Following the end of the Vietnam war in Indochina in 1975, Vietnam secretly annexed Laos by armed force. Although western governments were fully aware of this situation, no action was taken because the United States itself had been waging a secret war in Laos until 1975 which was in violation of the agreement signed in Geneva in July 1954 by the United States, France, the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, Great Britain, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, the Kingdom of Laos and the Kingdom of Cambodia in which it was guaranteed that Laos would remain neutral and independent and that all Vietnamese soldiers would withdraw from Laos.
Vietnam installed a puppet government in Vientiane over which they maintained complete control, enforced by a substantial presence of Vietnamese soldiers, military advisors and secret police. Lao embassies in other countries were controlled by Vietnamese supervisors so that Laos could be given the external appearance of an independent country. Huge numbers of political prisoners have been and regularly continue to be secretly executed. On 15th October 1996 Mr Thongsouk Saysangkhi, a former Vice-Minister in the Vietnamese- installed government, died in a concentration camp as a result of gruesome torture in retribution for calls for political pluralism. Many tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of Lao citizens have been secretly murdered under Vietnamese occupation.
Since the opening up of the country to foreign investment in 1988 western countries have conveniently ignored the secret occupation of Laos by Vietnam and the gross violations of human rights, in their scramble to exploit immense riches in almost totally undeveloped natural resources including gold, hydroelectric power, gemstones, oil, timber, and a huge range of minerals.
On 15th October 1996 Mr Thongsouk Saysangkhi on 15th October 1996 died in a concentration camp in the North-East of Laos as a result of the most barbaric torture. He was already in a terrible medical condition as a result of the brutal conditions to which he was subjected in a concentration camp in the North-East of Laos, yet was refused any medical treatment. Finally his hands and legs were tied with rope, and he was left outside in the open day and night, with no food or water. Mr Thongsouk Saysangkhi, formerly Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, had been arrested on 8th October 1990 in Vientiane together with Mr Latsami Khamphoui, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, and Mr Feng Sakchittaphong, a Ministry of Justice official. Their arrest followed the circulation in Vientiane of letters criticising the corruption in the political and economic system and calling for the creation of a multi-party political system. It is notable that in 1990 these political prisoners were Ministers and an official in the CURRENT communist Lao government, not in the former Royal Lao government.
Khamthay Siphandone and his government enjoy a very flattering image in the world's media as a benign and well-intentioned government valiently trying to steer their country of poor people slowly but surely towards economic development. Meanwhile he is a multi-millionaire growing fatter every day on the contracts with companies from Australia, Japan, and many other western countries for the rape of natural resources from Laos. Is it any wonder that western governments continue to flatter him and appease him?
Hundreds of thousands of innocent Lao people have been murdered by this barbaric regime - out of a total population of only around 4 million. Most have been arrested and taken away, and have then simply disappeared without trace. A senior Lao government official who recently defected to the USA admitted that around 90 thousand political prisoners had been executed. A current senior Lao government official recently unofficially informed the overseas Lao community that the total figures are in fact considerably higher than this. The Lao government themselves do not exercise real power, but merely carry out the orders from their political masters in Hanoi - it is this that is behind the desperation of Thongsouk, Khamphoui and Feng in calling for political reforms, for which they have paid/are paying such a heavy price. The manner in which they have been treated by the Lao government, accepting orders from Vietnam, is an illustration of the profoundly evil manner in which Laos is secretly controlled by Vietnam.
The evil regime in Vientiane must be CONDEMNED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY for their brutal and barbaric actions against the basic human rights of the Lao people in the manner that the evil regime in Burma is so condemned for similar treatment of their subjects. The biggest difference between these two countries is only in the attitude of the international media and the foreign governments. Western governments would LOVE to invest in Burma, but it is only the result of pressure from the world community (i.e. ordinary people, not governments) that western governments have been forced to reject the barbaric regime in Burma because the abuses of human rights in Burma have always received the limelight. By contrast the gross abuses of human rights in Laos and the ethnic cleansing waged by the Lao government against the Hmong people has never received publicity in the West. Laos is a small country which has always been ignored. Even during the Vietnam war when Laos became the most heavily bombed region in history on the entire planet (in the so- called Secret War), nobody ever heard about Laos or asked about Laos. Laos was sacrificed by the USA as a convenient buffer war zone between Thailand and China/Vietnam.
