Archive for ‘Laos’

October 24, 2014

Vietnam Veterans of U.S. Secret Army in Laos Urge Congress to Act

Center for Public Policy Analysis

Vietnam Veterans of U.S. Secret Army in Laos Urge Congress to Act

Washington, October 24, 2014 03:45 PM

The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and Lao- and Hmong-American leaders are meeting with key members of the U.S. Congress, and Senate and House offices on Capitol Hill, urging the passage of legislation to grant burial honors, and benefits, to veterans who served in the U.S. Secret Army in Laos during the Vietnam War.

Meetings are being held with the offices of Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Carl Levin (D-Michigan), Bernard Sanders (I-Vermont), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Diane Feinstein (D-California), Barbara Boxer (D-California), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Al Franken (D-Minnesota), who support the bill, “The Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act” (S. 200; S. 2337). In the House, Lao- and Hmong-American leaders are slated to meet with Congressmen Jim Costa (D), Devin Nunes (R), Paul Cook (R), and Jeff Denham (R) of California, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and others.

“The Lao- and Hmong-American veterans and their families seek to educate policymakers and Congress about the unique and historic role of the veterans in covert support of the U.S. Special Forces, CIA, and clandestine U.S. Air Force units in Laos during the Vietnam War,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA. “It is important to honor these extraordinary veterans with burial honors.”

Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI) stated: “We are grateful for the support of over fifty members of Congress and appreciate their efforts to advance legislation to honor our veterans and their families with burial benefits.”

“The community in Anchorage, and across America, is requesting that the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Sanders and Vice Chairman Burr, and Senators Begich and Murkowski, continue to work to pass our veterans bill,” said Pasert Lee, President of the Hmong Alaska Community, Inc.

“We are talking to our Senators, and Congress, about the sacrifices of Hmong veterans in assisting the United States to secretly combat the North Vietnamese Army’s invasion of the Kingdom of Laos during critical years of the Vietnam War,” commented Richard Xiong, Vice President of the LVAI.

“It is important that President Obama and the White House also remember and support our Lao Hmong veterans and this bill,” concluded Erik Xiong, Secretary of the LVAI.

Contacts

Christy Her or Philip Smith

Center for Public Policy Analysis
Tele. (202)543-1444
October 18, 2014

Communist Vietnam’s Neo-Colonizing Policies Must Be Stopped to Prevent the Destabilization of Southeast Asia and the Continuing Human Rights Violations of the Indigenous Populations.

Sys-Con

Communist Vietnam’s Neo-Colonizing Policies Must Be Stopped to Prevent the Destabilization of Southeast Asia and the Continuing Human Rights Violations of the Indigenous Populations.

Communist Vietnam’s policies and practices were observed to be the major source of destabilization of Southeast Asia, if allowed to stay the current course.

By PR Newswire

October 17, 2014 10:21 AM EDT

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.sys-con.com/node/3213085

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A Southeast Asia Conference was recently held in Washington, D.C., featuring diverse, local and international, speakers from Hawaii, Thailand and France as well as Laotians, Khmers, Montagnards and Americans with related expertise and experiences from academic institutions, business communities, and Law firm and past US government involvements. There were also screenings of interviews with Mr. Sovan Pen, the very first Prime Minister of Cambodia during the Vietnamese occupation and former prisoner in Hanoi on the Vietnamese government true objectives on Cambodia, and Dr. Mong Hay Lao on geopolitics of Southeast Asia. Vietnam neo-colonization of Cambodia and Laos had been further explored by the audience’s questions & answers session and open discussions. The conference participants were very actively engaged in drawing up the conference 14-point Resolutions, of which an unsigned copy is as follows:

Resolutions of the Southeast Asia Conference 2014
Washington, DC October 4 & 5, 2014

This document contains the resolutions of the Southeast Asia Conference 2014, organized by the Khmer People Network for Cambodia (KPNC) and Laotian Human Rights Council (LHRC). The conference was held in Washington, DC on October 4th through 5th, 2014 entitled “Vietnam’s Destabilization of Southeast Asia and Tragic Human Rights Violations.” The conference working group presents these resolutions to the US government for implementation. This is the work of civil society from Cambodian and Laotian Americans concerned for the stabilization and security of the people of Southeast Asia.  As Americans, we are concerned for US self-interests in the area and present these recommendations to our government holding in all seriousness the best interests of our beloved country the United States of America.

These are presented to the Foreign Relations Committees of both the Senate and the House with the hope that along with the administration, you will incorporate them into US policy. We hope that our government will work with civil society to improve our relations with the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and to avoid more violence which has claimed the lives of Americans, Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese in the last 50 years.

The participants stand ready to dialog with our government and request that a commission be established to further that dialog and implement these resolutions. The resolutions will come alive as we work through this commission. Dialog is the way of Peace that replaces the current deafening silence. The dialog with civil society and implementation of its resolutions places the welfare of all the people involved in high esteem.

