Thursday, August 20, 2009
Infant used as target practice during military attacks that leave 26 civilians dead
8/20/09 Laos (International Christian Concern) Lao soldiers captured, mutilated and decapitated a two-month-old girl during recent military attacks against Hmong and Laotian civilians. Survivors of the attack said the infant was used for target practice.
“We are told, by some of the Lao Hmong survivors of the recent military attacks in Laos, that the LPDR (Lao Peoples Democratic Republic) soldiers of the LPA (Lao Peoples Army) used the … Lao Hmong girl, while she was still alive, for target practice … once she was captured and tied up; they mutilated her little body and continued to fire their weapons, over and over … until her head just eventually came off after so many bullets severed her head,” recalled Mr. Vaughn Vang, the Director of the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council.
The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) reported the incidents, claiming that 8 children were captured and 26 Hmong and Laotian civilians were murdered during a series of four major attacks over the past month apparently designed to stifle “religious and political dissidents” ahead of a visit by U.S. Senator Jim Webb. Christian Hmong were mostly certainly among those attacked as they are often targeted specifically by the regime.
Ranging from two months to eight years old, the captured children remain a concern to Mr. Vang, who said that their whereabouts were unknown and that they would likely be tortured and killed by the soldiers. The decapitated child’s body was found next to her mother, who had also been tortured and killed by Lao soldiers. A number of the female victims were raped and tortured before they were killed. The most recent attack occurred last Thursday, August 13.
Unfortunately, this level of brutality against women and children is not uncommon for Lao soldiers. It is standard procedure for soldiers to surround and isolate pockets of Hmong people and starve them out to be killed when they venture out to forage. Philip Smith, the Executive Director of CPPA, told ICC of video footage smuggled out of Laos in 2004 that documents the aftermath of the killing and brutalization of five Hmong children, four of them girls, on May 19th of that year. That footage was used in an extremely graphic documentary, “Hunted Like Animals,” by Rebecca Sommer. Clips from the documentary can be viewed at rebeccasommer.org, but please be advised that the clips contain highly graphic content.
Natalia Rain, ICC’s Regional Manager for East Asia, said, “Rights groups have rightly called the acts the Lao military commits against children and civilians war crimes. Let the international community not be guilty of the same by its silence in the face of a regime who has already been allowed so much room that it has reached the heights of sadism in the torture and decapitation of a two-month-old little girl.”