” in Front Page Magazine (www.frontpagemagazine.com) by Michael Benge, on February 28,2008, the Lao government is intent on annihilating the Hmong in Laos. http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=BFCDA612-EC24-4237-BDC1-5FC0E61F6C3F
“While Thai Premier Samak is in Vientiane, Laos, drinking tea with the Lao Communist generals, apparently showing off the Hmong refugees that were attacked by dogs and forced back to Laos prior to his visit, thousands of unarmed Hmong villagers and civilans are now under bloody attack by SRV Vietnamese and Lao military forces that have been recently deployed to starve and kill these innocent people at Phou Bia Mountain, Phou Da Phao and elsewhere in Laos,” stated Vaughn Vang, Director of the Lao Human Rights Council. “We want Thai Premier Samak to press the Lao government and the Vietnamese military to stop its attacks on the peace-loving Lao and Hmong civilians and to halt the repatriation of Lao-Hmong refugees and asylum seekers from Thailand to Laos.”
Mr. Nao Kong Vue, a representative for the Hmong groups in-hiding in Phoa Bia, Phou lang, Pha Phai, Xiengkhouang province, Laos recently recently made the following appeal while his people were under heavy LPDR and PASV military attack :
â€œWe are appealing to the United Nation, United Nation Security Council, Amnesty International, U.S. Congress, and the President of the United States, all human rights organizations, the European Union, and the world community to immediately demand President Chommaly Syasone to withdraw all his military ground and air forces out of all the areas Hmong groups are in-hiding. We are only civilians, women, and children; we are unarmed. We will all be run over and killed by these military troops in the next few weeks.â€
Mr. Nao Kong Vue continued his statement from inside Laos where his people are surrounded: â€œThe Lao government gave an official order for three battatlions combined with the Vietnamese military to exterminate all Hmong groups in-hiding by the end 2008. Currentely, The Lao government military troops are launching heavy military attacks, using artillery, helicopter gun ships and have surrounded all Hmong groups in-hiding in Phou Da Phao, XiengKhouang Privince, Phou Bia, XiengKhouang Privince, Vanveing.â€
On February 8, 2008, Radio Free Asian (RFA) reported that the Lao Government has announced a special order to kill Hmong groups in hiding with a reward of six million kip (U.S. $600) per head for killing a Hmong fighter.
â€˜The Lao regime, while ruthlessly pursuing unarmed Hmong villagers and civilians in the jungles with fully equipped military forces, is also currently engaged in a campaign of mass starvation against the Hmong and others who wish to live independent from the repression of the Lao government,” stated Schuyler Merritt, Research Director for the Center for Public Policy Analysis.
“Lao opposition pro-democracy groups, including those who support the peaceful Lao Students Movement for Democracy of October 1999, oppose the visit of Premier Samak to Laos and the appeasement of the brutal and bloody communist Pathet Lao regime,” stated Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. â€œWe want Premier Samak to raise the issue of the imprisoned leaders of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy and urge the Lao government to release this peaceful prisoners of conscience as Amnesty International and others have called for; Moreover, it is in Thailand’s interest to call for the immediate withdrawal of all Vietnamese forces in Laos, including the new battalions of forces recently deployed by Hanoi to attack the peace-loving Lao and Hmong people who wish to live only in freedom and to avoid repression and explotation from Communist Vietnam and the LPDR regimeâ€ Mr. Rathigna concluded.
Independent news and pro-democracy opposition to the Lao regime continues despite the LPDR’s Press Predator status designation by Paris-based Journalists Without Borders. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=11715
Important information and alternative perspectives on Laos and the LPDR regime are offered by the Laos Institute for Democracy and Lao Seritham News in California and well as numerous independent, privately run Lao and Hmong radio stations operating in the United States and internationally in addition to Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. www.laosdemocracy.com
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