Like the regime in Burma, the Lao government is also a major trader in opium and heroin and is deeply involved with those who produce it. Yet the CIA publicly claim that the Lao government is not involved with narcotics even though they know perfectly well they are deeply involved with narcotics. Most narcotics groups operating in Laos are connected with government agencies and especially the State company Bolisat Phattana Khet Phoudoi which is owned by the Lao Ministry of Defence and run by General Cheng Sayavong. The CIA have reliable information that General Cheng has been deeply involved in the trade in opium and heroin for many years. Bolisat Phattana Khet Phoudoi (BPKP) is one of the largest companies in Laos with monopolies or near monopolies on many important sectors of the Lao economy. BPKP has for many years ordered local people in Laos, especially in Xieng Khuang Province, to plant poppies to produce opium for BPKP. BPKP also imports huge volumes of opium and heroin from Burma for export to the rest of the world through Thailand. Recently a major manufacturer of heroin with a large factory in the jungles in Oudomsay Province was arrested in Laos on an international warrant under intense pressure from the DEA. He was convicted in a Lao court to just _3 years_ imprisonment, because of his close ties with the government. Many believe he is unlikely to serve even that in reality. When compared with the torture and murder of Mr Thongsouk Saysangkhi for calling for government reforms, a sentence of 3 years for large scale production of heroin over 2 decades is a rather light sentence!
So why is it that the CIA recently published a report claiming that there is no involvement of the Lao government in narcotics at a senior level? BPKP is a state-owned company founded and owned by the Ministry of Defence, and is the official vehicle charged with the implementation of many government policies. General Cheng, its President, was formerly Minister of Defence (in 1976 he ordered the start of ethnic cleansing of the Hmong race) and is one of the Prime Minister's closest friends and colleagues. BPKP is also the main source of finance for Laos's huge army. BPKP has official and complete control over a huge area covering the majority of Khammouan and Bolikhamsay Provinces reporting directly to the Prime Minister himself. Therefore the CIA cannot claim that he is not a senior level of the Lao government.
Western governments, especially the USA and France, know precise details of a great many horrendous and widespread abuses of human rights in Laos, but they stay silent because they consider it more economically and politically expedient for them to do so. Both the USA and France have had very extensive secret service operations and links in Laos ever since the Communists took over. France has maintained an unbroken presence of secret agents in Laos since 1975. Both these countries have no doubts about the true political situation in Laos, yet they continue to lie to the world and reinforce the benign image put on by the Lao government. It is only through public pressure from large numbers of ordinary citizens that western governments can be forced to stand up to their responsibilities to say NO to the evil regime in Laos, and bring a discussion of events in Laos out into the open.
The long suffering Lao people have lived in a climate of FEAR for too long. Seeing the flattering coverage of the Lao government in the international press they complain that western governments are deliberately supporting the Lao government and helping the Lao government to suppress the Lao people. They are right. At the end of the day, the silence of the West and their willingness to invest in Laos help the Lao government continue to suppress the Lao people and prevent the Lao people from ever having any chance to overthrow the oppressive regime from Vietnam and achieve self-determination. Foreign investment does not help the ordinary Lao people in the countryside who form the overwhelming proportion of the Lao population - it just forces up the prices of essential goods faster than the prices of local agricultural production, making the lives of the poor rural people ever more difficult.
The Secret War in Laos has been waged from 1954 to 1997 - first by the Americans and Vietnamese, and later by the Vietnamese and their puppet Lao government against the ordinary Lao people. Please support the Lao people in their quest for freedom from oppression and self-determination by cross-posting this and similar postings widely to other newsgroups on the internet, and by putting pressure on your politicians to SAY NO TO THE EVIL PUPPET REGIME IN LAOS CONTROLLED BY VIETNAM.
