Net help for persecuted tribes of Laos and Vietnam

The Internet has become an effective tool of communication. It is through the web that the indigenous people in the forests of Laos and Vietnam are letting the world know about their persecution by their respective governments.

ALERTNET BLOGGER, Amy Hutt, who has reported on human rights issues in Southeast Asia, Australia and South America, writes about how the Hmong and the Montagnards are reaching out to the world, through technology.

Hmong, who live in the forests of Laos, claim that the government is persecuting them and treating them like enemies for their supposed relation with the rebels, who fought against the communist regime 40 years back.

A video has now surfaced on the YouTube, which shows a 10- year-old Hmong boy, whose stomach is cut open and the internal organs are exposed. He was attacked by the government forces while searching for food. He died two days after the attack, without getting any medical care.

The report also talks about a video posted by the ’Montagnard Foundation’, which shows the Montagnard people being tortured and beaten up by the Vietnamese forces. Although they have given up violence and disbanded their separatist campaign, the Montagnards are still facing serious government actions. The report estimates that 350 are in prison. The majority of the prisoners are accused of seeking asylum into the neighboring country of Cambodia or being active in the religious activities.

The Hmong
According to the data provided by the Wikipedia, China has the largest Hmong population in the world at three million. In Laos, there are 3,20,000 Hmongs and in Vietnam there are 7,90,000. It is said that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited Hmong men in Laos to fight the ’US Secret War’ in the country, in the early 1960s.

After the war ended, the Hmong were targeted by thecommunist regime and faced retaliation. Many fled to Thailand and other countries seeking refuge.

The Montagnards
According to the ’Save the Montagnard people’ website, the Montagnards are now facing political, economic as well as cultural retaliation from the Vietnamese government. Their language cannot be taught in the schools, and all the books written in their tribal languages were burnt after 1975.

Montagnard farmers are not allowed to use the public irrigation system, which affects their crop production and income level. They are also denied medical care and other facilities that other villagers receive from the government.

They are also facing religious persecution, many of their churches were forcibly closed down, and some were even vandalised. The government even arrested preachers and forced them to worship only in ’approved’ churches.

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