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Hmong People Mourn Death of Royal Lao General Vang PaoTim King Salem-News.com
Vang Pao, former general, Hmong leader, and enemy of the Communist Pathet Lao, passed away at the age of 81.
(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 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.
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.
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':
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.
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