Monday, November 28, 2011
Laos Human Rights Advocate Dies
Washington, D.C. , and Vientiane, Laos, November 25, 2011, For Immediate Release
Contact: Jade Her or Philip Smith
Center for Public Policy Analysis
Tele. (202) 543-1444
Khampet Moukdarath, a human rights advocate for the people of Laos, and a survivor of the Lao gulag and reeducation system, died on November 6, 2011, in the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area. He was honored at recent events in Washington, D.C., by the Laotian-American community, the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. (ULDL), United Lao for Human Rights and Democracy (ULHRD), Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and others.
“Because of his devotion to his Buddhist faith and his love of the nation of Laos, Colonel Khampet Moukdarath suffered from torture and abuse in reeducation camps in Laos for over 13 long years following the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) invasion of the Royal Kingdom of Laos and the Pathet Lao communist guerilla takeover,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc.
“We remember the Lao veterans and Lao people who suffered unbelievable torture and pain for their beloved nation and people following the brutal communist military takeover by Vietnam, and for those Laotian people who were persecuted, tortured and killed in the reeducation camps,” said Colonel Khamthene Chinvayong, of the Lao Veterans Association.
“We will never forget Khampet Moukdarath’s deep and compassionate love for the suffering Laotian people, and his devotion to their future as well as the historical legacy of the sovereign nation of Laos, the Royal Kingdom of Laos,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C. “On many occasions Khampet Moukdarath courageously testified at the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos and at other policy events in Washington, D.C., about the plight of Laos and the Laotian people and about human rights violations in Southeast Asia.” http://www.centerforpublicpollcyanalysis.org
“Colonel Khampet Moukdarath’s life, and unique kindness, in the face of overwhelming difficulty, and suffering, has been a great inspiration to the freedom-loving people of Laos and to so many in Washington, D.C., and internationally,” Smith continued.
Smith concluded: “We are grateful for Khampet Moukdarath’s important life and his compassionate efforts over the years; we are especially mindful of the incomprehensible and prolonged suffering he endured for 13 years as a reeducation camp victim and survivor—as well as his vision and hope for a brighter future for the freedom-loving Laotian and Hmong people.”
“We remember all those who suffered and died for their country, as veterans of the conflict in Laos, in defense of the Royal Kingdom of Laos,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of American Institute.
Khampet Moukdarath rose to the rank of Colonel in the Royal Lao Army during the Vietnam War.
Following Moukdarath’s release from reeducation camps in Sam Neua and Xieng Khouang provinces in Laos, he fled Laos as a political refugee and lived in Thailand before being granted asylum in the United States. He frequently participated in pro-democracy and human rights events on Capitol Hill and in front of the Lao Embassy in Washington, D.C. On numerous occasions, from 1998-2010, Moukdarath served as a keynote speaker at the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos held in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate and Library of Congress.
Colonel Moukdarath was affectionate and fond of the Laotian people, as well as the minority peoples of Laos, including the minority Hmong ethnic group, whom he often worked with on key human rights issues. He advocated for the release of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy demonstrators, who were arrested in October of 1999 in Vientiane, Laos, and who continue to be subjected to harsh imprisonment in Laos.
In 2009, Moukdarath spoke out at international policy events held on Capitol Hill, and at the National Press club in Washington, D.C., in support of Kay Danes and other political prisoners, who were imprisoned in Laos’ notorious Phonthong and Sam Khe prisons. Three Lao Hmong-American citizens from St Paul, Minnesota, including Mr. Hakit Yang, who were also arrested and imprisoned in recent years in Laos, were also the subject of Moukdarath’s concerns and testimony at the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos held at that time. Moukdarath boldly called for their immediate release by the Lao government.
Colonel Moukdarath was honored by the CPPA and many others at funeral ceremonies held in Alexandria, Virginia, that were attended by hundreds from the Laotian community across the United States on November 14-15.
Organizations honoring the life and legacy of Colonel Khampet Moukdarath include the ULDL, CPPA, United Lao for Human Rights and Democracy, Inc. (ULHRD), Lao Veterans Association, Lao Veterans of America, Inc., Lao Veterans of America Institute, Laos Institute for Democracy, Laos Students Association, Hmong Advancement, Inc., Hmong Advance, Inc and others.