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Laos, Vietnam Human Rights Defender Mourned At Arlington

Laos, Vietnam Human Rights Defender Mourned At Arlington Cemetery

December 23, 2011, Arlington, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Fresno, California

Center for Pubic Policy Analysis

Flowers, notes and candles were placed today at the Lao and Hmong veterans’ monument in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, DC., by mourners wishing to honor and memorialize the life and tragic death of former French Colonel Robert Jambon. Mr. Jambon, a decorated Indochina war veteran previously honored by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, recently took his life in Dinan, France, in protest to ongoing human rights violations directed against the Laotian and Hmong people in Laos and Vietnam.

The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), the Lao Veterans of America, Inc., the Lao Veterans of America Institute, the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc., and a coalition of Lao and Hmong non-governmental organizations (NGOs), cosponsored memorial events in Arlington National Cemetery. They issued statements 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 of Indochina.

The NGOs expressed their condolences to Jambon’s family and friends. According to Robert Jambon’s final statements, as reported recently by an investigation concluded by French police, he killed himself in Dinan, France, on the steps of an Indochina war monument, seeking to bring international attention to the ongoing persecution and killing of the Lao Hmong people. The Hmong people in particular have faced forced repatriation, human rights violations and persecution in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders (MSF - Medecins Sans Frontieres), the CPPA and others have documented recent human rights violations against the Laotian and Hmong people, including the forced repatriation of thousands of Lao Hmong refugees and asylum seekers from Thailand to Laos in 2007-2009.

Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President and Founder of the Lao Veterans of America Institute, offered condolences to Colonel Jambon’s family and friends.

“On behalf of the Lao and Hmong people and Hmong veterans, I wish to convey our deepest sympathy to you upon the death of your love one, Colonel Robert Jambon,” stated Colonel Wangyee Vang.

“Colonel Jambon is a real friend and supporter of the Hmong people… You will be remembered forever,” Vang said.

“I extend my condolences to you and your family. I hope the memories will help lessen the burden of your sorrow, and that you may draw some measure of comfort knowing that Hmong people care and share in your loss,” Wangyee Vang’s statement concluded.

“Many are deeply shocked and saddened by the death of Colonel Robert Jambon whose heart-felt love for the suffering Laotian, Vietnamese and Hmong people in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam caused him to take his own life in protest to egregious ongoing human rights violations in Southeast Asia,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.

“The indifference of the international community to the forced repatriation and persecution of the Lao and Hmong people by the military authorities in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam is indeed troubling to many who have closely followed these issues and tragic developments over the years,” Smith 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 received numerous French and Royal Lao military honors and awards during his career, including official national recognition by French President Nicholas Sarkozy in recent years. He was a Commander of the Legion of Honor and received the Military Cross of Valor, the Order of National Merit and other medals.

The Lao and Hmong veterans monument in Arlington National Cemetery, established in 1997, is dedicated to the Lao and Hmong veterans and their advisors who served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

Center for Public Policy Analysis


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