hmong veterans of the cia's secret war

Take a look at these amazing photos by KC Ortiz, of some of the thousands of Hmong nomads and their descendants still hiding and surviving in the jungles of Laos, under constant attack by the Lao and Vietnamese armies. They are the Hmong veterans of the CIA's "Secret War."
In the early 1960's the CIA recruited and led the Hmong people of Laos to fight the communist forces during the Vietnam War in what is known as "The Secret War". Known as some of the world's best guerilla fighters, the Hmong loyally served as an efficient counter attack to communist forces on America's behalf.

In 1975 the US withdrew from the region, leaving the Hmong behind in communist controlled territory to fend for themselves. Many attempted to flee to refuge in Thailand, thousands were killed by Lao and Vietnamese forces during that journey. Some returned to their villages where they suffered retaliations such as death and prison, and even others escaped to the remote mountains and jungle in fear of that same fate.

Today, some 5000 Hmong veterans of the CIA's secret war and their descendants remain hiding in those same mountains. Life today is harder then ever before as they live a life forever on the move, under constant attack by the Lao and Vietnamese armies. They defend themselves with antiquated guns and those taken from dead enemy soldiers. Neither man, woman, nor child is spared in the government's genocidal attack against them.

The military attacks are far from their only worry however. Living a life on the run prevents the Hmong from farming or domesticating animals, ensuring that every day is a battle just to survive as food is scarce. They must forage the jungle for the roots and tree bark that they survive off of.

While most of the world has long forgotten about the Hmong, the Lao government has not. In December 2009 the Thai government forcibly deported 4000 Hmong refugees back to Laos at the government's request. This latest move is one that worries the jungle Hmong the most. Now, there is no hope of escape or refuge and the seemingly never ending battle truly has no end in sight. Their cries for help to the world's leaders have once again been overshadowed by international politics and they are left to play the unwilling pawns.
The photos are fascinating... and haunting. These people are what remains of a dark American legacy, -- a battle with no escape or refuge, and no end in sight. View all the photos, with full captions, here: FORCED REBELLION - HMONG CIA VETERANS OF THE SECRET WAR. (Thanks, Anne.)

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