The President of the Organisation of Lao Students for Independence and Democracy Mr Bounthanh Thammavong sends this appeal to the world community for an end to the tacit acceptance of the Vietnamese occupation of Laos, a demand for recognition of human rights in Laos, and support for Laos' right to self-determination and independence from Vietnamese oppression.
Organisation of Lao Students for Independence and Democracy
Ul. Mlynska 21/23. 40-096 Katowice. Poland.
Tel. 48-32 1538-851. Telfax. 48-32 1539-529. 1565-307
20 February 1997 Cracow
The Lao civilisation developed thousands of years ago in a mountainous region of what is now Southern China, and later spread throughout a large part of the region encompassing much of Southern China, Northwestern Vietnam, Laos, Northern and Northeastern Thailand, Northern Burma, and a part of India. Most of these regions are still predominately populated by ethnic Lao today. In addition to such a huge expanse of land, the ancient Lao civilisation had a highly developed culture. Over history much of the territories of the Kingdom of Laos have been lost to the neighbouring countries of Thailand (Siam), Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. From the 18th century to the 20th century Laos was a vassel state successively to Siam, Cambodia (Angkhor Wat period), Vietnam and France.
Discontent with the taxation, domination and political and military oppression of the French, we Lao people fought several land battles with the French in our quest for independence. We were unable to win the battles because the Lao people lacked modern guns. Therefore the French were able to control Laos for over ninety years. The French signed treaties transfering Lao provinces to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia in furtherance of their own interests. The Lao people continually tried to resist the French. By 1949 French troops were driven from our fatherland by the Lao Nationalists. The French left behind many abhorrant memories for our Lao people when on July 19th 1949 the Lao people finally regained our Independence from the French.
With the West's "assistance", Laos tried to maintain her independence during the Vietnam war. However in 1975 Laos again lost her independence, and is no longer a political entity. This happened because certain Lao leftist politicians had trusted Vietnamese politicians since they did not believe that the Vietnamese leaders would ever deceive the Lao people.
On the contrary - the Vietnamese had for a long time schemed to control the so-called Lao Revolutionary Party and take control and possession of Laos. Secretly Vietnam used three political steps to annex Laos as provinces of Vietnam.
The first step was to control, influence and use the Lao leftist leaders, who were carefully selected by Vietnam, seeking puppets who would listen absolutely to the leaders of the Vietnamese Communist Party. Shortly after World War II Ho Chi Minh, Pham Vanh Dong and General Vo Nguyen Giap invited more than one hundred Lao leftists to join the Viet Minh in fighting the French and Americans, and gave them training. At this time some Lao Communists and Nationalists suspected the real plans of the Viet Minh, and not wishing to cooperate with the Vietnamese escaped from Hanoi to Vientiane in Laos. The Vietnamese secretly executed hundreds of Lao people who refused to obey political and military orders of the Vietnamese. However the Lao Revolutionary leaders Kaysone Phomvihane, Prince Souphanouvong, Phoumy Vongvichit, Phoune Siphaseuth, Sisomphone Lovansay and others were unable to understand the political and military objectives of the Vietnam leaders, and they proclaimed Hanoi's political honesty.
From 1950 to 1956 having gained control of the Lao Communists, Vietnamese officils used their military puppet leaders and fighters to fight the French, Americans and the free Kingdom of Laos.
The second step was to ensure complete control of the Lao Revolutionary leaders. Vietnam sent political, military and secret police advisors to every military unit, and every national, city and provincial office. Therefore the Lao leftist Government Authorities have no real power at any level from local officials to national leaders. Their daily activities are conducted in accordance with political and military guidelines from Hanoi. Additionally Hanoi sent more than 60,000 troops to Laos to subdue Lao people who were anti-Hanoi and Lao Communist. To rule Laos effectively Vietnam forced Lao officials to sign a Treaty allowing Vietnamese troops to be stationed in Laos forever.
