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UN-Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva (31/7 - 4/8)

Chemical weapons against the Hmong: "They hunt us like animals" - Report and documentary about the genocide committed by military forces in Laos

Bolzano/Bozen, Göttingen, Geneva, 2. August 2006

Hmong WomenA shocking report about the crimes committed by Laotian and Vietnamese military forces against the Hmong, an ethnic minority in Laos, was presented by the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) during the UN-Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) in Geneva. Beyond this, the GfbV Representative for Indigenous Peoples at the UN in New York, Rebecca Sommer, showed for the first time her work-in-progress documentary, with alarming testimonies made by Hmong refugees who recently fled the conflict zone to Thailand, and film footage which was recently smuggled out from Laos. The side event takes place on Thursday, 3rd August 2006, at the Palais des Nations at Geneva, starting at 1 p.m., in Room 23.

According to Rebecca Sommer's Report on the situation of the Hmong, which was submitted to the UN, and her documentary, thousands of Vietnamese and Laotian soldiers are using the Hmong groups-in-hiding for their military training purposes, in the Xaysomboun Special Zone closed to foreigners and the UN. Usually, these half starved groups, mainly consisting of women and children are first localized by fighter aircrafts and helicopters, and then bombarded with chemical weapons, bombs and grenades. Then, ground troops follow and attack the fugitives. When captured, they are tortured, mutilated, women and girls are gang-raped. No one survives, every Hmong hiding in the remote jungle areas of Laos is killed without mercy.

Even children cannot escape those cruelties: Babies are slashed against trees, and Vietnamese soldiers are known to slit children's bellies, so that their intestines are hanging out, until they painfully and slowly die, while their parents desperately try to place back the innards. One of the latest reported massacres took place on the 6th April 2006 near the town of Vang Vieng. Approximately 26 Hmong women and children, twelve of them were less than 10 years old, have been killed by soldiers.

Despite the atrocities, 26 Hmong refugee children were send back from Thailand to Laos in December 2005. 20 girls in this group were between twelve and sixteen years old. To this day, despite the pressure by the International community, the desperate parents residing in Thailand's refugee camp have not received their children back. It is uncertain, what became of the minors, but persistent rumors are, that the girls and boy's are held in military prisons, that two of the boy's and one adult were beaten to death, and that the girls are abused as sex slaves. Since 1960 the Hmong were systematically recruited by the US intelligence service CIA in order to fight against the spread of communism during the Vietnam conflict. Approximately 40,000 Hmong were serving the US. After the US pulled out of South east Asia, the Pathet Lao gained control over the Laotian Kingdom, and eventually proclaimed the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 1975. Up to 300,000 Hmong escaped. Nowadays, hundred thousands of them live in exile in the US, Australia, France and elsewhere.

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