Film proof of Hmong genocide, says activist

Connie Levett; 31/8/06; www.theage.com.au

New documentary evidence of genocide against the Hmong ethnic minority in Laos has been accepted by the United Nations, says a human rights activist who collated the information. Rebecca Sommer compiled the report, which was accepted by the UN in April. A rough cut of her documentary film Hunted Like Animals, with accounts by survivors of military attacks on the Hmong and shocking images of brutalised children, was to be screened for UN officials in Bangkok yesterday.

Ms Sommer said a meeting between the Thai Government, the Laos Government and UN officials had been called to discuss the issue.

The Laos Government has targeted the Hmong for more than 30 years because in the 1960s they fought with the CIA against the Communists.

Refugees from the conflict claim they have given up the fight and are simply trying to survive inside the Xaysomboun Special Zone, a mountainous area sealed off by the Laotian military.

The Laos Government denies the Hmong are persecuted. The problem has always been lack of evidence of alleged atrocities, Ms Sommer said.

In recent years, a US-based non-governmental organisation, the Fact Finding Commission, has smuggled in solar-panelled satellite phones and video cameras so the Hmong can report and record attacks.

Ms Sommer interviewed 1100 refugees who had fled to Thailand. “At the UN’s Department of Political Affairs, they have confirmed the US Government and the UN will no longer request more evidence … we know there is genocide going on against the Hmong in hiding,” she said.

The UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, based in New York, could not be contacted for comment.