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9 Arrested In California For Plot Against Laos Government

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The Laos plot thickens

Sacramento, California

US investigators now believe that an alleged plot to overthrow the Laos government by arms may have involved a former Wisconsin state senator and even a US congressman, but Hmong icon Vang Pao denied there was any such plan.

Many Hmong refugees wonder why they even left Thailand.

Vang Pao's lawyer said the general was innocent of all charges after his client's brief appearance in federal court in Sacramento on Tuesday.

"General Vang Pao has worked actively to pursue peaceful solutions to the problems in Laos and has disavowed violence," attorney John Balazs told reporters outside the courthouse.

Reports from the US said that at a community center in Fresno, dozens of Hmong immigrants who attended a Monday night English lesson fell silent as they absorbed the news. Several later said they felt sick and questioned why they had left their Thai refugee camp for California, if their leader, General Vang Pao, was in jail.

"I love my general. He is like my uncle," said a tearful Neng Vang, who regularly attends the nighttime language classes.

In contemporary Laos, Hmong people are still subject to detentions and human rights violations, according to the State Department.

Many recent immigrants arrive in the US still traumatised by war and decades of persecution, only to find that they are blocked from obtaining asylum or green cards under provisions of the USA Patriot Act, said Sharon Stanley, director of Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries.

The Associated Press reported that the unnamed US congressman, as well as the California Highway Patrol known as CHP, apparently were unwitting parties that Hmong conspirators hoped to use to further their plans, according to court documents and interviews Tuesday with investigators on the case, AP reported.

A sworn affidavit from an undercover agent states that "probable cause exists to believe" that former Wisconsin state Senator Gary George was among those involved in the conspiracy.

"There is going to be a wealth of information we're going to be following up on," said Nina S. Delgadillo, a special agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "There may be other defendants - that's a strong possibility."

George has not been arrested or charged. Lo Cha Thao, 34, of Clovis, who once worked as an aide to the senator, was one of 10 people charged Monday in federal court in Sacramento.

The AP reports that George's attorney, Alex Flynn of Milwaukee, said the evidence in the indictment does not implicate his client.

"Gary George denies any allegations as defamatory and has as much interest in seeing the government of Laos overthrown as he does in the Klingons taking over the Starship Enterprise," Flynn told The Associated Press late Tuesday. "These allegations are preposterous."

George, 53, recently completed a four-year federal prison sentence for accepting kickbacks from a Milwaukee social service agency.

On Monday, federal prosecutors followed a six-month investigation by charging 10 people, including former Laotian military general Vang Pao and a former officer in the California National Guard.

Investigators said they may charge others as the investigation continues and they examine material seized from 14 locations across California, the AP says.

"We will go wherever the evidence takes us," First Assistant US Attorney Larry Brown said Tuesday outside a federal court hearing for four of the defendants.

He would not specifically say whether authorities were investigating the congressman, George or others referred to in the federal court documents.

Among those arrested Monday was Vang Pao, 77, a former general in the Royal Army of Laos who led Hmong counterinsurgents before he fled to the United States with thousands of other Hmong refugees after the Vietnam War.

Also charged were eight other members of the California Hmong community and a former California National Guard officer, Harrison Jack.

The 10 face charges that include violating the federal Neutrality Act by plotting the violent overthrow of Laos' communist government. A federal complaint alleges the men were raising money to recruit a mercenary force and buy $9.8 million worth of automatic weapons, grenades, rockets and shoulder-fired missiles.

The alleged plot unraveled because the arms dealer who was to supply the weapons and mercenaries was actually an undercover federal agent.

Investigators would not say how they believe George, the former Wisconsin senator, was involved in the plot. But Mark Reichel, the attorney appointed to represent Lo Cha Thao, said his client worked for George and two other Wisconsin state senators before returning to California about two years ago.

His client was recruited by the lawmakers after distinguishing himself with his work from 1994-1999 in a youth gang and drug prevention program run by the California National Guard, Reichel said.

Reichel said his client is innocent but said he and the others might have been trying to act to prevent persecution of Hmong who remain in Laos.

