UCLA'S ASIAN PACIFIC ISLANDER AMERICAN NEWSMAGAZINE

Charges dropped against Hmong community leader

In NEWSPRINT on November 3, 2009 at 1:27 am

Charges dropped against Hmong community leader Vang Pao in connection with alleged plot to overthrow the government of Laos

Federal prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against prominent Hmong community leader Vang Pao. The original charges were from the summer of 2007 relating to a plot to violent overthrow the government of Laos.

Arrests were conducted when it was claimed many of the defendants had immediate plans to travel to Thailand to execute the plot against the communist regime. As charges against Vang Pao have been dropped, two new defendants have been charged in a new indictment. The twelve other defendants named in the new indictment are charged with violating the Neutrality Act and scheming to overthrow a government at peace with the United States.

In each court appearance Pao made, supporters rallied outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento. There was much protest from the Hmong community, Vietnam War veterans, and some members of Congress over Pao’s indictment. An editorial in the New York Sun states that “it is hard to recall a prosecution as misguided as that which was brought against the general whose army, in league with the Central Intelligence Agency, played a heroic role in the fight against the communists during the long war in Indochina.”

When Vang Pao was originally arrested, the Sun wrote, “He is a freedom fighter who will tower over any courtroom into which he is brought.” There is substantial support for Vang Pao as shown by the thousands of Hmong who came out in numbers across the country from Sacramento to Minnesota. In an LA Times article Vang Pao’s youngest son stated “His supporters can’t wait to see him to celebrate this momentous occasion.”

by: Tran Le

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