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Jan-08-2011 04:37printcomments

Hmong People Mourn Death of Royal Lao General Vang Pao

Vang Pao, former general, Hmong leader, and enemy of the Communist Pathet Lao, passed away at the age of 81.

 Royal Lao General Vang Pao
Royal Lao General Vang Pao Photos: Agence France-Presse, bluekey.co.tv, bangkokpost.com

(FRESNO, Calif.) - Vang Pao, former Royal Laos general; noted Hmong leader and military leader, passed away in Fresno, California late Thursday. He had been hospitalized for the ten days before his death in Clovis, California. Vang Pao was born in the Xiangkhouang Province of Laos, which was French Indochina when Gen. Pao was born in 1929.

Vang Pao, Royal Laos general

Vang Pao worked with Allied forces during World War Two, as did the eventual leader of Communist North Vietnam Ho Chi Minh also did, fighting the Japanese. However when the US funded the return of French Colonialism to Vietnam in the late 1940's, the two military leaders would be on distinctly different sides, as Vang Pao fought against the Communists, on behalf of the French forces.

It was Vang Pao who led a CIA-sponsored clandestine war for a decade and a half as the American war in Vietnam raged. However, as it had been in the case of the French, Pao was on a side that was defeated.

"In the 1960’s, the CIA started to recruit the Hmong to help the US fight in Vietnam as well as the “secret war” in Laos. The main reason in my opinion and documented by several historians – their familiarity with the terrain, especially when it came time to block the NVA from heading south via the Ho Chi Minh Trail."

As The BBC relates in their article, when the Vietnam War was lost, the General was forced to lead tens of thousands of his people into exile. Even worse, as our writer stated, there was a heavy death toll for the US cause. Vang Pao was a dedicated leader but his forces were opposed by an equally dedicated enemy.

"Between 1962 – 1975, about 12,000 Hmong died fighting against the Pathet Lao. Following the US withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, the Lao kingdom was overthrown by the communists and the Hmong became targets – literally. This began the mass exodus of the Hmong from Laos to Thailand – those who were successful, wound up in UN refugee camps."

Forced Return of Hmong

We reported in April of this year, that the Lao People's Democratic Republic PDR does not recognize the rights of others. It discriminates against the Chao Fa Hmong people and their cultural, social, and religious rights. The Regiment of Luang Phrabang, Mr. Kham Onh Chittamee, declared on May 20, 2005, to wipe out all Chao Fa Hmong and their offspring immediately or before the year 2020, and no one shall be alive there after the year 2020.

In our report, we included a translated Lao government document that was a shocking revelation:

I, Mr. Kham Onh Chittamee of the coordinating Regiment of Luang Phrabang, decree to all parties - including all troops of soldiers in the Province of Luang Phrabang - that we must unify strongly against our enemy since the government plan commanded that between 2005-2015 to eradicate all right-wing American Vang Pao who have been residually camouflaging in the Lao jungles. These people must be terminated prior to 2015-2020 from Laos.

The American C.I.A. Hmong, together with their offspring forgotten by the Americans, shall be wiped out immediately. After 2020, not one of them will be alive nor will the they fight a secret war. Therefore, I command all of our parties in Luang Phrabang province to carry out this order from now.

Both Laos and Vietnam are believed to be in violation of the mercenary statutes of the U.N. conventions, and the Vietnam Paris Peace Accord 1973, Chapter VII Article 20.

The Laos government had little to offer in regard to this man's death. "He was an ordinary person, so we do not have any reaction," The AFP quoted a government spokesman saying.

It is noteworthy that in his later years, Gen Pao would be accused of leading rebellions and conducting subversive activity against the PDR of Laos. In fact, just four years ago, as The BBC reports, he and 8 others were charged with plotting to use AK-47 rifles, missiles and mercenaries to overthrow the Lao government. Charges against him would later be dropped.

A Matter of Loyalty

The nation of his heritage showed a dismissive lack of respect, but that is not the case with the Hmong people.

