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Human Rights Issues In Communist Southeast Asia: Red Alert

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By John E. Carey
Quoc Te Co Van
February 25, 2007

There is something of a crisis in human rights abuses in Southeast Asia in general and in Communist Vietnam in particular.

According to David M. Kinchen, Editor, Huntington News Network, "hardliners in Vietnam's politburo in Hanoi are obsessed with punishing, oppressing and even eliminating peoples - such as the Khmer Krom, Montagnards and Hmong Lao, that aligned themselves more than 30 years ago with the United States during the Vietnam War."

The Communist Party of Indochina, founded by Ho Chi Minh, which is the only political entity in Vietnam, is the one organization most responsible for the killing fields of Cambodia, the repression of the boat people (escape from Vietnam has been a punishable crime since 1975), and the re-education camps set up to brainwash everyone from South Vietnam who participated in any way in the war against the Communists.

International human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and the Montagnard Foundation are issuing a "Red Alert" of sorts about the human rights abuses ongoing in Vietnam for three reasons: First, the Communist Party in Vietnam has stepped up its assault on ethnic minorities once loyal to the United States and, Second, the United States seems to be looking the other way, and Third, it is difficult to determine "ground truth" in these Communist countries because all the media is strictly controlled by the Communist state.

After thousand of Hmong Lao tribal peoples fled Vietnamese and Laotian military aggressions inside of the Communist country of Laos, the Communist Party of Indochina issued an order to eliminate the more than 10,000 of the ethnic minority Hmong Lao, descendants of former CIA soldiers, who remain in hiding in remote mountain areas in Laos.

Communist Vietnam is apparently using its soldiers to attack these indigenous peoples and killing thousands of Hmong Lao using extreme measures such as chemical weapons, bombs and rockets.

"We know that the Vietnamese are the higher rank military commanders inside of our country Laos, Hanoi is in charge of Laos - as in the case of Cambodia. Hanoi is giving the final orders - we saw them attacking us, we hear them speaking Vietnamese, it is no secret to us who is attacking us Hmong Lao" said Faitou Vue, a Hmong Lao refugee, and CIA veteran who fled Communist Laos' widening military aggressions to refuge in Thailand.

In Vietnam, the indigenous peoples such as the Montagnards and Khmer Krom, who also sided with the U.S. during the Vietnam War, endure severe oppression and human rights violations, with many of them escaping to neighboring Cambodia.

"But if we stay in Cambodia, the Vietnamese will get us any minute. Cambodia listens to Hanoi, so many of our people got killed or forcefully brought back to Vietnam. The Cambodian authorities do nothing to protect us," stated one of many hundreds of Khmer Krom refugees, an indigenous peoples from the Mekong Delta, who fled further than Cambodia, hiding as an illegal migrant in Thailand.

In December, a group of about 200 Hmong refugees escaped from the Communists along the Thai-Laos border and were assaulted by Thai authorities in an effort to drive them back into the Communist side of the border.

Some 22 ethnic Hmong refugees were sent to the Netherlands just two weeks ago as part of a program managed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.This occurred only about one month after President Bush and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Communists Vietnam. One director of refugee operations for the UNHCR told us, "Frankly, we are very disappointed in the response of the United States to the plight of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam and elsewhere."

These Hmong moved from Thailand to the Netherlands were among 153 migrants who have been held at a detention centre near the Thai-Laos border since December for illegally entering Thailand.

Also two weeks ago, inside of Vietnam - five Khmer Krom Buddhist temples, together with their Khmer Krom communities held a peaceful demonstration to request to Hanoi to be allowed to maintain their Buddhist religion, which they say was not granted.

"They abuse our people for so long, we are arrested for teaching our own language, or our history, and they always target our Buddhist monks, the heart and soul of our Khmer Krom people," said T. Thach, president of NGO Khmer Krom Federation.

"Our temples are the center of our communities. We are imprisoned and tortured when we listen to the radio from the outside word, or when we check the internet related to our concerns. Writing e-mails to the outside world is prohibited."

T. Thach continued: "If our Khmer Krom Buddhist monks teach the sacred Buddhist language Pali - they are ordered by Hanoi to include Communist doctrines, if not, they get disrobed and are not allowed to be monks anymore, and are imprisoned as traitors and enemies of Communism . This is not right: our religion has nothing to do with Communism, or any form of politics, it is our religion, and sacred to us. It is the teaching of peace and rightful conduct in life.

But we are not allowed to maintain our religion, we are not even allowed to maintain our Khmer Krom culture, way of life, actually, they want to Vietnamize us in a manner, that nothing would be left from us, as Khmer Krom peoples, or Montagnards peoples - and we object to that."

"One can always tell when a group of Montagnards escapes into Mondulkiri Province. Vietnamese army and police officials chase after them and cross the border as if they owned western Cambodia," said journalist The Co Van, from the Montagnard Foundation.

"The Cambodian provincial police are alerted, and the guesthouses in the capital of Sen Monorum quickly fill with Cambodian police and army officials from neighboring provinces," The Co Van added.

"What a tragedy that America has abandoned our former allies in the Vietnam War a second time. Now the U.S. has the leverage to force the Vietnamese government to treat the Montagnards better but it remains silent when Hanoi glosses over their draconian human rights record in their bid for entrance into the WTO."

The Montagnard Foundation reports that they hold evidence that bounty hunters capture the Montagnard refugees in Cambodia, and sell them back to the Vietnamese for $20 to $100.

Twenty dollars is a month's pay for a policeman in this part of the world.

"Why does the mainstream media ignore the plight of the Montagnards, the Khmer Krom, and their cousins, the Hmong in Laos for over 30 years, and still continue to do so?" asked Chue Chou Tchang, from the Special Guerrilla Units (SGU) Veterans. SGU Veterans is a U.S.- based Hmong human rights organization organization.

"One has to wonder why the Vietnamese Communist Party is so paranoid and ruthless in their treatment of a few Montagnards and Khmer Krom - escaping their clutches in the middle of the night," said Van.

"Why Laos, under the advice of Hanoi pressures Thailand to force thousands of Hmong Lao refugees back to Laos? That's because they know they can get away with it and that the mainstream media in the West really isn't interested in the human rights abuses of Communist police states" said Van.

EDITOR's NOTE: The South Vietnamese called American military advisors "Co Van" during the war in Vietnam. But the word translates more exactly as "consultant." Mr. Carey is former president of International ("Quoc Te") Defense Consultants Inc., a company of Co Van thast has operated since 1997.

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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