"The Hmong are being horribly slaughtered in Laos, and these individuals are aware of it," Reichel said.

The criminal complaint also refers to the alleged conspirators trying to get help from a US congressman, who is not named.

On April 12, federal investigators recorded a telephone call between Lo Cha Thao and Jack, a Vietnam veteran and retired lieutenant colonel in the California National Guard. They were discussing a conference call between national Hmong leaders and a congressman, according to court documents.

"Thao said that his group had been consulting with a United States congressman and had received advice concerning ‘under table strategies' from military personnel like Harrison Jack and an unnamed ‘CIA guy,'" according to the federal affidavit.

During a March 5 meeting at a Sacramento restaurant, Jack told the undercover ATF agent posing as an arms dealer that he had contacted a commissioner with the California Highway Patrol and arranged for Hmong leaders to help recruit people to become CHP officers.

The goal was for the Hmong officers, once trained, to eventually "abandon the CHP and move to Laos to take positions of trust in the law enforcement departments of the new Lao government," according to an affidavit attached to the criminal complaint.

CHP spokesman Tom Marshall said Assistant Commissioner Arthur Anderson was contacted and arranged a March 7 tour of the CHP academy in West Sacramento for Jack and 26 Hmong representatives, including at least four who now face federal charges.

"It was presented as an opportunity to recruit people from the Laotian community. We don't know about this other stuff," Marshall told the AP on Tuesday.

The CHP is cooperating with federal investigators, he said, but "there is no indication of any criminal activity on the part of our people."

Also Tuesday, the permanent secretary for the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Somphet Khoukahoun, said he would wait to comment until authorities were briefed by US officials.

The Thai government declined to comment before a verdict was reached.

"Thailand will not tolerate the use of its territory for any movement that undermines the stability of its neighboring countries," said Tharit Charungvat, a spokesman for Thailand's Foreign Affairs Ministry.

After fighting as US-backed guerillas in Laos, members of the ethnic minority were all but abandoned when the country fell to communist forces in 1975. More than 300,000 Laotian refugees, mostly Hmong, fled into Thailand.

About 145,000 members of Laotian ethnic groups have resettled in the US, establishing large enclaves in Minneapolis, Fresno and in cities throughout Wisconsin, a US State Department spokesman said.

The 10 men named in two federal complaints include beloved members of Central California's Hmong community. Among them were the founder of Fresno's annual Hmong International New Year celebration and a former police officer from the nearby suburb of Clovis.

http://bangkokpost.com/topstories/topstories.php?id=119271

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Oh my god.

When do these people realize that the war is over? I cannot stand those insurgencies - nobody gains, and it makes life or normal people intolerable. Expect a new round of persecution of Hmong in Laos. :o

Sure. We should have said the same in 1940 : "the war is over. So why bother ?"

It's not an insurgency. It's simply "resistance" against a gvt of killers, mafioso style with a touch of stalinism, who continue to hunt down Hmong people, even now.

However, I agree with you, the war is over, indeed. The US have had already betrayed and abandoned Hmong and freedom fighthers (useless tools, and rather embarassing, after the pull back from Vietnam in 70's).

So, it's just another betrayal.

There will be probably other.

It's a shame.

Hardly a word of truth in here.

While it's true that Lao Hmong continue to be persecuted in Laos. it has nothing to do with America or the war. They are persecuted because of their birth rate in comparison to the Lao people and many refuse to "come in" to become Village people" and become "Lao" as the Lao PDR would wish. The operations of would be insurgency groups are separate from this, as their aim is to seek economic influence in Lao through gaining their own autonomous state. Their aims put the lives of remaining Lao mong further at risk. America has taken in The Lao Hming of the Vietnam War period and their offspring and their offsprings offspring. If they didn't take more it's because the IOM and UNHCR didn't see fit to register more as legitimate refugees.

I will say this however. It is true the US has betrayed and abandoned the Vietnamese Montagnard people, who were their allies during the war. This betrayal can be put down to the efforts of one man, Senator John Kerry, who blocked proposals which were unanimously supported in the US Congress, which would have aided them. It's mystery to me why he did this, but there was internet talk that his family made a lot of money in Vietnamese commercial ventures. You can Google it if you wish to know more.

