Senator Jim Webb’s Meeting With Laos General Raises Concerns About War Crimes, Atrocities

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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2009-08-18 07:35:53 - U.S. Senator Jim Webb’s recent meeting in Laos with a senior Lao military official has raised serious concerns about ongoing war crimes, and crimes against humanity, in Laos under the LPDR military junta which continues to engage in military attacks against civilians according to human rights and refugee organizations.

Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia and Nong Khai, Thailand, August 18, 2009

U.S. Senator Jim Webb’s recent meeting in Laos with a senior Lao military official involved with war crimes, and crimes against humanity, has raised concerns in Washington, D.C. and in the Laotian and Hmong community in Virginia and across the United States.

On August 13-14, 2009, Senator Webb met in Laos
with Brigadier General Sisophonh Bangonesengdet of the Ministry of National Defense in Laos of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) a known war criminal that may be investigated and indictment soon by the International Tribunal in the Hague for his role in atrocities against civilians, war crimes, using food as a weapon against civilians and crimes against humanity.

Laos is a staunch ally of Stalinist North Korea and the military junta in Burma.

The LPDR has launched intensified military attacks against Laotian and Hmong civilians prior and during Senator Webb’s visit to Laos and Southeast Asia. Eight (8) Hmong children and 26 civilians were killed recently.

“We, the Lao community in Virginia, want Senator Jim Webb to help to work to bring human rights and an open society to Laos, and to seek to release the peaceful pro-democracy Lao Student Leaders for Democracy of the October 1999 Movement for Democracy in Vientiane who are still being imprisoned by the LPDR regime,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy, Inc. (ULDL) in Virginia.

Bounthanh Rathigna continued: “We want General Sisophonh and other LPDR military and corrupt communist party officials in Laos to be brought to justice for their ongoing persecution and killing of peaceful Laotian and Hmong people, including independent religious believers; We want Vietnam’s military and security forces to withdrawal from Laos immediately and we are appealing to Senator Webb, while on his trip to Southeast Asia, to urge the military generals in Hanoi stop their current military intervention and occupation of key areas in Laos, and end their oppression and human rights violations against the Lao and Hmong people.

“We also want Senator Webb to help stop the forced and involuntary repatriation of the Lao and Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand back to the communist LPDR regime they fled in Laos,” Mr. Rathigna said. “Lao and Hmong refugees continue to flee religious and political persecution in Laos because Laos is a one-party, corrupt communist regime.”

“Unfortunately, Senator Jim Webb may not be aware that Stalinist General Sisophonh Bangonesengdet has been involved in planning and directing bloody and ongoing military attacks and horrific atrocities against unarmed Lao and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissidents, including ethnic cleansing operations and a campaign of mass starvation, in Xieng Khouang Province, Luang Prabang Province, Vientiane Province, Khammoune Province and elsewhere in Laos,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C.

Smith said further: “Senator Webb may not have been informed by the U.S. Embassy in Laos, and U.S. Ambassador Ravic Huso, that General Sisophonh has slaughtered and starved to death innocent women and children in Laos in recent years by the thousands; Senator Webb may also have not been informed that General Sisophonh is a highly corrupt LPDR official and military general and is closely linked with key corrupt and sinister Ministry of Defense officials in Hanoi who have recently intervened at the highest levels in Laos to seek to reassert hegemony over Laos and to ruthlessly exploit Laos’ natural resources and economy for personal gain as well as the purposes of corrupt elements of the Peoples Army of Vietnam and the Lao Peoples Army ( LPA ). General Sisophonh and many of his colleagues in the Lao military and LPA are engage in the widespread rape and illegal logging of Laos’ ancient forests, with Vietnam Peoples Army-owned companies of the SRV, which is a serious environmental issue and violation of international law.”

“General Sisophonh is an infamous war criminal engaged in planning and implementing Bosnia and Darfur-like military attacks and crimes against civilians and unarmed political and religious dissidents in Laos, including the Hmong people,” stated Smith.

