Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kwv txhiaj from the Hmong of Phetchabun

The news from Thailand is not good. 6,000 Hmong refugees from Laos face an uncertain future (although, there have been recent plans to move them to a new camp--probably a better option than repatriation, for the time being.) At the same time, Lao government recently stepped up military action against the Hmong who remain in hiding (afraid of retaliation for their participation in the Secret War). While the UN and the United States have done little to effect change in the region, Hmong people around the world and human rights activists have drawn international attention to these pressing issues. A recent report presented to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (May, 2006) presented personal narratives from several Hmong refugees in the Phetchabun camp. The stories also appear in the documentary, "Hunted Like Animals," produced by filmmaker Rebecca Sommer (some clips from the movie). Both the report and the video contain some very disturbing material that may not be appropriate for all viewers, so use discretion.

On her website, Sommers offers recordings of kwv txhiaj sung by the Hmong now living in Phetchabun province in Thailand. I don't speak Hmong well enough to understand the content of the songs, but it is clear from the voices of many of the singers that they are under a great deal of stress. To be honest, they express such intense feelings that I found it difficult to listen for more than a few minutes. I make note of these recordings here with the hope that more people will learn about these ongoing problems, although it is unlikely that publicity alone will create a solution.

I don't know what can be done about the situation. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to voice them here.

Recent news stories about the refugee crisis:
10/09/06 - Detained Hmong Refugees Released from Prisons
10/19/06 - 438 Hmong Lao Removed by Helicopters
11/09/06 - Lao Troops Fan Out in Jungles where Hmong Hide

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