For those who do not understand how the Hmong people are treated in Laos, I recommend you review these videos, which will open your eyes to the truth than from what you have read or what you assume to believe. These are graphic videos that support why General Vang Pao had to take things into his hands. All I support is that the Hmong people need to be acknowledged for their sacrifices and contribution to the US, and for the US and the UN to step in to help the Hmong people of Laos escape "death" (men's inhumanity to men). This is inhumane treatment. Please uncover the veil that has shrouded your view of the truth. The truth will set us free!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJHerGolvR0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtW08-HrGPI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJnUaH6_-cc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS2JOGTd2OU

We can't view You Tube here in Thailand. Though I'n sure you have presented grahic ebidence of the Lao Hmongs ongoing sufferin at the hands of the Lao PDR government, and let's be honest, their Vietnamese masters.

That many of us here regret this most recent escapade by the Lao Hmong hierarchy, it does not mean we do not feel sympathy for their plight and agree they are ruthlessly persecuted by the Vietnamese influenced Lao govt. That said, the Lao Hmong will never ever be allowed to have an autonomus region of their own in ant country. Their leadership needs to formulate a strategy to come to terms with that concept and whatever host government is in power, whether it be in Lao or Thailand. Lao Hmong seem to be one of the least capable races ever to assimilate with other peoples. If they can't overcome that shortcoming they will become just a tragic historical footnote of vanished tribes.

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EDITORIAL

Laos must make peace with Hmong

Vang Pao's arrest offers Vientiane a chance to peacefully reintegrate the ethnic minority into its society

The interception by United States authorities of a plot by Hmong rebels, including General Vang Pao, to overthrow the Lao government by force probably put the final nail in the coffin of Hmong expatriates' dreams of liberating their people from alleged systematic persecution by the communist regime in Vientiane. Small remnants of anti-communist Hmong guerrilla groups are still believed to be fighting a sporadic jungle war against Vientiane. Laos has alleged that Vang Pao and some Hmong expats in the US had, on several occasions in the past, raised funds to finance raids against Lao government positions from staging areas inside of Thailand, an accusation denied by Bangkok.

The arrest of Vang Pao, a warlord who led a secret army backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to combat Lao and Vietnamese communist insurgents until the end of the Indochina war in the mid 1970s, and eight other California-based Hmong by US authorities on charges of violating the US Neutrality Act, coincided with an improvement in Lao-US relations in recent years.

The US re-established normal trade relations with Laos in 2004 and has since expanded cooperation in economic and social development, including technical assistance and development grants, as well as engaging in a joint campaign against drug trafficking.

After the fall of Laos to the communists in 1975, the Hmong ethnic minority who fought alongside the US-backed royalist regime of the time was abandoned by retreating US forces in 1975. More than 300,000 Laotian refugees, mostly Hmong, fled into Thailand and most of them have since been resettled in third countries.

As court proceedings get underway in California, the prosecution team will produce further evidence to substantiate the charges against the alleged anti-Vientiane plot by Vang Pao and other defendants, including one former US national guard officer.

While the US action that may have pre-empted an alleged coup attempt against a country with which it has friendly ties is to be commended, the international community should not turn a blind eye to the well-documented plight of ethnic Hmong at the hands of the Lao government.

Thailand, which currently hosts some 7,700 ethnic Hmong who claim to have fled persecution in Laos in recent years, should not use the case against Vang Pao as a pretext to unburden itself of the Hmong refugee situation through the forcible repatriation of those now living in a holding centre. Thailand, which is getting impatient with Hmong asylum seekers, has begun the forcible repatriation of ethnic Hmong to Laos.

By cooperating with Laos and sending Hmong asylum seekers back to a country where many of them will face harsh punishment or persecution, Thailand also benefits by improving its economic and trade ties with Vientiane. But the Thai government must be reminded that it is supposed to live up to its obligation to uphold the human rights of ethnic Hmong who have sought shelter on its soil.

