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Mortars Slam Jungle Enclaves in Laos Killing, Wounding 6 Hmong

ICC Note:

In Laos, six Lao Hmong women and children were wounded or killed by army artillery and mortar attacks directed against Christian and other religious minorities

11/9/09 Laos (OnlinePRNews)–Six Hmong women and children were wounded or killed by army artillery and mortar attacks directed against Lao Hmong civilians hiding from government forces in remote mountain and jungle areas of Laos. The military attacks in Laos come at a time when the Lao government is engaged in a brutal effort with its secret police and armed forces to try and contain massive anti-government opposition in Vientiane and other cities and towns in Laos where there are ongoing efforts to organize demonstrations to the one-party, authoritarian rule.

“Sadly, more and more innocent Lao and Hmong people are being starved to death and denied food and water as the Lao military seeks to surround them; The people do not even have time to bury the many Lao and Hmong dead that the Lao government continues to kill,” said Mr. Vaughn Vang of the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council (LHHRC) in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USIRF) has placed Laos on its watch list for religious persecution of believers including Laotian and Hmong Protestant and Catholic believers. Religious persecution has increased in Laos in recent months where Lao and Hmong dissident religious believers, including independent Buddhists, Protestant, Catholic and Animist groups, have come under attack by increasing numbers of Vietnamese military and security forces that have intervened in support of the Lao Peoples Army and Lao government to suppress internal religious and political dissent. Vietnamese military-owned companies are also now engaged in widespread illegal logging and other activities in much of Laos.

“Most sadly, now as we speak, the Lao military is using heavy machine guns, mortars and artillery to ambush, surround, attack and kill remaining groups of Lao Hmong civilians and Christian and Animist believers who only wish to live in peace and freedom,” said Vaughn Vang of the LHHRC.

“The Lao army seeks to trap and starve these people to death if these Lao and Hmong groups will not surrender, but these innocent Lao and Hmong people continue to seek to live independently from the government’s control because of the religious and political beliefs and their desire to be free people,” Vang said.

The Lao Peoples Army (LPA) military attacks occurred at the Phou Bia Mountain area of Xieng Khouang Province and were part on a campaign to seek to eliminate Lao and Hmong groups in the area who live independent of the Lao government. Laos, also known as the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR), is ruled by communist military regime.

Mr. Vaughn Vang further explained: “The LPA military attacks at one of the Lao Hmong civilians groups has come from three angles seeking to trap and kill the Hmong there; in recent weeks hundreds have been seriously wounded and are without medical care and food. The Lao Army is using 82 millimeter weapons as well as other mortars and artillery to bombard the jungle and mountain areas where the Laotian and Hmong are now hiding at Phou Bia Mountain in Xieng Khouang Province. The Lao government is even using a communist Hmong commander to help lead the attack against his own people, Commander Vue Lo, who is engage in war crimes against his own Lao Hmong people and is helping to murder and kill his own people on behalf of the Lao communist regime.”

“Yesterday and today, Laotian and Hmong groups in-hiding are continuing to report that the Lao Army is launching heavy infantry and artillery attacks, ambushing and surround these groups in-hiding using mortars, heavy artillery, infantry, and small commando unit attacks. Now, more than 118 Hmong women and children in-hiding in Phou Bia mountain area alone are known casualties of the recent attacks that have occurred over the last three to four weeks,” continued Mr. Vang from the LHHRC offices in Green Bay Wisconsin.

“Ironically, now, with the right hand the LPDR government in Laos welcomes the world to the SEA Games in Vientiane,” commented Mr. Vaughn Vang.

“But, unfortunately, with the other hand the Lao Peoples Army and LPDR regime are engaged in a massive campaign in Laos to arrest, starve, kill and persecute the Lao and Hmong people who only want peace and freedom. Now the Lao military has again launched new attacks against innocent civilians in the provinces of Xieng Khouang, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Khammoune and elsewhere resulting in many innocent Lao and Hmong civilians and religious believers, including Christians, to be injured or killed,” Mr. Vang concluded.

“In the mountainous areas Xieng Khouang Province in Laos, a three pronged military offensive has been launched by the LPA in recent days to seek to wipe out, or starve to death, remaining Lao and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissident groups as well as ordinary Laotians who simply wish to live in peace and freedom independent of government control,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C.

Thousands of Lao and Hmong political refugees are facing forced repatriation by the Thai military from Ban Huay Nam Khao refugee camp and Nong Khai Detention center in Thailand. MSF and other humanitarian organizations have protested the forced repatriation of the Lao Hmong refugees back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled.

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