WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 21, 2011) — Hmong National Development has assumed the role as a national advocacy group in responding to the concerns of Hmong American constituents regarding the plight of Hmong in Southeast Asia.
With the Hmong diaspora spread internationally, this often results in HND responding to international crises as they arise and are brought to our attention by concerned Hmong Americans. As a result, over the past two months, Hmong National Development has been monitoring news and media related to the recent events regarding the Hmong in Vietnam.
International media outlets reported in early May 2011 that over 5,000 Hmong had gathered in Northern Vietnam’s Dien Bien province. The reasons for this gathering were inconsistent across media outlets and lacked credible sources. For over a month the Vietnamese government denied access to the region to foreign media or diplomats, raising suspicions and concerns from the international community.
In response to the inquiries raised by HND constituents and requests for credible information, HND reached out to state senators, congressmen and the United States Department of State for credible information.
HND met with the State Department in June after officials from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi visited the Dien Bien region. Reports of the visit indicate that the majority of those gathered during the demonstration were persuaded by unnamed leaders to gather to await a Messiah. In addition, while the gathering grew in number, local Hmong villagers joined the crowd, assuming it was a protest for religious and civil freedoms.
The extent to which national military were involved to quell the group was unconfirmed, though local police were called in to encourage the group to leave the site and return home. During the process, an unconfirmed number of individuals were detained for resisting disbandment of the crowd. It is unknown what the current status is of those detained, nor what happened to the villagers upon their return home.
There are several layers which contributed to confusion during the rise of this incident. Among them, the Vietnamese government’s lack of transparency and restriction of access to the Dien Bien region after an event of this magnitude contributed to the level of international concern raised.
In addition, multiple news outlets reported information that was not from credible sources. Sensationalized reports with unconfirmed sources continue to be put out by groups such as the Center for Public Policy Analysis and Phillip Smith — both of which have not responded to any attempts made by HND to discuss the matter. As a national advocacy organization for the Hmong community in the United States, HND is taking the issues which impact the Hmong diaspora seriously.
HND is partnering with international organizations, legislators and the State Department moving forward and respond when issues of such a nature are brought to its attention.
Hmong National Development, Inc. is a national, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide the Hmong community with research, policy advocacy and leadership development. Founded in 1993, HND is the only national policy advocacy organization for the Hmong American community.
For the past 18 years, HND has provided local Hmong non-profits with capacity building and technical assistance tools, advocated for legislation which impacts our communities, cultivated leadership in youth through internship programs and youth empowerment models, and most notably are recognized for the annual Hmong National Conference.