The Lao government - which is getting closer to removing the thorn in its side regarding the Hmong question once and for all thanks to the helpful actions of friendly countries like the US and Thailand - should at least let go of old grudges and show magnanimity toward the Hmong, who make up the biggest ethnic minority group in the country. Every attempt should be made by Vientiane to bring the Hmong back into the fold by adopting more reconciliatory gestures, particularly a willingness to respect these people's basic human rights.

Any repatriation of Hmong asylum seekers must be made on a voluntary basis, and returnees should be accorded proper treatment and their basic human rights must be respected. The international community must make sure that the Lao government's promise to respect the ethnic Hmong minority is verified by impartial observers.

More than three decades have passed since the end of the war and both the Lao government and the Hmong should put the painful chapter behind them. Latter generations of innocent Hmong should not be punished for the actions of their ancestors. Laos should learn to be at peace with itself.

http://nationmultimedia.com/2007/06/07/opi...on_30036199.php

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Loose tongues foil 'Laos plot'

BANGKOK - After a US Justice Department undercover agent displayed a Stinger surface-to-air missile in a bugged Hilton hotel room in Sacramento, California, the motley crew of would-be revolutionaries began to suspect that they might be the victims of a "sting" operation. They were right.

A mysterious woman named Lisa - "last name unknown", as it appears on the indictment - was allegedly tasked to find out who the man with the Stinger really was and whether a gang of

Page 1 of 2

Loose tongues foil 'Laos plot'

By Richard S Ehrlich

BANGKOK - After a US Justice Department undercover agent displayed a Stinger surface-to-air missile in a bugged Hilton hotel room in Sacramento, California, the motley crew of would-be revolutionaries began to suspect that they might be the victims of a "sting" operation. They were right.

A mysterious woman named Lisa - "last name unknown", as it appears on the indictment - was allegedly tasked to find out who the man with the Stinger really was and whether a gang of desperate Americans in California, and ethnic Hmong from Laos, were about to be busted.

Continue here: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/IF08Ae01.html

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Oh my god.

When do these people realize that the war is over? I cannot stand those insurgencies - nobody gains, and it makes life or normal people intolerable. Expect a new round of persecution of Hmong in Laos. :o

Sure. We should have said the same in 1940 : "the war is over. So why bother ?"

It's not an insurgency. It's simply "resistance" against a gvt of killers, mafioso style with a touch of stalinism, who continue to hunt down Hmong people, even now.

However, I agree with you, the war is over, indeed. The US have had already betrayed and abandoned Hmong and freedom fighthers (useless tools, and rather embarassing, after the pull back from Vietnam in 70's).

So, it's just another betrayal.

There will be probably other.

It's a shame.

Hardly a word of truth in here.

While it's true that Lao Hmong continue to be persecuted in Laos. it has nothing to do with America or the war. They are persecuted because of their birth rate in comparison to the Lao people and many refuse to "come in" to become Village people" and become "Lao" as the Lao PDR would wish. The operations of would be insurgency groups are separate from this, as their aim is to seek economic influence in Lao through gaining their own autonomous state. Their aims put the lives of remaining Lao mong further at risk. America has taken in The Lao Hming of the Vietnam War period and their offspring and their offsprings offspring. If they didn't take more it's because the IOM and UNHCR didn't see fit to register more as legitimate refugees.

I will say this however. It is true the US has betrayed and abandoned the Vietnamese Montagnard people, who were their allies during the war. This betrayal can be put down to the efforts of one man, Senator John Kerry, who blocked proposals which were unanimously supported in the US Congress, which would have aided them. It's mystery to me why he did this, but there was internet talk that his family made a lot of money in Vietnamese commercial ventures. You can Google it if you wish to know more.