Heroin Trade Connections

"If we cannot destroy the drug menace, then it will destroy us. I am not prepared to accept this alternative," intoned President Nixon in June of 1971. That same year, 8 kilos of General Ouane Rattikone's Double U-O Globe Laotian heroin was seized by Customs in New Jersey from the U.S. military postal system. A Filipino diplomat was arrested with 15 kilos of Double U-O Globe heroin. Another with forty kilos. The son of Panama's ambassador to Taiwan was arrested with fifty kilos. And a Laotian prince, the Royal Laotian ambassador to France, was arrested with sixty kilos of Double U-O Globe heroin he had attempted to bring into Paris under his diplomatic pouch. These were all anticommunist allies financed by Richard Nixon.

The Laotian prince, Sopsaisana, was the head of the Asian Peoples Anti-Communist League, the chief political advisor of Vang Pao, military commander of the CIA's Laotian Hmong army.

The consignment made its way from Vang Pao in Long Tieng to Sopsaisana in Vientiane via General Secord's Air America.

Vang Pao points out a target; many say he was in the
heroin trade and "The French Connection".

That, apparently, was an alternative Richard Nixon was willing to accept.

The "French Connection" was convenient not only as Nixon snow, but as security to France's pro-American President Georges Pompidou, who needed to break the independent power of France's far-right secret services. These were led by the SDECE, the Service de Documentation Extérieure et du Contre-Espionage. Its streetfighting arm was SAC, the Service d'Action Civique. The Deuxieme Bureau, the Second Bureau, is the military intelligence branch of the French Expeditionary Corps.

Sadly, Laos General Vang Pao is only one of many national and military leaders who have been beckoned, bribed and lured into helping American interests only to in the end, see his people get the big shaft. The loyalty of the Hmong was ultimately not recognized, the same certainly holds true for the Kurds who rose up against Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War, only to be abandoned by US forces.

One recent development in all of this, is the decision of US officials to look the other way as Hmong refugees were booted from safe ground, back to the country where they would likely be executed, by a public decree no less.

Chuck Palazzo recalled in one of his articles, how a downed American pilot he knew in the war only survived the experience because of the Hmong.

"He survived the crash – and was protected from the VC as well as the NVA because of the loyalty and devotion of the Hmong to him and to the US. They literally hid him, fed him, protected him, and helped him find his way back to an allied controlled area where he ultimately met up with his unit and safety with US Ground Troops."

These are the people who served under General Vang Pao. In Vietnam the Montagnards filled this wartime role also. They both remind me of the Hazara people of Afghanistan; heavy recipients of discrimination for their Asian features and nomadic heritage; but fiercely loyal and trustworthy for Americans on the ground.

The Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and People's Republic of China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west.. According to Wikipedia, as of 2009, the country's population was estimated at 6.3 million.

Vang Pao will be laid to rest in Fresno, California and thousands are expected to attend the service. His friend Charlie Waters told AFP, "He'll be remembered as a great general, a great warrior, a great Hmong soldier."

The BBC Wrote of Vang Pao, that he was the 'Last of his kind':

Gen Pao was a controversial figure, deeply loved by many Hmong - an ethnic minority in Lao that complains of persecution - for his insistence on freedom from foreign domination.

Former Central Intelligence Agency chief William Colby once called Gen Pao "the biggest hero of the Vietnam War".

But critics say that by allying himself with the US, Gen Pao caused his people untold suffering - something that he himself recognised.

"I lost 17,000 men, almost 10% of the total Hmong population. The Hmong sacrificed the most in the war and were the ones who suffered the most," he said at the Heritage Foundation think tank in 1987.

Americans who first came into contact with him found a man skilled in warfare and with the charisma necessary to sustain a dangerous, 15-year operation in support of the US against the North Vietnamese.

The CIA airline, Air America, carried Gen Pao and his fighters across the country.

The BBC recounts stories of Gen. Pao and his men disrupting the supply routes used by the Vietnamese and also waging battles to hasten the Vietnamese-backed communist victory in Laos.

"He's the last of his kind, the last of the leadership that carries that reference that everyone holds dear," said Blong Xiong, a Fresno city councilman and prominent Hmong-American. "Whether they're young or old, they hear his name, there's the respect that goes with it," he added.

To date, the Lao PDR government continues to violate U.N. Charters, Conventions, and its Protocols, and the government ignores international interventions and visitations. The Lao PDR is responsible for committing mass crimes against humanity.

Over 250,000 people, civilians and innocent Hmong Indigenous and their children - are believed to have lost their lives since 1975 as a result of Lao military clashes in the Hmong Indigenous territories.

