RE: PLEASE TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO STOP THE GENOCIDE AGAINST THE HMONG IN LAOS
Please take urgent and immediate action to stop the Laos Government from committing further genocide against the Hmong. The Hmong are an ethnic minority in Laos who are forced to live in constant fear, with thousands hiding in the jungles of Laos in fear of persecution, they are being hunted like dogs. Foreign journalists and international organisations have repeatedly voiced their concerns for the shocking atrocities that are being committed against the Hmong-in-hiding in the jungles of Laos after having observed and collected evidence of ground and air military attacks, chemical attacks, torture, enslavement, rape, murder, and starvation and illness through the deprivation of food, water, medical care and humanitarian assistance. The Hmong hiding in the jungle are innocent men, women and children, even babies, are being attacked and murdered by surrounding Lao and Vietnamese soldiers. They are isolated and suffering every day - many are dying as a result of military attacks, torture by ground troops, and from starvation and illness - all part of a brutal military campaign by the Laos Government to kill the Hmong who remained in the country and hid in the mountainous areas to escape persecution after the illigitimate communist takeover in 1975. Many groups have come out of the jungle and surrended - however their whereabouts are unknown and it is likely they have been imprisoned or murdered. The fate of many of the throusands of Hmong refugees forcibly repatriated to Laos from Thailand is also unknown. Even those refugees that were granted UNHCR status, including children, have disappeared after returning to Laos.
It is clear that the Laos Government is committing genocide against the Hmong hiding in the jungles of Laos, and has been doing so for over 30 years. Documented evidence including video footage of the secret genocide in Laos can be found by using the following links:
Fact Finding Commission - Video Footage:
http://www.factfinding.org/main.html Sommer Films - Video Footage:
http://www.sommerfilms.org/documentaries/Hmong/index.php Report by Rebecca Sommer, Representative of the Society for Threatened Peoples International, in consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC:
http://www.sommerfilms.org/report/REPORT-Hmong-Rebecca_Sommer.pdf Journeyman Pictures - Video Footage:
http://www.journeyman.tv/9333/short-films/closed-to-prying-eyes.html Al Jazeera Correspondent's Report - Video Footage:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2008/03/2008525173612374361.html Amnesty International Report: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA26/003/2007/en/cd2f2180-d3a7-11dd-a329-2f46302a8cc6/asa260032007en.pdf Hmong Veterans of the Secret War by Philip Blenkinsop - Images:
http://www.noorimages.com/index.php?id=2338 Still A Secret War - Images:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdwfMStlmXI&feature=player_embedded Press Release by Congress of World Hmong People: http://eworldwire.com/pressreleases/211924 Letter from U.S. Senators:
http://presszoom.com/story_143311.html The Times News Article:
http://altair.chonnam.ac.kr/~gshin/gic/May%202008.pdf The Hmong were recruited in Laos by the CIA during the Vietnam War to help defeat the communist forces efforts in greater Indochina, and is often referred to as America's ''Secret War.'' The Hmong made great sacrifices helping the U.S., many of them losing their lives. They rescued shot-down U.S. pilots and disrupted the Ho Chi Minh Trail used to supply the communist forces of North Vietnam. When the Vietnam War ended in 1975 and U.S. troops withdrew after victory by the North Vietnamese Army, their allies in Laos, the communist Pathet Lao took over the country, in violation of the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Indochina and the 1962 Geneva Accords. This marked the start of a brutal military campaign against the Lao Hmong. The new communist regime sought retribution against the Hmong for their role in the Secret War and their allegence to the U.S. and the West. The Hmong were abandoned by their allies enabling the Laos Government to target them - and ever since then they been victims of appalling atrocities. In fear of being killed, large numbers fled the country to neighbouring Thailand. Those who remained in the country incuding women and children are being persecuted by the communist regime, and as decades pass the descendents of the Hmong men who fought in the war, are paying the price for their fathers and grandfathers actions.
