Hmong Students, College Discuss Human Rights, Refugee Crisis in Laos, Thailand
Tao Lor, Vice President of the Asian American Club at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) in Green Bay, Wisconsin, spoke about the importance of hearing from a distinguished scholar about the Hmong and American relationship during the Vietnam War era and the College's invitation to Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt to lecture about this important subject on the campus.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C., Green Bay and Appleton, Wisconsin, November 13, 2008, For Immediate Release
In Green Bay, Wisconsin, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College ( NWTC ) recently hosted guest lecturer Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt who spoke on November 5, 2008, to the Asian Club, Hmong-Americans, university students and faculty about the human rights and refugee crisis in Thailand and Laos facing Hmong and Laotian refugees and asylum seekers.
On Wednesday and Thursday, November 5-6, Dr. Hamilton-Merritt was also welcomed by, and met, with Hmong community leaders and public officials in the Green Bay and Appleton area of Wisconsin.
NWTC faculty, staff and students, including Hmong students, as well as community leaders, offered their observations today about Dr. Hamilton-Merritt’s visit and the impact of her presentation and outreach to the campus and community.
Tao Lor, Vice President of the Asian American Club at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College ( NWTC ) in Green Bay, Wisconsin, spoke about the importance of hearing from a distinguished scholar about the Hmong and American relationship during the Vietnam War era and the College’s invitation to Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt to lecture about this important subject on the campus.
As Dr. Hamilton-Merritt showed video slides of the atrocities committed against the Hmong in Laos by the current government there, many in the audience wept.
For a number of the Hmong American students at NWTC, seeing photos of such places as Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in northern Thailand where several of them were born was very emotional. Following Hamilton-Merritt's lecture, Lor pointed out that for the first time, every American student and staff at NWTC could know the Hmong suffering in Laos and also know why Hmong people had to no choice but to come to America.
Lor and other Hmong American students reported their deep appreciation for Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt's efforts in bringing national attention to the Hmong humanitarian problems in Thailand and in Laos. "We are happy," said Lor, "to know that there are people like Dr. Jane who still care about the Hmong people."
“I would say that Dr. Jane's presentation was very moving and saddening at the same time,” observed Megan Popkey,” Student Life Coordinator at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
Ms. Popkey continued: “It is unfathomable to hear the atrocities that are still happening to the Hmong people in Laos today and to have this presentation be the first time many of us had heard about these events is so unfortunate. There needs to be a much louder voice to shed light on this horrible situation…We were very fortunate to have Dr. Jane with us. “ "I think it was a great eye opener for the students and younger kids. They were able to learn about their [Hmong]culture and what their parents went through to get here,” said Gema Garcia , Multicultural Center Coordinator at NWTC.
"Dr. Jane did a fantastic job giving information on both the past and present of Laos. I had no idea that the Hmong population was still struggling like they are. Hearing what Dr. Jane had to say makes me have a better appreciation for life. We tend to take for granted of what we have," stated Kathy O'Brien, with Student Life Aid at NWTC.
AJ Blazek with NWTC Facilities Department remarked: "The story is sad, I was surprised to hear that genocide is still going on in Laos. It amazing after 20 years this type of hatred and human suffering is still going on. Dr. Jane gave us a real eye opener."
Mr. Yia Thao a Hmong-American community leader stated: “As elected president for the Hmong community here in the Greater Green Bay area, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge your leadership, interest, commitment, support, and continued support the Hmong people locally, nationwide, and globally. Your presentation really touch so many people’s heart; and I am sure those people were there learn a great deal from you and your presentation at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College lecture. You have long been a true and very special friend to the Hmong people.”
Mr. Yia Thao, speaking on behalf of Laotian and Hmong community leaders in the Green Bay, Wisconsin and Appleton area continued: “You have stood by us in good times and bad and helped us in countless ways. Your understanding and commitment have helped us realize that we are not alone in the United States. I know that you have spent many, many hours over many years working on behalf of the Hmong people. I know that you are an important person in any community and that you have used your reputation and contacts in the community or nationwide to help the Hmong people. We, the Hmong are very fortunate to have the support of a person of your stature and we truly appreciate what you have done for us over the years.”
“I was thrilled to be able to meet the Hmong American students in Green Bay at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and the fabulous 27 high school students recently arrived from Wat Tham Krabok in Thailand,” Dr. Jane Hamilton Merritt stated. “Also, it was most encouraging to find so many people interested in helping to try to resolve the humanitarian crises facing the Hmong refugees in Thailand and those in hiding in the Lao jungle.” http://www.tragicmountains.org
“Lao Hmong community leaders in Wisconsin and American public officials were honored to meet with Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt and to recognize her important book Tragic Mountains, which has helped to educate our community, fellow Americans and policy makers about the history and current plight of the Hmong and Lao people,” said Vaughn Vang, Executive Director of the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. in Green Bay and Appleton, Wisconsin. http://www.laohumanrightscouncil.org
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and other organizations have issued international appeals and statements regarding the crisis in Laos and Thailand facing Hmong refugees. The New York Times, the BBC, Al Jazeera and other independent news agencies have recently documented the horrific plight of the Hmong and Laotian people under attack in Laos. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1077350.html ---
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