Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan
Chapter 17: The Hmong Rebellion in Laos: Victims or Terrorists?
* Gary Yia Lee On 4 June 2005, a group of 171 people (20 Hmong and 9 Khmu families with 83 adults and 88 children) emerged from the forest and put themselves in the hands of a police oﬃcer in the Saisomboun Special Zone, north of Vientiane province, Laos. Their arrival had been well publicized as one of the few rebel groups that voluntarily surrendered. Oﬃcials of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) were soon on the scene, including four US citizens from the Fact Finding Commission on Laos (FFCL), a lobby group based in Oroville, California, USA. The US visitors were there to ensure that the group was given all the necessary help after its members had spent 30 years in the jungle refusing to be part of the Lao communist regime. The Americans were promptly arrested for ‘liaising illegally’ with the Hmong, but were released and deported a few days later after diplomatic pressure from the USA.1 The new arrivals were taken a few hours later by military trucks to Ban Chomthua in Phu Kout district, Xieng Khouang province, where they were allocated 50 hectares of farmland and other forms of aid. A team of oﬃcials is said to have welcomed them in ‘appreciation for their support to [sic] the government’s policy of alleviating poverty’.2 For the Lao authorities, these Hmong were no more than villagers on the move in search of new farming land. There was no question of resistance or rebellion. On the...
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