Although video evidence of genocide has been shown to the United Nations, no serious and conctete action has been taken to save the remaining Hmong-in-hiding. Despite the illigitimate takeover of the country in 1975, despite evidence of over 30 years of genocide against the Hmong and appalling human rights abuses around the country, as well as pleas from people around the world, and dwindling time for the surviving Hmong-in-hiding - over 40 countries including the United States and Australia, continue to have diplomatic and bilateral relations with the Laos Government. Governments and international institutions each provide support and millions of dollars to the Laos Government through aid, trade and investment. None of these Governments or the United Nations hold the Laos Government to account for their actions against the Hmong, their failure to uphold human rights and to provide for their desperately impoverished population. In fact, counterproductively, the United Nations justifies their inaction on the genocide and total disregard of their manadate by falsely branding these Hmong as ''insurgents.'' The Laos Government themselves, who of course blatently deny the genocide, decide to brand the Hmong-in-hiding simply as ''bandits.'' The truth however is found in the evidence, including the many witness accounts of the appalling atrocities committed against innocent Hmong civilians. Laos is a single-party communist state, and similar to Burma in many ways, the regime's leaders continue to suppress and imprison any opposition, allowing them to have complete dominance and control of all matters in the country. Despite being signatory to a number of U.N. Treaties including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as providing safeguards for social and political rights in its own Constitution - the regime's continued violation of these obligations and terrible human rights record means these international human rights agreements are worthless. Due to the repressive and secretive nature of the regime, human rights monitors are banned from having unrestricted access to the population, and especially to special military zones. Therefore the reports that do come out in the media are very limited, and do not shed a light on the many horrendous human rights abuses that occur in Laos, that for obvious reasons, the Laos Government do not want the international community to know about. Most surviving victims of these abuses are powerless and therefore voiceless, and are not able nor free to tell the world about what they have endured. In response to the genocide being committed against the Hmong I urge the United Nations to use their diplomatic relations with the Laos Government as leverage encouraging them to uphold basic human rights and agree to the following: 1) Immediately ceasing attacks on the Lao Hmong by all military forces in Laos.
2) Ensure that UN officials have unrestricted access to all areas and to Lao Hmong at all times and to not renege on this agreement.
3) An internationally guaranteed safe passage for the Hmong out of the jungle with foreign observers at all times.
4) A safe zone, either within or outside the country, with 24 hour protection provided by UN and other international observers.
6) The freedom to speak to international officials and accept aid from international humanitarian orgainzations.
Until these provisions are met by Lao officials we are calling on world leaders and the United Nations to take the necessary measures to carry out their responsibility to protect the remaining Hmong in Laos from genocide and crimes against humanity, to uphold international law and ensure basic human rights, freedom and dignity. To ensure the Lao officials agree to stop their military attacks on Lao Hmong, guaranteeing their safety, freedom, rights and survival, we ask that international organizations such as the United Nations and world leaders take the following actions:
1) Enforce sanctions against the Government of Laos including targeted financial sanctions, travel restrictions, restrictions on public-provided financial assistance for trade or investment, embargoes on the supply of all military goods, suspension of non-humanitarian development assistance and suspension of Government-to-Government links.
Sanctions, as defined by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, are used to encourage ''regimes to desist in the repression of human rights and democratic freedoms.'' Given the substantial and definitive evidence of terrible human rights abuses carried out by military forces, primarily in the former Saisomboun Special Zone of Laos against Hmong men, women and children, amounting to genocide and crimes against humanity, it is clear that these actions warrant punitive measures such as sanctions.
2) Acknowledging the ongoing needs and impoverishment of the majority of the Lao population, please consider distributing necessary humanitarian aid, such as food and medicine, via trusted and effective international non-government organizations working in Laos instead of providing funding and support to the Laos Government.
3) Immediately begin talks and negotiations with the Government of Laos with the intention of reaching an agreement that ensures the safety, basic rights and freedom for all Lao Hmong including those repatriated and a guarantee of the six provisions outlined above in regard to the Hmong-in-hiding.
Thank you for taking the time attending to this very urgent matter. Please take action before it is too late.