Hanoi ordered Lao puppet authorities to arrest and kill most of the former officials including the King and his family members.
Within the context of the Vietnamese methods of annexation, the Vietnam-Laos Friendship Treaty was in reality a means of completely controlling Laos.
To prevent internal criticism Hanoi insisted on Lao officials arresting Deputy Agriculture Minister Lasamy Khamphoui, Justice Ministry member Feng Sakchittaphong, and Material and Technical Supply Minister Thongsouk Saysangkhi on 8th October 1990, for their desire to defend their beloved country against the excesses of Vietnam. Thongsouk Saysangkhi died in a concentration camp on October 15th 1996 as a result of gruesome and prolonged torture. Already ill from the barbaric conditions to which they were subjected, Thongsouk's hands and legs were tied with rope and he was left outside in the open day and night, with no food, water, or medicine, until he died. At present Latsami Khamphoui and Feng Sakchittaphong are still alive, but are in a critical condition. They have received physical and psychological torture, and despite being ill receive no medicine.
To blind the West and to avoid world condemnation Vietnam agreed in principle with Lao officials to establish their own Embassies in several countries. In each Lao Embassy there are at least two or three Vietnamese advisors disguised as Lao Embassy workers, to keep an eye on the Lao Embassy staff.
The final step of the Vietnamese was to control all aspects of the political activities of the Lao leftist government. They run the political machine in Laos. Hanoi used all means it could think of to support the expansion of its territories. For example, Vietnamese officials ordered their soldiers to rape Lao girls, and also to marry with Lao girls, to alter the ethnic balance of the population and to reinforce their position. They expelled Lao people for not following orders to live somewhere else. From time to time Vietnamese soldiers forced Lao people to move from their villages and sent them to live with other Lao communities in other regions.
Once they had removed Lao people from their homes along the Vietnamese border the Vietnamese replaced them with their own people. No Lao people dared to criticise the Vietnamese authorities.
From July 1977 to the present time, Vietnam recognises Laos only as its own provinces. Lao independence was completely LOST. Once again, Laos was ruled and occupied by her neighbour. Every day the Vietnamese took from the Lao people all kinds of natural resources such as timber, iron, copper and minerals, in huge quantities.
All prison camp conditions are extremely harsh. There is still no due process of law in Laos today. The Lao and Vietnamese authorities do not respect the UN Human Rights Charter. Daily, Lao officials and the Vietnamese secret police execute Lao political prisoners. One former high ranking Lao officer Dr Phairoth Vonvirath, who recently defected to the United States, admitted and estimated that 90,000 innocent Lao people had been executed between 1975 and 1994. A senior Lao Communist leader who visited Washington DC in late 1995, and who wished to remain anonymous, spoke to a group of the overseas Lao Human Rights activists and claimed much higher figures.
In Laos this is the barbaric way one group of human beings who have the power treat another group of human beings who have no power.
We, all free Lao people, are appealing for help from the International Communities, especially the United States, France, Great Britain, Russia, and Germany and other countries. We ask you to use your power to insist on a Vietnamese withdrawal from Laos. We urge Australia, China, Japan, France, Sweden, Thailand and the United States not to fund any aid programmes for the Lao leftist government regime, which does not recognise the Basic Human Rights of their own innocent people.
We also ask you to support our objectives:
I To withdraw all Vietnamese troops, Official Advisors, and Secret Police from Laos;
II To suspend all aid programmes, including all political and moral support for the puppet regime in Vientiane;
III To free all political prisoners, and to allow prisoners' families to have a right to visit;
IV We strongly demand that the Special UN Human Rights Commissioners travel to Laos to inspect prison conditions in Laos;
V To compel Lao authorities to adopt some form of free election under the supervision of UN observers.
We are counting on you for your strong and unequivocable support
Bounthanh Thammavong, Chairman of the Organisation of Lao Students for Independence and Democracy email@example.com (Somsanith)