Cambodia’s Virachey National Park in Danger

Cambodia’s Virachey National Park in DangerOn a January late afternoon I was sitting in a small jungle clearing about 500 meters over the Cambodian border in Laos, utterly lost in a lost world. It was almost completely silent save for the melodious warble of an unseen bird. There is almost nothing which demarcates the international border between Cambodia and Laos…

China Starts Controversial Lao Rail Project

China Starts Controversial Lao Rail ProjectOn Christmas Day last year, work officially started on the China-Laos high-speed railway, a major engineering feat snaking from Kunming, in China's southwestern Yunnan Province, to Vientiane in Laos. Beijing hopes the track will form part of a larger transportation system, dubbed the Pan-Asian Railway, which one day may carry passengers and goods all the…

Book Review: A Great Place to Have a War

Book Review: A Great Place to Have a WarWhen John F. Kennedy won the election to become the 35th President of the United States, he met with his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who repeatedly warned him that the tiny, poverty-stricken country of Laos was the “cork in the bottle. If Laos fell, then Thailand, the Philippines, and of course Chiang Kai-shek [Taiwan] would…

America’s Stateless Hmong

America’s Stateless HmongThey came to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s as child refugees, members of the Hmong minority in Laos fleeing that country’s new communist government and persecution for helping the CIA in its covert war in Southeast Asia, looking for the promise of safety and a piece of the American dream. Many of…

40 Years On, Laos Still Covered with Unexploded Ordinance

40 Years On, Laos Still Covered with Unexploded OrdinanceWith less than 1 percent of the unexploded ordinance in Laos removed more than 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, the United States, which dropped it on the poverty-stricken country, is set to boost funding to remove it. Deaths and injuries from unexploded ordinance, or UXO, have decreased dramatically over the past…

Search for Laotian Activist Continues

Search for Laotian Activist ContinuesDespite the fact that he disappeared more than two years ago, efforts to discover what happened to Sombath Somphone, an internationally respected Laotian human rights activist and civil society leader, have not ceased. In fact, 145 organizations from six continents have continued to put pressure on the Laotian government, taking their case to 40 United…

Laos to Continue to Develop Divisive Mekong Dam

Laos to Continue to Develop Divisive Mekong DamLaos will go ahead with construction of the controversial Don Sahong Dam on the Mekong River despite agreeing to allow the Mekong River Commission Council to review the dam, the commission said on June 26. The decision by the Laotians to submit the plan to the council, which theoretically has jurisdiction over approval, was a…

Little Help for Laotian Bomb Victims

Little Help for Laotian Bomb VictimsA full 40 years after the last bombs fell on Laos, a quarter of the country’s villages remain contaminated by a diabolical array of unexploded ordinance that continues to take lives and maim the unwary. The weapons contaminating the countryside include large bombs, rockets, grenades, artillery shells, mortars, landmines and cluster bombs dropped or thrown…

Laos’s Misguided Drug Regime

Laos’s Misguided Drug RegimeLaos, trapped between thriving opium and methamphetamine producers in Myanmar and a reported consumer base of more than two million drug users in China - has sought to limit the impact of drug transit, use and production on its population. But the government’s policies, which harshly penalize drug use, are hampering efforts to treat addiction,…

Lonely Vigil for Missing Laotian Activist

For Ng Shui-Meng, the past 10 months have been lonely, frustrating and frightening. She has been engaged in a vain struggle to discover what happened to her husband, Sombath Somphone, who almost certainly was kidnapped and murdered, possibly with the complicity of members of the Laotian government. Shui-Meng refuses to give up, hoping that the…
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