For those who do not understand how the Hmong people are treated in Laos, I recommend you review these videos, which will open your eyes to the truth than from what you have read or what you assume to believe. These are graphic videos that support why General Vang Pao had to take things into his hands. All I support is that the Hmong people need to be acknowledged for their sacrifices and contribution to the US, and for the US and the UN to step in to help the Hmong people of Laos escape "death" (men's inhumanity to men). This is inhumane treatment. Please uncover the veil that has shrouded your view of the truth. The truth will set us free!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJHerGolvR0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtW08-HrGPI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJnUaH6_-cc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS2JOGTd2OU

We can't view You Tube here in Thailand. Though I'n sure you have presented grahic ebidence of the Lao Hmongs ongoing sufferin at the hands of the Lao PDR government, and let's be honest, their Vietnamese masters.

That many of us here regret this most recent escapade by the Lao Hmong hierarchy, it does not mean we do not feel sympathy for their plight and agree they are ruthlessly persecuted by the Vietnamese influenced Lao govt. That said, the Lao Hmong will never ever be allowed to have an autonomus region of their own in ant country. Their leadership needs to formulate a strategy to come to terms with that concept and whatever host government is in power, whether it be in Lao or Thailand. Lao Hmong seem to be one of the least capable races ever to assimilate with other peoples. If they can't overcome that shortcoming they will become just a tragic historical footnote of vanished tribes.

The reason they can't assimilate is because they are being killed. If they wanted to come out of the jungle and live in peace, they cannot. These Laotion groups want to wipe them out. Also, I don't know what you mean by Hmong people not being able to assimilate. Hmong people can adapt and assimilate into a new culture. It has almost been 30 years and the Hmong people have assimilated very well into the US culture. Today, we have Hmong teachers, doctors, professors, senators, school superintendents, police officers, soldiers, etc., and that is only the 1st and 2nd generation of Hmong in the US. Not many cultures can change and adapt so quickly in such a short amount of time. We don't fear for our lives so we are able to have a chance. In Laos, for the jungle Hmong, they don't have this chance for freedom to learn and to grow. They have no choice in the matter. Thats why most of them try to escape Laos and head on to Thailand to seek refuge. Since you have no access to Youtube, here is another website belonging to an American who documented the Hmong genocide in Laos. Hopefully, you have access to this information. She obtained the real truth that everyone tries to ignore.

http://www.rebeccasommer.org/documentaries/Hmong/index.php

Edited by nyuajsiab

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More bad news.. another forced deportation has allegedly started .. in last hour or two (Friday mornign).. Thai police evicting the 45 Hmong at Lom Sak..

This group was mentioned in Nation report yesterday. It includes a young couple (young father of three split from children in Nong Khai IDC who has already tried to commit suicide);that couple HAS UN papers recognising them as 'people of concern'.Most of the rest allegedly from Blia Shoua Her group - jungle near Vang Vieng. They are believed to be relatives or survivors of the massacre on April 6 last year (26 people - mainly women and children, allegedly shot in back, buried 5km north of vv). Pictures of bodies were given to US photographer Roger Arnold, and are on his website (rogerarnold.net).

This group should have been joined with the 155 in Nong Khai - transferred to somewhere further inland - and resettled abroad. Half those at Nong Khai have been approved to go to 3rd countries, but Thais don't have capacitya to stand up like decent human beings.

---- [email protected] wrote:

I spoke with Gia Pao Her right now. He said the Thai Authority forces everyone with gun points....and we got disconnected.

(Earlier note)

Dear (name deleted) and the diplomatic community:

I received a call from the refugees in Lomsak indicated that the Thai Authority is in the process of forcing the group to get on truck, ready for deportation.

Everyone is crying and begging for help.

Please contact the [Army] as soon as possible [to try to stop this].

Laura

Nation report from Thursday (p4)

HMONG PAIR 'BASHED FOR OPPOSING DEPORTATION'

Supalak Ganjanakhundee, Jim Pollard

The Nation (Thurs 7-6-07, bottom half of p4)

Ethnic Hmong being sheltered in northern Phetchabun province were stunned by the arrest of former leader General Vang Pao and fear it may cause them to be forcibly deported back to Laos.

Vang Sen, leader of Hmong in Phetchabun’s Ban Huay Nam Khao shelter, said: “I think the lives of Hmong here will be in trouble. Assistance from relatives in the US will be affected, as it would be under close surveillance of both the Thai and US authorities.”

