Children of Laos tribe 'butchered by soldiers'

Laotian forces have been accused of raping, disembowelling and murdering children belonging to the minority Hmong tribe in a campaign of state-sponsored terror.

Laotian forces have been accused of raping, disembowelling and murdering children belonging to the minority Hmong tribe in a campaign of state-sponsored terror.

The human rights group Amnesty International says that the attacks, allegedly carried out three months ago, constituted war crimes and violations of international humanitarian laws by the Laos government.

The group says it has credible evidence that "scores of civilians, mainly children" were killed by troops or later died from their injuries, lack of medical aid and starvation.

In one incident, up to 40 Laotian soldiers were said to have been responsible for mutilating and killing five children aged from 13 to 16. Four of the victims, who were girls, were "apparently raped before being killed".

The soldiers are said to have found the children, belonging to a community which supposedly supported rebels fighting the country's Marxist government, foraging for food in the jungle. Others in the group managed to escape, but some were wounded by shots fired by troops.

Amnesty maintains that they have received detailed testimony about the assaults and executions from witnesses supported by a videotape of the incident. One witness, who subsequently fled the country, said he heard the children crying and one of the soldiers screaming: "Hmong, your mouth allows you to speak, your vagina allows you to breed." Then the soldier opened fire.

The victims have been named as Mao Lee, 14, her sister Chao Lee, 16; Chi Her, 14; Pang Lor, 14, and Tou Lor, her brother, aged 14. They were all said to have been shot at close range with semi-automatic rifles after being tortured.

Amnesty said in a statement: "The attacks violate the most fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law. These rapes and killings constitute war crimes. The Lao authorities must bring to justice those responsible for this atrocity and cease attacks on unarmed civilians.

"There have been increasing concerns over the last two years at an apparent increase in Lao government military activities against rebel groups. Credible sources have reported the deaths of scores of civilians, mainly children, from starvation and injuries sustained during the conflict."

Around 20 Hmong communities, including a large number of women, children and elderly, are believed to be isolated and surrounded by government troops who are accused of pursuing a " shoot on sight" policy.

The Laotian foreign ministry, however, said that the videotape, shot by an ethnic Lao man called Va Char Yang, now living in exile in the United States, could have been deliberately fabricated to use as propaganda by opposition groups in exile.

The Hmong were used by America as the Vietnam war spilled into Laos and Cambodia. The CIA and the Pentagon armed and trained tribesmen who were used against the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong as well as the Pathet Lao guerrillas in Laos. After the Americans withdrew as many as a third of the Hmong sought refuge in the US, Australia, France and Thailand. Some of the 300,000 who remained in Laos continued a low-level guerrilla war against the Pathet Lao, which overthrew the Laotian royal family in 1975.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea