Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hmong people(苗族)

The terms Mong ([mɔ̃ŋ]) and Hmong (pronounced [m̥ɔ̃ŋ]) refer to an Asian ethnic group in the mountainous regions of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma. Hmong are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in southern China. Hmong groups began a gradual southward migration in the 18th century due to political unrest and to find more arable land.

Hmong are a linguistically and culturally related group of people recognized by the government of the People's Republic of China as one of the 55 official minority groups. Miao is a Chinese term and does not reflect the self-designations of the component sub-groups, which include (with some variant spellings) Hmong/Mong, Hmu, A Hmao, and Kho (Qho) Xiong. The Miao live primarily in southern China, in the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hainan, Guangdong, and Hubei. Some members of the Miao sub-groups, most notably Hmong/Mong people, have migrated out of China into Southeast Asia (northern Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand). Following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975, a large group of Hmong/Mong refugees resettled in several Western nations (United States, France, Australia, and elsewhere

In Southeast Asia, Hmong/Mong people are referred to by other names, including: Vietnamese: Mèo or H'Mông; Thai: แม้ว (Maew) or ม้ง (Mong); Burmese: mun lu-myo. "Mèo", or variants thereof, is considered highly derogatory by many Hmong/Mong people and is infrequently used today outside of Southeast Asia.

While China has the largest population of Hmong people, an exact figure is hard to determine. According to the 1990 census, of the 7.4 million Miao people, 5.4 million were recorded as speaking a Miao language. Of these, around 2 million spoke a dialect of the Hmong language. Currently, based on projected growth rates, along with the inclusion of previously overlooked dialects, the number of speakers of the Hmong language in China has been estimated to be around 3 million.

Figures for Indochina are more concrete:

* Vietnam (1999): 800,600
* Laos (2005): 500,000
* Thailand: 150,000

There is also small population of Hmong people in Myanmar, but no exact figure is available.

Outside of Asia, the United States is home to the largest Hmong population. The 2000 census counted 169,428 persons of Hmong people. This number has been criticized for seriously undercounting the actual population, which has been estimated to be anywhere between 250,000 and 300,000. Other countries with significant populations include:

* France: 15,000
* Australia: 2,000
* French Guiana: 1,500
* Canada and Argentina: 600

Within the United States, the Hmong population is centred in the Upper Midwest (Wisconsin, Minnesota) and California.

Types of Hmong/Mong/Miao/Meo

Chinese traditionally classified them according to the most characteristic colour of the women's clothes. The list below contains the self-designations, the colour designations and the main regions inhabited by the four major groups of Miao in China:

* Ghao Xong; Red Miao(红苗): west Hunan.
* Hmu, Gha Ne (Ka Nao); Black Miao(黑苗): southeast Guizhou.
* A-Hmao; Big Flowery Miao(花苗): northwest Guizhou and northeast Yunnan.
* Gha-Mu, Hmong, White Miao, Mong, Green (Blue) Miao(青苗), Small Flowery Miao(小花苗): south Sichuan, west Guizhou and south Yunnan.

classification in Laos:
White Hmong(Hmoob Dawb)
Green Hmong (Moob Leeg)-
Black Hmong (Hmoob Dub)
Striped Hmong (Hmoob Txaij/Hmoob Quas Npab)
Hmong Shi,
Hmong Pe,
Hmong Pua,
Hmong Xau

Classification in Vietnam:

1. Hmong Xanh (Green Hmong)
2. Hmong Do (Red Hmong)
3. Hmong Hoa (Variegated Hmong)
4. Hmong Den (Black Hmong)
5. Flower Hmong

The early history of the Hmong has proven difficult to trace. According to Ratliff, there is linguistic evidence to suggest that they have occupied the same areas of southern China for at least the past 2,000 years. Evidence from mitochondrial DNA in Hmong-Mien/Miao-Yao language speaking populations supports the southern origins of maternal lineages even further back in time, although Hmong/Miao speaking populations show more contact with northeast Asians (i.e. northern Han) than Mien/Yao populations. Historical Chinese documents describe that area being inhabited by 'Miao' people, a group with whom Hmong people are often identified.

Although the term 'Miao' is used today by the Chinese government to denote a group of linguistically and culturally related people (including the Hmong, Hmu, Kho Xiong, and A Hmao), it has been used inconsistently in the past. Throughout the written history of China, it was applied to a variety of peoples considered to be marginal to Han society, including many who are unrelated to contemporary Hmong/Mong people.

Conflict between Miao groups and newly arrived settlers increased during the eighteenth-century under repressive economic and cultural reforms imposed by the Qing Dynasty. This led to armed conflict and large-scale migrations continuing into the late nineteenth-century, the period during which most Hmong people emigrated to Southeast Asia. The process began as early as the late-seventeenth-century, before the time of major social unrest, when small groups went in search of better agricultural opportunities

From July 1919 to March 1921 the Hmong of French Indochina revolted against the colonial authorities in what the French called the War of the Insane ("La Guerre des Fous") and what the Hmongs call Rog Paj Cai (named after the leader Paj Cai, but literally means The War of the flowering of the Law). The War of the Insane or the Madman's War (Guerre du Fou) was a Hmong revolt against taxing in the French colonial administration in Indochina lasting from 1918 to 1921. Pa Chay Vue, the leader of the revolt, regularly climbed trees to receive military orders from heaven. It is now known Pa Chay Vue was addicted to the psychedelic effects of toad licking and subsequently spent his last years believing he was a goat sent from God. The French granted the Hmong a special status in 1920 so the French would leave the Hmong alone.

The CIA supported Secret War in Laos
In the early 1960s, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Special Activities Division began to recruit, train and lead the indigenous Hmong people in Laos to join fighting the Vietnam War, named as a Special Guerrilla Unit led by General Vang Pao. About 60% of the Hmong men in Laos were supported by the CIA to join fighting for the "Secret War" in Laos. The CIA used the Special Guerrilla Unit as the counter attack unit to block the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the main military supply route from the north to the south. Hmong soldiers put their lives at risk in the frontline fighting for the United States to block the supply line and to rescue downed American pilots. In 1967-1971, 3,772 Hmong soldiers were killed in the frontline, 5,426 were injured and disabled. In 1962-1975, about 12,000 Hmong died fighting against Pathet Lao.

General Vang Pao led the Region II (MR2) defense against NVA incursion from his headquarters in Long Cheng, also known as Lima Site 20 Alternate (LS 20A). At the height of its activity, Long Cheng became the second largest city in Laos. Long Cheng was a micro-nation operational site with its own bank, airport, school system, officials, and many other facilities and services in addition to its military units. Before the end of the Secret War, Long Cheng would fall in and out of General Vang Pao's control.

The Secret War began around the time that the U.S. became officially involved in the Vietnam War. Following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, the Lao kingdom was overthrown by the communists and the Hmong people became targets of retaliation and persecution. While some Hmong people returned to their villages and attempted to resume life under the new regime, thousands more made the trek to and across the Mekong River into Thailand, often under attack. This marked the beginning of a mass exodus of Hmong people from Laos. Those who did make it to Thailand generally were held in squalid United Nations refugee camps. Nearly 20 years later, in the 1990s, a major international debate ensued over whether the Hmong should be returned to Laos, where opponents of their return argued they were being subjected to persecution, or afforded the right to emigrate to the U.S. and other Western nations.

Of those Hmong who did not flee Laos, somewhere between two and three thousand were sent to re-education camps where political prisoners served terms of 3–5 years. Many Hmong died in these camps, after being subjected to hard physical labor and harsh conditions. Thousands more Hmong people, mainly former soldiers and their families, escaped to remote mountain regions - particularly Phou Bia, the highest (and thus least accessible) mountain peak in Laos. Initially, some Hmong groups staged attacks against Pathet Lao and Vietnamese troops while others remained in hiding to avoid military retaliation and persecution. Spiritual leader Zong Zoua Her rallied his followers in a guerrilla resistance movement called Chao Fa (RPA: Cauj Fab). Initial military successes by these small bands led to military counter-attacks by government forces, including aerial bombing and heavy artillery, as well as the use of defoliants and chemical weapons.

Small groups of Hmong people, many of them second or third generation descendants of former CIA soldiers, remain internally displaced in remote parts of Laos, in fear of government reprisals. Faced with continuing military operations against them by the government and a scarcity of food, some groups have begun coming out of hiding, while others have sought asylum in Thailand and other countries.

Throughout the Vietnam War, and for two decades following it, the U.S. government stated that there was no "Secret War" in Laos and that the U.S. was not engaged in air or ground combat operations in Laos. In the late 1990s, however, several U.S. conservatives, alleging that the Clinton administration was using the denial of this covert war to justify a repatriation of Thailand-based Hmong war veterans to Laos, urged the U.S. government to acknowledge the existence of the Secret War and to honor the Hmong and U.S. veterans from the war. On May 15, 1997, in a total reversal of U.S. policy, the U.S. government acknowledged that it had supported a prolonged air and ground campaign against the NVA and VietCong. It simultaneously dedicated the Laos Memorial on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery in honor of the Hmong and other combat veterans from the Secret War.

The dilemma: Hmong refugee & Controversy over repatriation in Thailand

In 1989, the UNHCR, with the support of the United States government, instituted the Comprehensive Plan of Action, a program to stem the tide of Indochinese refugees from Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Under the plan, the status of the refugees was to be evaluated through a screening process. Recognized asylum seekers were to be given resettlement opportunities, while the remaining refugees were to be repatriated under guarantee of safety.

After talks with the UNHCR and the Thai government, Laos agreed to repatriate the 60,000 Lao refugees living in Thailand, including several thousand Hmong people. Very few of the Lao refugees, however, were willing to return voluntarily. Pressure to resettle the refugees grew as the Thai government worked to close its remaining refugee camps. While some Hmong people returned to Laos voluntarily, with development assistance from UNHCR, allegations of forced repatriation surfaced. Of those Hmong who did return to Laos, some quickly escaped back to Thailand, describing discrimination and brutal treatment at the hands of Lao authorities.

In 1993, Vue Mai, a former Hmong soldier who had been recruited by the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok to return to Laos as proof of the repatriation program's success, disappeared in Vientiane. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees, he was arrested by Lao security forces and was never seen again.

Following the Vue Mai incident, debate over the Hmong's planned repatriation to Laos intensified greatly, especially in the U.S., where it drew strong opposition from many American conservatives and some human rights advocates. In an October 23, 1995 National Review article, Michael Johns, the former Heritage Foundation foreign policy expert and Republican White House aide, labeled the Hmong's repatriation a Clinton administration "betrayal," describing the Hmong as a people "who have spilled their blood in defense of American geopolitical interests." Debate on the issue escalated quickly. In an effort to halt the planned repatriation, the Republican-led U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives both appropriated funds for the remaining Thailand-based Hmong to be immediately resettled in the U.S.; Clinton, however, responded by promising a veto of the legislation.

n their opposition of the repatriation plans, Republicans also challenged the Clinton administration's position that the Laotian government was not systematically violating Hmong human rights. U.S. Representative Steve Gunderson (R-WI), for instance, told a Hmong gathering: "I do not enjoy standing up and saying to my government that you are not telling the truth, but if that is necessary to defend truth and justice, I will do that." Republicans also called several Congressional hearings on alleged persecution of the Hmong in Laos in an apparent attempt to generate further support for their opposition to the Hmong's repatriation to Laos.

Although some accusations of forced repatriation were denied, thousands of Hmong people refused to return to Laos. In 1996, as the deadline for the closure of Thai refugee camps approached, and under mounting political pressure, the U.S. agreed to resettle Hmong refugees who passed a new screening process. Around 5,000 Hmong people who were not resettled at the time of the camp closures sought asylum at Wat Tham Krabok, a Buddhist monastery in central Thailand where more than 10,000 Hmong refugees were already living. The Thai government attempted to repatriate these refugees, but the Wat Tham Krabok Hmong refused to leave and the Lao government refused to accept them, claiming they were involved in the illegal drug trade and were of non-Lao origin.

In 2003, following threats of forcible removal by the Thai government, the U.S., in a significant victory for the Hmong, agreed to accept 15,000 of the refugees. Several thousand Hmong people, fearing forced repatriation to Laos if they were not accepted for resettlement in the U.S., fled the camp to live elsewhere within Thailand where a sizable Hmong population has been present since the 19th-century.

In 2004 and 2005, thousands of Hmong fled from the jungles of Laos to a temporary refugee camp in the Thai province of Phetchabun. These Hmong refugees, many of whom are descendants of the former-CIA Secret Army and their relatives, claim that they have been attacked by both the Lao and Vietnamese military forces operating inside Laos as recently as June 2006. The refugees claim that attacks against them have continued almost unabated since the war officially ended in 1975, and have become more intense in recent years.

Lending further support to earlier claims that the government of Laos was persecuting the Hmong, filmmaker Rebecca Sommer documented first-hand accounts in her documentary, Hunted Like Animals, and in a comprehensive report which includes summaries of claims made by the refugees and was submitted to the U.N. in May 2006.

The European Union , UNHCHR, UNHCR, and international groups have since spoken out about the forced repatriation. The Thai foreign ministry has said that it will halt deportation of Hmong refugees held in Detention Centers Nong Khai, while talks are underway to resettle them in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States.

For the time being, countries willing to resettle the refugees are hindered to proceed with immigration and settlement procedures because the Thai administration does not grant them access to the refugees. Plans to resettle additional Hmong refugees in the U.S. have been complicated by provisions of President Bush's Patriot Act and Real ID Act, under which Hmong veterans of the Secret War, who fought on the side of the United States, are classified as terrorists because of their historical involvement in armed conflict.

(source: wikipedia)

The Thai government says they are illegal migrants, but the refugees say they fled political persecution. Human Rights groups say they have major concerns for their safety in the communist country. The Hmong were sent back to unknown future....

The youtube upload revealed the sad situation of Hmong in hidden jungle at Laos; when the American CIA need them, they used them and exploited them in the war, the ugly Vietnam War which the innocent Hmong do not know what they are fighting for. After the war,CIA abandoned them. The ugly face of how a developed nation betray the innocent people of developing nation/ or unrepresented nation/community.....did you hear their voices, CIA?

Chinese Hmong or Miao is the most happy lot; Black Hmong in Sapa, Flower Hmong in Bac Ha, who are all dressed up in their colorful costume, and showing tourists with sweet smiles; even the Flower Hmong are poor in Hac Bac, but they are happy in Vietnam. The refugee in Thailand are pityful, but still slightly better, at least they are secured; but the life in Laos jungle, a sad story.....Hmong without the liberty to dress in traditional way, running for their lives each day........

Personally, I still remember the two Hmong girls I met in 2007, at Takuti , North Thailand...... where are they now.....

Further Readings/refrences:

1. professional website of Dr Gary Yia Lee, a Hmong anthropologist and author based in Australia
2. more on Hmong people in other places)
3. more on China's Miao people)
6. HUNTED LIKE ANIMALS series, Sommer Films by Rebecca Sommer.youtubes
7. The Lost Tribe Part 1 & 2, youtubes

No comments:

Post a Comment