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Robert Jambon: A Bold Life & Death For Laos and Hmong

December 13, 2011, Washington, D.C., Paris, France, Bangkok, Thailand and Vientiane, Laos

The Center for Public Policy Analysis, and a coalition of Lao and Hmong non-governmental organizations (NGOs), have issued a statement today honoring the life and legacy of retired French Colonel Robert Jambon and his valiant fight for human rights and freedom for the Laotian, Hmong and Vietnamese people. The NGOs also expressed their condolences to the Jambon family. According to his final statements as reported recently by an investigation concluded by French police, Colonel Jambon sacrificed himself in Dinan, France, as a veteran of the Indochina war, where he took his own life in seeking to bring international attention to the ongoing persecution and killing of the Lao Hmong people in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.

“The Lao and Hmong veterans salute the supreme sacrifice of Colonel Robert Jambon in seeking to offer up his life to help bring international attention to the ongoing military attacks, and human rights violations in Laos and Vietnam, directed against freedom-loving people, including the Hmong,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI), the largest Laotian and Hmong non-profit veterans organization in the United States ,with chapters and members in France and internationally.

“Colonel Jambon wanted to help to save our Lao and Hmong people and the refugees, and ordinary people, who are being persecuted now in Laos by the military and communist regime,” Colonel Wangyee Vang stated.

“Colonel Jambon is a hero to our Laotian and Hmong people; He recently killed himself in France as an dramatic and important international statement of protest to try to help our people and to try to save those in the jungles and refugee camps in Laos and Thailand who have fled terrible religious and political persecution, genocide and bloody military attacks,” Wangyee Vang said.

“The Laotian and Hmong people will never forget Colonel Robert Jambon for his sacrifices in defense of the Royal Kingdom of Laos during the Indochina war and his efforts to bring awareness about the plight of Laotians and Hmong people who are the victims of human rights violations,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. (ULDL).

“Colonel Robert Jambon’s life, and recent suicide in France, is an important and symbolic act of selfless love, and of calculated moral war, against systemic injustice and oppression that continues to be directed against thousands of innocent people in Laos, including the Hmong minority,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C.

“Robert Jambon’s final tragic act of love, and war, for the forgotten nation of Laos, and the persecuted Lao Hmong minority people there, has been heard in Washington, D.C. and has resonated with many in the Laotian community around the world,” Smith observed.

The CPPA continues to document human rights violations in Laos and Southeast Asia regard the Hmong and other peoples. Thousands of Hmong from Vietnam were arrested, or killed, earlier this year by the Vietnam Peoples' Army (VPA) in Dien Bien province after staging peaceful gatherings and protests. Hmong Christians in Laos have suffered increased persecution, atrocities and attacks by the Lao military and VPA forces. http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

“Despite the indifference of the international community, the war in Laos is, unfortunately, not over for the Lao Hmong people,” Smith continued. “The Lao People’s Army, and the secret police of the Stalinist regime in Laos, backed by military leaders in Hanoi, continue to kill and persecute the Laotian and Hmong people in the most brutal and egregious manner resulting in many refugees fleeing to neighboring Thailand and the ongoing deaths and casualties of thousands of innocent civilians as well as political and religious dissidents.”

“Colonel Jambon’s bold death, like the self-immolation of Tibetan and Vietnamese monks, is a fiery monument to heroism and self-sacrifice on behalf of the Hmong people of Laos and Vietnam whom he loved and knew, and served with in combat on behalf of France during the first Indochina war,” Smith commented.

“The violent forced repatriation of tens of thousands of Lao Hmong refugees from Ban Huay Nam Khao in Thailand, back to the communist regime in Laos, where they fled mass starvation and genocide in recent years, remains as a stain upon the international community as well as the hearts and minds of those concerned about human rights in Southeast Asia,” Smith stated.

“Colonel Robert Jambon rightly understood the horrific crimes, and incomprehensible abuses, that are still being violently inflicted upon thousands of innocent Hmong and Laotian civilians and religious and political dissident groups in Laos,” Smith continued.

“Colonel Jambon’s passionate and Gauguin-like suicide at the Indochina monument in Dinan, France, is a powerful symbol of devotion and understanding regarding the suffering plight of the Lao and Hmong people,” Smith concluded. “Robert Jambon’s courage in speaking truth to power to a world that has largely forgotten thousands of Lao Hmong people who have been abandoned by France and the United States in the mountains and jungles of Laos, and the refugee camps in Thailand, speaks volumes; The themes of love, war, betrayal, and the need to address the ongoing social injustice in Laos and Vietnam, resonate in the final gunshot that ended Robert Jambon’s amazing and important life”

Joining the CPPA, LVAI and ULDL in issuing a statement on behalf of Colonel Robert Jambon’s life and legacy include the United Lao for Human Rights and Democracy (ULHRD), Laos Institute for Democracy, Hmong Advance, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc., Lao Students for Democracy, Hmong Students Association and others.

Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders (MSF - Medecins Sans Frontieres), the CPPA and independent NGO and journalists have reported about the forced repatriation, persectution and human rights violations directed against the Lao Hmong people in Thailand and Laos.

http://www.msf.org/msf/articles/2007/07/hmong-refugees-in-thailand-are-a-population-in-danger.cfm

http://www.msf.org/msf/articles/2008/06/thailand-forcibly-returns-hundreds-of-hmong-refugees-to-laos.cfm

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA26/003/2007/en

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