It is no wonder that this man, Vang Pao, tried to lead his people to a better brighter day. California's Central Valley, Minneapolis and cities throughout Wisconsin have a Hmong presence today estimated to be between 30,000-40,0000.

Apr-28-2010: Lao PDR Government and Hmong Chaofa Indigenous Resistance Clash in Xaysombun - Salem-News.com

Jan-07-3022: Laos general and Hmong leader Vang Pao dies in exile - The BBC

Jan-28-2010: The US Abandonment of the Hmong - Chuck Palazzo Salem-News.com

Feb-27-2010: The US Abandonment of the Hmong Continues - Chuck Palazzo Salem-News.com

Aug-01-2010: Great American Heroes: Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden - Tim King Salem-News.com

Jul-18-2008: Afghanistan is a Land of Diverse Cultures and Severe Prejudice - Tim King Salem-News.com

Vang Pao - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Laos From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hmong people - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

___________________________

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 65 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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CKV February 5, 2011 11:20 pm (Pacific time)

I have to say that this man is the only Hmong man I will ever see and hear that deserve HONOR. RIP. Although, I don't know you. I have to admit you did a great job trying to save your people. God Bless!!


Agatha January 17, 2011 6:14 pm (Pacific time)

I do not understand why so many Hmong are against General Vang Pao. I mean he did the best to help his people. Problem is, his people were not cooperating and that is the problem with the Hmong people. To be honest, Hmong people who have no respect or should I say "appreciation" towards their Hmong leaders, needs to start appreciating more. This is why we do not have a country in the first place! RIP General Vang Pao and in your next lifetime, you wil become a leader that will change your people. That way they can respect you better.


lee vang January 16, 2011 8:29 pm (Pacific time)

Finally that thug is dead


Nancy January 11, 2011 7:19 pm (Pacific time)

What a great article so far! I didn't grow up in the era that the General was born in but my grandparents and parents did. I saw GVP's life through my parent's eyes and this stories. I'd say Bill made a great point that the US murdered GVP and I can't agree more. Just days after GVP's death, they decided to drop the indicment case that crushed his spirit and his love for this great country. He sacrificed so many of our Hmong people's lives to save fallen American soldiers in the war and this is how he is repaid. Being able to buried at Arlington is the least this country can do to this man of great dignity and dedication to his people. As a second generation Hmong in this country, I can only hope that this spirit is at peace and that he leaves knowing the Hmong will never forget his sacrifices for us and his legacy will always be rememebered for generations to come.


Yang January 8, 2011 12:54 pm (Pacific time)

I don't know this guy all that well but he seems to have led a life of many hardships and I hope for him to be at peace


Bill January 8, 2011 10:35 am (Pacific time)

The Death of General Vang Pao The media reported Thursday that General Vang Pao, considered the George Washington of the Hmong hill tribe, died of pneumonia after several days in the hospital in Clovis, Calif. The General is dead, but the rest is a lie. The real truth is the United States Government murdered General Vang Pao. It wasn’t a typical murder. It was a slow, calculated death that began three and a half years ago on June 4, 2007. Before dawn that day, federal agents crashed through the doors of his Westminster, Calif. home and arrested him for conspiring to overthrow the Government of Laos. The Department of Justice even called the operation “Tarnished Eagle” to embarrass, disgrace, and dishonor the General - a man who fought for America in its “secret war” in Laos for 15 years. Nine others were arrested that morning in California and also faced charges that were punishable by two life sentences in federal prison. The trumped up charges against Vang Pao were all dropped September 18, 2009, but not before he suffered 39 days in jail, 837 days under house arrest with an ankle bracelet, and two years, three months and 14 days as an accused man facing two life sentences. This is the same General Vang Pao that former CIA Chief William Colby once referred to as "the biggest hero of the Vietnam War" because of the 15 years he spent leading a CIA-sponsored guerrilla army fighting against a communist takeover over of the Southeast Asian peninsula. General Vang Pao did not die of pneumonia…he died of a broken heart. Retired Army Colonel (Active, NG, USAR) - 2 years in Vietnam


bluebird January 8, 2011 6:08 am (Pacific time)

this is the best article out on the net, im recommending it to everyone, very well written.

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