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World Premiere of ‘Hunted Like Animals’ Set for Friday, Nov. 24, 2006 in St. Paul, MN

Posted by kinchendavid on November 23, 2006

By Staff

The world premiere of the long awaited documentary “Hunted like Animals” – on the Hmong crisis in Thailand and Laos will be opened with a speech by Hmong leader Vang Pao, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2006 at 1 p.m. on Hmong New Years ground floor in St. Paul, MN.

Filmmaker Rebecca Sommer told us that “Hunted like Animals” tells an unwelcome, but true, story. “Genocide has been taking place, unseen and unnoticed by the international community, for over 30 years,” she said.

Lured into joining the CIA’s anti-communist efforts during the Vietnam War, the Hmong Lao, an ethnic minority of Laos became the Secret Army for the United States. When the U.S. pulled out of Southeast Asia in 1975, the communists overthrew the neutral Lao kingdom and the Hmong became targets of a furious retaliation and persecution.

”That conflict — a lifetime away for most of us — has never ended for many Hmong in Laos. Escaping to faraway high mountain jungles that were once very inaccessible, the Hmong in-hiding are now successfully surrounded by well-armed military. Today, they have no choice but to defend themselves and they, and their children, still die – from guns, bombs, artillery, torture, hunger, and chemical weapons,” Sommer said.

In the last three decades, many thousands of Hmong have escaped from Laos, and many thousands have been resettled. But many were left behind. Since the Vietnam war ended – the Lao government has been waging a so-called “defensive war” against Hmong “rebels” attacking them from the highlands.

This documentary lays that vicious falsehood to rest. In its fury, it seems, that Laos eradicates the grandchildren of the former CIA soldiers, Sommer said.

While many Hmong Lao today have successfully integrated into their country, far too many remain in the jungles in a never-ending nightmare. Over thirty years and two generations after the conflict ended, the Hmong in hiding are still-hunted. Some, of desperation, surrender, but they usually die or disappear.

Others have escaped to Thailand. Over the years, thousands have been resettled. But now an unhappy international community has finally wiped its hands and said “enough”. But still they come; still they escape from the jungle with their disturbing tales of subterfuge, torture, rape and death.

The Hmong in Thailand today speak for over 17,000 of their people, voiceless, still trapped in the jungles of Laos, perpetually running and hiding from an untiring, relentless predator. Today, they are surrounded, they are hungry, and they are being hunted, like animals of prey.

The refugees, who fled this nightmare, are threatened to be forcefully repatriated back to Laos, the very country they barely escaped.

Quotes from filmmaker Rebecca Sommer:

”I am impressed with the US based Hmong community. My documentary was made possible through the dedication of many many volunteers from the US-based Hmong community, Hmong organizations and the assistance of US-based Hmong leaders and Clan representatives.

“The Hmong Lao refugees showed great courage to stand in front of my video camera to send a message to the world. Now their voices are heard. Supported by the US Hmong community, “Hunted like Animals” will be sent out to governments, the UN system, NgO’s and for sure to Thailand’s officials, to anyone who is relevant to lobby for the plight of the Hmong Lao refugees.

“The refugees speak in my documentary for more than 17,000 voiceless people that they left behind, who are still trapped in the jungles of Laos – surrounded, waiting to be hunted down and killed by Lao and Vietnamese soldiers.

”To this day, the shell-shocked refugees in Thailand have been given no promise of protection. At any time, they may be sent back to Laos, the very place from which they have just barely escaped.”

Sommer described how the footage for the film was produced: Supported by the US-based Hmong community, the human rights fact-finding commission (FFC) smuggled High 8 cameras into the military areas where Hmong groups still live in hiding. The original High 8 footage was shot by the people themselves, and was brought out of remote mountain military zones, and then out of Laos, under the most difficult conditions. I included this footage into my film, it is evidence. It gives us just a glimpse of the atrocities the Hmong people in hiding are struggling to live through.

Background on the filmmaker:

Rebecca Sommer is the United Nations representative for the Society for Threatened Peoples International, in consultative status to the UN (ECOSOC). NYC based, German born filmmaker Rebecca Sommer traveled 2005 and 2006 to the Hmong refugee camp Huay Nam Khao (White Water), Petchabun, in Thailand, where she filmed and directed an awareness raising documentary focusing on the Hmong who fled armed conflict and genocide in Laos.’ As a human rights advocate and representative in consultative status to the U.N. for the Society of Threatened Peoples International. To see clips of the film, or articles on Rebecca Sommer’s documentaries, please view:

http://www.rebeccasommer.org/index.html

”Hunted like Animals” was supported by Hmong organizations: Fact Finding Commission, Hmong Archive, Hmong American Mutual Assistance Association, Hmong 18 Council, Hmong lao Human Rights Council, United Hmong International, United Lao Council, Hmong Archive.

For further information, or interviews, please contact: Rebecca Sommer, Cell: (917) 554-4933 (Filmmaker and Society for Threatened Peoples)

Kou Xiong, Cell: (651) 253-3709 (Hmong Lao Human Rights Council – MN)

Chue Chou Tchang, Cell: (651) 214-4053 Hmong American Mutual Assistance Association-MN)

Chue Hue Vang, Cell: (559) 458-3955 United Hmong International

Lia Vang, Cell: 651 7832350 Hmong Lao Radio.

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