Resolutions presented to the US Government

We ask that the US government:

  1. For the sake of stability and security of the entire Southeast Asia region, put pressure on communist Vietnam to stop Crimea-like colonization of Laos and Cambodia. Urge the governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to terminate permanently the so-called “Special Lao-Vietnamese Friendship Treaty” of 1977 and to nullify the 2005 Supplementary Cambodia-Vietnam treaties.
  2. Deny communist Vietnam the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) membership until it makes dramatic improvements in its human rights practices, reforms its laws to meet international labor standards and demonstrates a clear commitment to the rule of law as per the July 29, 2014 letter to President Obama from 33 members of Congress.
  3. Call for the reconvening of the 1991 Paris Peace Conference on Cambodia and nullify all later agreements and treaties contrary to the spirit of the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991, especially those contrary to territorial integrity, national sovereignty, freedom from foreign interference, and the respect for human rights.
  4. Call for the reconvening of the 1973 Paris Peace Conference on Vietnam.
  5. Reinstate the arms embargo to Vietnam, until we can be assured that it is not being used for expansionist purposes and for the repression of civilians.
  6. Provide technical assistance to develop an independent and more accurate estimate of the numbers of Vietnamese immigrant population in Cambodia and Laos.
  7. Urge Vietnam to end the intrusion in Laos and Cambodia’s internal affairs.
  8. Place Cambodia and reinstate Vietnam as “countries of particular concern (CPC)” until they respect religious rights and human rights especially with regards to their indigenous people.
  9. Create a special commission on US policy and relations towards Cambodia and Laos.
  10. Call upon the US Government to treat and deal with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam individually, not to lump all three together as Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are distinct and independent states.
  11. The governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam must open space for civil society, release all political prisoners, and abide by the international human rights covenants to which they are signatories.
  12. Pressure the Cambodian and Laotian governments to allow their people the rights to freedom of speech, press, and assembly.
  13. Urge the US government to reinforce the US Lacey Act of 2008, prohibiting the importation of illegal wildlife and logging.
  14. Stress mutual respect of freedom, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity between Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

 

September 13, 2014

Women of Laos Clear Bomb Shells From the Vietnam War

telesur

Women of Laos Clear Bomb Shells From the Vietnam War

Published 12 September 2014

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Women-of-Laos-Clear-Bomb-Shells-From-the-Vietnam-War-20140912-0063.html

A Lao woman uproots rice seedlings in a paddy field. (Photo: Reuters)

A Lao woman uproots rice seedlings in a paddy field. (Photo: Reuters)

Women in Laos are now employed as bomb shell cleares. The job pays more than most, and requires one to work in highly unsafe conditions.

Women risk their lives to clear bomb shells in Laos and make up 40 percent of the bomb clearance teams in Xieng Khouang province.

The bomb shells they search for were dropped buy the U.S. during the Vietnam War. The U.S. had dropped 260 million cluster bombs on Laos. At the time the U.S. dropped 260 million bombs which gave the distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the world.

The bombs targeted Ho Chi Mihn trail, which was the supply route for communist forces. Laos, however was not officially involved in the war, but because it was the neighbor of Vietnam its people were killed in the process.

Phou Vongh is part of a female team whose mission is to find and destroy unexploded bombs. This job is very dangerous but Phou Vong says she needs the work to support her family. To collect bomb shells she ears $250 a month, more than the average wage in Laos.

Up to 20,000 people have been hurt by cluster bombs in Laos since the bombing stopped. Many have lost their hands and sight because of cluster bombs exploding.

“In Laos culture, particularly in the more remote communities where accidents tend to happen, it is sometimes considered bad luck and then that person is shunned a little bit by his or her family and by their village and community as well. So that is quite a profound impact on a person,” said Colette McInerney, an Australian aid worker.

In spite of 20 years of bomb hunting in Laos, a little more than one percent of the land has been cleared.

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September 11, 2014

Cambodians oppose Lao dam

Cambodians oppose Lao dam

  • Published: 11 Sep 2014 at 20.03
  • Writer: Kyodo News Service

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/most-recent/431752/cambodians-oppose-don-sahong-dam-in-laos

PHNOM PENH – Cambodians staged a protest Thursday to share the concerns of more than a quarter of a million people who are calling on Laos to suspend construction of the Don Sahong hydropower project on the Mekong River.

Cambodian activists hold placards and banners on a boat during the handover of petition signatures against the Don Sahong dam, in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (AFP photo)

At the protest Chhith Sam Ath, country director of the World Wide Fund for Nature, said Don Sahong Dam, a 260-megawatt hydropower project, could bring about the demise of important fisheries and critically endangered Mekong dolphins.

Chhith Sam Ath said around 85 dolphins are now restricted to a 190 kilometre stretch of the river between southern Laos and northeast Cambodia, with the dam project in southern Laos just 1 kilometre upstream of the dolphins’ core habitat.

In June, Laos announced its decision to have the Don Sahong project undergo a Mekong River Commission consultation process.

The process requires Laos to hold intergovernmental consultations before proceeding with the dam and conduct and share studies on the project’s environmental and social impact.