Smith continued: “Many people are concerned about Senator Webb’s recent meeting and photos taken with this brutal Lao military general who should instead be tried for crimes against humanity, and war crimes, in the Hague along with several other key Lao LPDR military commanders and party officials; we are hopeful that Senator Webb will help to bring General Sisophonh Bangonesengdet to justice, and seek to have him extradited to the Hague, for his role in planning recent ‘Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommando-like’ special hunter-killer operations that have resulted in the deaths and mass starvation of thousands of unarmed Laotian and Hmong civilians, including the brutal rape and mutilation of Lao Hmong children, as documented by many independent human rights groups, journalists and non-governmental organizations.”

“The New York Times, Time Magazine, the British Broadcast Corporation ( BBC ), Al Jazeera and other independent newsmedia and journalists have documented the plight of Laotian and Hmong civilian and dissident groups in Laos and the LPDR regime’s military and security force attacks against them,” said Smith.

Smith observed in conclusion: “In addition to war crimes and crimes against humanity, General Sisophonh Bangonesengdet is also involved in facilitating the recent high-level military intervention in Laos of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) and the deployment of increased levels of Vietnamese troops and special forces in Laos to participate in attacks and coercive operations against the Laotian and Hmong population in Laos; SRV and Vietnam Peoples Army signals intelligence, military advisors, special forces and SRV Peoples Army troops have been increasing deployed in Laos by Hanoi to hunt and kill Laotian and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissident groups living independently of the LPDR regime; General Sisophonh is a brutal instrument of Hanoi’s ruthless proxy generals in Laos, and its puppet military regime in Vientiane, that is largely involved in widespread illegal logging and other illicit effort to exploit the natural resources of Laos; Senator Webb may not be aware that General Sisophonh is a notorious ‘Adolf Eichman-like’ symbol of well-document atrocities and egregious Bosnia and Darfur-like attacks against the Laotian civilian population, especially the Hmong people, and has also allowed Vietnamese military-owned companies to engage in large-scale, illegal logging in Laos, driving thousands of minority peoples off the land as they are attacked by the LPDR and SRV security forces and military troops seeking access to timber, land, minerals and other natural resources.”

The Laotian and Hmong community in Virginia, and nationally in Washington, D.C., recently appealed to Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) to raise key human rights and refugee issues with senior Laotian, Thai and other officials during Senator Webb’s trip to Laos, Thailand and Southeast Asia.

“Doctors Without Borders, Médecins Sans Frontières ( MSF ), denounces the growing pressure applied by Thailand’s army to force the 5,000 Hmong refugees living in Huai Nam Khao camp, in northern Thailand, to return to Laos. Increasingly restrictive measures have forced MSF to put a stop to its assistance activities after some four years of presence in the camp,” MSF stated in a press release and report issued on May 20, 2009.

In 2004, the U.S. Congress unanimously passed H. Res. 402 regarding its opposition to LPDR regime’s military attacks, and campaign of mass starvation, against the Laotian and Hmong people. The legislation also urge the Lao government to release Lao student pro-democracy leaders of the October 1999 Students Movement for Democracy and other political and religious dissidents in Laos.

In 2007, H.R. Res. 1273 was introduced in the U.S. Congress by Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. House of Representatives addressing many of the same very concerns regarding attacks by the LPDR regime on civilians, mass starvation and egregious human rights violations.

Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders ( MSF ), Human Rights Watch ( HRW ), the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council, Inc. (LHHRC), the Lao Veteran of America Institute (LVAI), United League for Democacy in Laos , Inc. (ULDL), Laos Institute for Democracy (LIFD), Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVA), CPPA and others have issued recent reports and statements regarding the LPDR regime’s military attacks and atrocities against the Laotian and Hmong people.

In Geneva and Washington, D.C., non-governmental organization, Freedom House, has listed Laos, under the tyrannical LPDR military regime, in its recently release “2009 Worst of the Worst Report,” regarding egregious political and religious oppression.

The Foreign Prisoner Support Service, and Australia author and human rights advocate Kay Danes, have repeatedly raised concerns about egregious human rights abuses against foreigners and others imprisoned in Laos, including political prisoners.

Since August, 2007, three American citizens continued to be jailed in Laos without charge, including St. Paul Hmong-American Mr. Hakit Yang.


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