Vang Sen said he was a nephew of Vang Pao and a former fighter for the US Central Intelligence Agency, who fought the Communist Pathet Laos before the fall of Vientiane in 1975. While his uncle resettled in the US more than 30 years ago, Vang Sen says he was left in the jungle, but fled recently to Thailand.

# Late yesterday, it seemed his fears were well-founded. Two Hmong men who refused to sign documents giving consent to forced deportation to Laos were severely beaten in nearby Khao Kor jail, according to a Hmong rights advocate who telephoned from the US.

Lee Pao Vang had to be taken to hospital after he and colleague Vang Meng Lee were bashed by Thai officials, Joe Davy told The Nation.

The pair were among 36 Hmong in the jail. Most had fled jungle areas near Vang Vieng and were part of a group led by Blia Shoua Her, who is in Nong Khai Immigration Detention Centre (IDC), he said.

Two of the group have UN status – Theng Lor, 26, and his wife Yer Lee. They have three young children, all under 10, who are in Nong Khai IDC. Theng Lor tried to take his own life several months ago, so there are major concerns about him, Davy said.

“We fear they are treating them more harshly due to Vang Pao,” he said. “The Thai and Lao authorities may be trying to legitimise strong-arm tactics with the refugees. It seems to have started already with the beating of these two at Khao Kor.”

Some of the Hmong due to be sent back had already been accepted by third countries for resettlement, Davy said.

Thailand has sheltered more than 7,000 Hmong in Phetchabun for several years. Most claim they were associates with the CIA “secret war” and fled from suppression at home in the hope of being resettled overseas.

Thailand and Laos regard the group as illegal migrants who were victims of human trafficking, not fighters. Lao spokesman Yong Chantalangsy said his government was ready to take them back once Thai authorities finish screening them.

“We agreed in principle that whoever came from Laos would be repatriated sooner or later,” Yong told The Nation.

Lao officials are monitoring the Vang Pao trial in the US closely and will consult with Thai authorities on reactions and movements of Hmong in the Kingdom, he said.

==============

Makes you wonder if the fellow bashed unconscious (Lee Pao Vang) and taken to the local hospital is with the lot being trucked to the border. By an act of God he may have been spared. On the other hand, reports of the bashing indicated he may have been close to death - "covered in blood and saliva", Laura was told.

Meanwhile, scumbag Thaksin pounces round in Japan debating economics, and how he will spend the rest of his life teaching .. not funnelling money here to stir up unrest, recapture control of the government and de-railing several dozen corruption probes likely to see him jailed for 20 years.. I often think it's because of his staggering selfish-ness that this country has slipped into a dark abyss.

===============

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Meanwhile, scumbag Thaksin pounces round in Japan debating economics, and how he will spend the rest of his life teaching .. not funnelling money here to stir up unrest, recapture control of the government and de-railing several dozen corruption probes likely to see him jailed for 20 years.. I often think it's because of his staggering selfish-ness that this country has slipped into a dark abyss.

===============

As concerning the reports from the Laos Border indeed are, i have to wonder this more than emotive comment on Thaksin. What does he have to do with the thread topic, and the fact that Thailand is treating refugees badly?

These sort of actions happened long before Thaksin appeared on the scene along all borders with many ethic minority refugees, are now performed by the present government (a few expletives could be added as well).

Thaksin was just part of a long ongoing problem, and semi feudal remnants are far more responsible for his appearance, and the reason that Thailand is slipping into a dark abyss.

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Meanwhile, scumbag Thaksin pounces round in Japan debating economics, and how he will spend the rest of his life teaching .. not funnelling money here to stir up unrest, recapture control of the government and de-railing several dozen corruption probes likely to see him jailed for 20 years.. I often think it's because of his staggering selfish-ness that this country has slipped into a dark abyss.

===============

As concerning the reports from the Laos Border indeed are, i have to wonder this more than emotive comment on Thaksin. What does he have to do with the thread topic, and the fact that Thailand is treating refugees badly?

These sort of actions happened long before Thaksin appeared on the scene along all borders with many ethic minority refugees, are now performed by the present government (a few expletives could be added as well).