The process will take at least six months to complete.

The WWF said since May this year, 12,404 concerned Cambodians have added their names to a WWF public petition opposing the dam.

The local action, supported by members of the River Coalition in Cambodia under facilitation of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, was bolstered by a global online petition signed by 255,596 people representing more than 200 countries.

Chhith Sam Ath said, “more than a quarter of a million people around the world are sending a strong and clear message to Mega First. Stop Don Sahong Dam or risk the dubious ‘honor’ of precipitating the extinction of a species. Don Sahong Dam is a dangerous experiment and Mega First is gambling with the livelihoods of millions.”

Mega First is a Malaysian utility conglomerate.

The Stop Don Sahong event, organised by the WWF, included 25 community members from the Mekong and Tonle Sap, 50 youths from Phnom Penh, NGO representatives and Buddhist monks working on conservation awareness along the river.

As part of the event, boats travelled along the Mekong displaying banners calling on Mega First to respond to the huge public opposition to their project.

WWF said the dam builders intend to excavate millions of tonnes of rock using explosives, creating strong sound waves that could potentially kill dolphins who have highly sensitive hearing structures.

Increased boat traffic, changes in water quality and habitat degradation represent other risks.

It added that the dam will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migration, putting at risk the world’s most productive inland fisheries and the livelihoods of 60 million people living in the Lower Mekong Basin.

An Hou, chief of Community Fishery Network in the Sambor district of Kratie province in Cambodia, said, “Without fish and dolphins, our livelihoods will be destroyed.”

“We are helpless and we do not know what to do if the dam goes ahead. We ask Mega First’s executive chairman, Mr Goh (Nan Kioh), to stop the dam construction and rethink this project, and consider carefully the lives of millions of people who depend on the Mekong River,” he added.

The WWF called for an immediate halt to any further development of the Don Sahong project until the developers have addressed significant gaps identified in the project documents, such as the feasibility studies and the Environmental Impact Assessment.

Additionally, an independent and sound assessment of the Don Sahong project against more sustainable alternatives must be conducted.

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August 28, 2014

Bouncing down: The back roads of history (The Ho Chi Minh Trail)

Bouncing down: The back roads of history

Posted On Aug 25, 2014
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://theadvisorcambodia.com/2014/08/bouncing-back-roads-history/

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent rides the Ho Chi Minh Trail on a 1989 pink Honda cub

The Ho Chi Minh Trail, for those of you who’ve forgotten, was a transport network running from North Vietnam to South Vietnam, via Laos and Cambodia. Originally made up of primitive footpaths used for local trade, by the time of the Vietnam War the Trail was used to supply weapons, fuel and men in vast quantities to fight the Americans. According to the US government, the Trail was “one of the great achievements of military engineering of the 20th century”.

It also caused a great deal of trouble for both Laos and Cambodia: Laos was hit by an average of one B-52 bomb load every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973. US fighters dropped more bombs on Laos than were dropped by all sides during the whole of the Second World War. And in Cambodia, American bombing provided a huge impetus for the rise of the Khmer Rouge.
The scale of the Trail was breathtaking. Covering more than 2,000 kilometres, from Sihanoukville in the south and Hanoi in the north, through thick jungle and over the 2,500-metre Truong Son mountain range in Laos, much of it was hidden from the bombers by tied-together tree canopies and trellises. The Americans used increasingly sophisticated weaponry to try to disrupt the Trail, including dousing it with Agent Orange, but all to no avail.

Agent Orange, a viciously unpleasant herbicide and defoliant, was used to strip the ground of plant cover, so the North Vietnamese would have nowhere to hide. According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4.8 million people were exposed to the chemical, leaving 400,000 dead and 500,000 children born with birth defects. And reports suggest that at the end of the war, 80 million bombs had fallen on the three countries but not exploded, leaving an appalling and deadly legacy.

So, all in all, the Trail was a hugely important hinge for modern Southeast Asian history. It has been traversed before by modern travel writers, on foot and on motorbike: a guy called Chris Hunt rode the length of the Trail on a Russian-made Minsk 125cc in 1995. To top that, British-born Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent decided to make the journey on a bubblegum-pink 1989 Honda C-90 stepthru moped, because “doing it on a proper dirt bike seemed too easy”. She had to have the engine rebuilt four times during the trip, so she clearly found the difficulties she was looking for.

Pink vehicles seem to be something of a motif for Bolingbroke-Kent; previously she had driven a pink tuk tuk from Bangkok to Brighton. On the Trail, at a stately 20mph, she fords rivers, climbs mountains and braves the heat and dust and loneliness and potential tiger attacks, staying in grubby guesthouses, swatting insects and drinking warm Pepsi. If her writing is sometimes a little flat, her knowledge of the history of the Trail, as well as her views on unexploded ordnance and the effects now of the logging and deforestation along the way, are invaluable.
As economic progress turns the Ho Chi Minh Trail into well-paved routes for shipping wood abroad for garden furniture, the Trail itself is disappearing; this is a decent book on a fascinating subject.

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