Samak Blasted Over Laos Killings: Attacks on Hmong in Thailand, Laos
A coalition of Lao and Hmong organizations in Washington, D.C. have condemned the recent visit of Thai Premier Samak Sundaravej to Laos following increased Lao and Vietnamese military attacks on unarmed civilians; Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's apparent direct order to use Thai Third Army Commanders to deploy Thai Army attack dogs to bloody and forcibly repatriate Lao-Hmong refugees prior to his visit to Laos was also dennounced by the coalition in Washington, D.C. Increased religious persecution and the killings of Lao and Hmong Christians in Laos was also highlighted.
(Media-Newswire.com) - A coalition of Lao and Hmong organizations in Washington, D.C. have denounced the visit of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to Laos following his government's brutal forced repatriation of Lao-Hmong refugees and asylum seekers in recent days back to Laos as well as the Lao military’s new offensive against unarmed Lao and Hmong civilians and political opposition groups.
Samak’s visit appears timed to a renewed military offensive by Lao and Vietnamese military forces massing in key strategic regions of Laos. Samak’s trip occurs at a time when main ground force army units and special forces of the Lao People’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.
“In apparent preparation and coordination with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, LPDR government military and para-military security forces, including elite heliborne special operations forces, backed by rocket-equipped attack helicopters and heavy artillery, have 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; The Lao military has engaged in horrific crimes against humanity and is hunting and killing unarmed Laotian and Hmong political and religious dissident groups, including Christians, Buddhists and other religious believers, who are suspected of opposing the Lao regime, and who are hiding in the mountains and jungles; hundreds of unarmed Hmong Christians have been slaughtered or have simply disappeared in recent weeks, ” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. “Moreover, LPDR and PASV air and ground forces are continuing to use food as a brutal and lethal weapon and have starved to death hundreds of Lao and Hmong civilians in recent weeks as well as engaging in helicopter gunship attacks on unarmed villagers, summary executions, torture, large-scale atrocities and war crimes in their indiscriminate attacks and military sweeps,” 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.
On January 31, 2008, Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt was again invited by Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to testify in the U.S. Congress along with Amnesty International's Advocacy Director T. Kumar about the current crisis in Laos at a special session of the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos held in the Cannon House Office Building. Dr. Merritt 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 and has sought to raise awareness about the current ethnic cleansing campaign in Laos by the Lao regime's military forces.
"It is important to note that U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf and a bipartisan delegation of Members of Congress have written a detailed letter appealing to the King of Thailand about the killing and starvation of the Hmong in Laos and appealing to His Majesty to grant sanctuary to Hmong refugees in Thailand until they can be resettled in third countries," Dr. Hamilton-Merritt stated.
"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 unarmed Hmong groups in-hiding in Phoa Bia, Phou lang, and Pha Phai, Xiengkhouang province, Laos, including unarmed groups of dissident Evangelical Christian and Catholic Hmong believers, recently made the following appeal while his people were under heavy attack by LPDR and PASV military and para-military security forces:
“We are appealing to the United Nations, United Nations' 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.”
Mr. Nao Kong Vue continued his statement from inside Laos where his people are surrounded: “The 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. Currently, 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 Province, Vanveing.”
Lao and Hmong dissident Christians who have fled underground churches that now are under attack, as well as many animists, are being targeted for persecution and elimination, especially those suspected of affiliation with underground Catholic and Protestant churches not under the strict control of the LPDR security forces attached to the religious affairs ministry, which has been enhanced with additional Vietnamese advisors in recent months from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam ( SRV ).
According to a recent statement by Christian Freedom International, Christians have continued to suffer under mounting persecution in recent years, including the confiscation of homes, property and churches, the arrest and imprisonment of pastors, forced renunciation of the faith, and even the threat of execution. Hmong Christians have especially become targets for attack by the Laotian government, in a vicious genocidal campaign that has included forced starvation and the use of chemical weapons.http://christiannewswire.com/news/816865675.html
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.
‘The Lao regime, while ruthlessly pursuing unarmed Hmong villagers and civilians in the jungles and mountains 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. “We 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 regime,” Mr. Rathigna concluded.
“We urge the Lao military regime to abide by the appeals of Amnesty International and cease using food as a weapon against the Hmong people; We are calling of the LPDR regime to 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,” stated Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America.
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