LAOS & CAMBODIA still recovering from the Vietnam War………It was only last year when former President Obama visited Laos to acknowledge the USA and other foreign powers devastating intervention in Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War. We had never heard of the Laos Secret War until we visited the Plain of Jars and came across numerous bomb craters within the area.
We would like to share a little bit of what we found:
September 06, 2016 Extract from Remarks of President Obama to the People of Laos
“I am very honored to be the first American president to visit Laos.
“I realize that having a U.S. President in Laos would have once been unimaginable. Six decades ago, this country fell into civil war. And as the fighting raged next door in Vietnam, your neighbors and foreign powers, including the United States, intervened here. As a result of that conflict and its aftermath, many people fled or were driven from their homes. At the time, the U.S. government did not acknowledge America’s role. It was a secret war, and for years, the American people did not know. Even now, many Americans are not fully aware of this chapter in our history, and it’s important that we remember today.”
“Over nine years — from 1964 to 1973 — the United States dropped more than two million tons of bombs here in Laos — more than we dropped on Germany and Japan combined during all of World War II. It made Laos, per person, the most heavily bombed country in history. As one Laotian said, the “bombs fell like rain.” Villages and entire valleys were obliterated. The ancient Plain of Jars was devastated. “
“I also know that the remnants of war continue to shatter lives here in Laos. Many of the bombs that were dropped were never exploded. Over the years, thousands of Laotians have been killed or injured — farmers tending their fields, children playing
The wounds — a missing leg or arm — last a lifetime. And that’s why, as President, I’ve dramatically increased our funding to help remove these unexploded bombs. As a result, Laos is clearing more bombs. Fewer Laotians are being hurt or killed. And together, we are saving lives. “
“But there is still much more work to do. So today, I’m proud to announce a historic increase in these efforts. The United States will double our annual funding to $90 million over the next three years to help Laos expand its work.
Given our history here, I believe that the United States has a moral obligation to help Laos heal.”
The USA and other foreign powers intervention in Cambodia during the Vietnam War led the country into one the most brutal regime in history, The Khomer Rouge.
In the four years that the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia, it was responsible for one of the worst mass killings of the 20th Century. The cities were emptied and the entire population subjected to enforced starvation, mass execution, slave labour and unchecked disease in what became internationally known as “The Killing Fields”. All the public institutions of society were systematically dismantled. Money and the ownership of all personal property were made illegal. Music was banned. Doctors, teachers, engineers, academics and all other educated professionals were executed along with their extended families.
Without trained doctors and any basic medical understanding, Cambodia’s AIDS epidemic became the fastest growing in Asia. Many died and thousands more orphans were added to those left abandoned by years of political turmoil. Medical services, such as they were, were completely incapable of coping. Social services were non-existent. This would have a devastating impact in fuelling the human trafficking industry in Cambodia.
Without knowing much about Cambodia and whilst riding through many of the villages and its Capital , we couldn’t help but feel the risk exposure environment in which many children still live today.
Today Cambodia has many organizations fighting children sex slavery and human trafficking. We visited one project called Daughters of Cambodia https://www.daughtersofcambodia.org who is doing a remarkable job to rescue young girls and boys from prositution and sex slavery by teaching them working skills and paying good salaries.
The vocalist in the video is Sophea Chamroeun, who once lived in Phnom Penh’s notorious ‘White Building’, in a slum area. She is now the vocalist of the well know band Krom, who tackle social issues and has been shortlisted for two 2017 Grammy nominations in the World categories: Best World Music Album and Song of the Year. For more information please visit : http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/article/2016/12/06/australian-cambodian-blues-band-social-conscience-krom-two-grammy-nominations