Thaksin was just part of a long ongoing problem, and semi feudal remnants are far more responsible for his appearance, and the reason that Thailand is slipping into a dark abyss.

Col, it was an emotive aside. I neglected to explain why it was included - my point was that the junta under General Sonthi, the PM Surayud and current parliament (NLA) are very preoccupied with Thaksin, the remnants of his party ..whether it is the threat from growing rallies at Sanam Luang, more schools being burnt down in Isaan, or just the political structures emerging now that may well take key stakes in power after the next election. They also have the ugly violence in the South to combat. These events are, understandably, the government's key focus, and have taken huge amounts of energy to properly manage and oversee. One small example - I took a call from a farang friend in an Isaan village the other day describing how the local villagers were rostered on to stop their local school being burnt down. It was a very time-consuming effort involving a lot of people (and the next day one school was burnt down in Chaiyaphum, which is where he is).

The South is a horrendous weeping sore. I believe Surayud and Sonthi have made progress to resolving it, with the public apology and many other efforts. But they have had these other huge matters to consider - last week's court rulings and the possibility of massive unrest in Bangkok (think of all the cars they had to stop in the north and northeast prior to the rulings).. the lifting of the ban on political activities, etc. It's like a juggler with too many eggs in the air, and one of the eggs that has hit the ground .. is the Hmong refugees. I don't think Surayud and Sonthi are bad people - I rate them both very highly. But these people are overloaded, and I think Thaksin wants to keep it that way. He's facing endless years in jail. So, those on the extreme margins, suffer, as often happens.

If we look further into this, obviously, there are major problems relating to the leadership in Laos and that country's brutal policies in regard to the Hmong. One can only hope that the US action will spur some rethink in Vientiane and a far less brutal response towards the many hundreds of Hmong rotting in their jails.

My impression from reading an opinion piece in the Bangkok Post yesterday (Thurs), which spelt out very clearly the Thai military attitude to the Hmong - and possibly the overall Thai attitude to these people - is they don't want to know about the pitiful leftovers from the Indo-china war, now finally emerging from the jungle desperate for help. The Thais have got their own problems, and we have to acknowledge that.

Meanwhile, a correction: My previous post was incorrect. The group at Lom Sak who appear to have been taken to the border today is not the one in the Nation story. The Nation report was about a third group at Khao Kor police station. Sorry for getting that wrong.

The Nation and Post did not have a follow-up this morning to the bashing report yesterday, but I've just read an email from a Hmong rights advocate the US which says the Thais yesterday denied bashing anyone. They appear to have claimed the man hospitalised had attempted suicide by drinking pesticide. (People were then speculating as to who poured the pesticide into that poor fellow, but that appears to be the latest on that case).

Apologies for the error and being long-winded.

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Johpa mentioned a book - Back Fire: The CIA's Secret War in Laos and Its Link to the War in Vietnam by Roger Warner.. I think this has been re-titled 'Shooting At the Moon', and updated. It is a terrific read, and I've heard that Warner has been filming both here and in Laos - a documentary, I gather, with people such as Bill Lair (who oversaw the CIA operation in Laos before returning to the US). So that would be fascinating too.

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Oh my god.

When do these people realize that the war is over? I cannot stand those insurgencies - nobody gains, and it makes life or normal people intolerable. Expect a new round of persecution of Hmong in Laos. :o

Sure. We should have said the same in 1940 : "the war is over. So why bother ?"

It's not an insurgency. It's simply "resistance" against a gvt of killers, mafioso style with a touch of stalinism, who continue to hunt down Hmong people, even now.

However, I agree with you, the war is over, indeed. The US have had already betrayed and abandoned Hmong and freedom fighthers (useless tools, and rather embarassing, after the pull back from Vietnam in 70's).

So, it's just another betrayal.

There will be probably other.

It's a shame.

Oh good. The second post today that sums up what I would like to say so I don't have to say it.:-)

Yes I bet the Lao government is very pleased with USAs actions. Interestingly enough though most non-gowernment laotians that I have spoken with in the past say they HATE USA. I wonder why.....................

Temp

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