[Congressional Record Volume 146, Number 138 (Saturday, October 28, 2000)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2004-E2005]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                        HON. BENJAMIN A. GILMAN

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                        Friday, October 27, 2000

  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned about the deteriorating 
political, economic and security situation in Laos which remains under 
the brutal control of one of the world's last remaining Stalinist 
regimes. More is needed to promote democracy, basic human liberties and 
human rights--and to stop the serious, ongoing intervention by 
Vietnam's military and security forces in the internal affairs of Laos. 
This is needed to serve the interests of the American people and the 
freedom-loving people of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.
  Mr. Speaker, I commend the Center for Public Policy Analysis and its 
Executive Director, Mr. Philip Smith, as well as Colonel Wangyee Vang 
of the Lao Veterans of America for their leadership in helping to 
convene the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos. Many of my colleagues 
from both sides of the aisle have participated in this important forum 
series on Capitol Hill over the course of the 106th Congress. It has 
helped to develop enhanced awareness and understanding of the serious 
developments in Laos by policymakers. I am proud to have participated 
in a

[[Page E2005]]

number of these events, along with my staff assistant, Paul Berkowitz. 
In December of 1999, at one of the Congressional Forum sessions, I was 
pleased to participate along with Major General Vang Pao and other 
distinguished guests, and presented a joint report about our 
Congressional Staff Delegation research mission to Southeast Asia in 
the summer of 1999. In our report, issued jointly by the International 
Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we 
discussed the serious ongoing plight of the Hmong and Lao people still 
suffering in Laos. Other speakers and participants at the forum series 
on Laos included distinguished Members and staff from many offices 
including: Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, George Radanovich and 
William Delahunt, of the House International Relations Committee, on 
which I serve as Chairman, as well as Chairman Jesse Helms, Senators 
Bob Smith, Russell Feingold, Paul Wellstone, Representatives Mark 
Green, Patrick Kennedy, Calvin Dooley and the late Bruce Vento, who 
passed away earlier this month. Congressman Vento's leadership on human 
rights and with the forum series on Laos will, indeed, be sadly missed 
by so many in this Chamber and in the Laotian community.
  Mr. Speaker, the U.S. Congressional Forum series on Laos is making a 
significant impact in helping to provide vital information and to 
formulating policy toward Laos. It has helped generate numerous 
breaking stories in news services around the world, including the 
Washington Post, Washington Times, Agence France, Associated Press, the 
South China Morning Post and others. Radio Free Asia, Lao Service, as 
well as the Voice of America have also provided coverage. Historic 
legislation on Laos has also been enacted with the important 
information that has come from these Forums in Congress including H. 
Con. Res. 169, condemning, for the first time, the Communist regime in 
Laos for its human rights violations and other matters. I was proud to 
have worked with Representatives George Radanovich, Mark Green and 
former Congressman Bruce Vento to help pass this important legislation 
in the International Relations Committee.
  Mr. Speaker, thus far, distinguished panelists and participants in 
the Congressional Forum on Laos have also included important Laotian 
and Hmong leaders as well as Lao experts from around the world, 
including: T. Kumar, Asia Director for Amnesty International; Markram 
Ouaiss, The National Democratic Institute's (NDI) Senior Program 
Officer for Asia; Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Noble Prize nominee and 
distinguished Lao and Hmong scholar; Dr. Chou Norinh, of the United 
League for Democracy in Laos, and distinguished professor at Assumption 
University, Bangkok, Thailand; Dr. Bounchaloune Phouthakanthy, of the 
University of Quebec, and Secretary General, United Lao Association of 
Canada; Dr. Khamphay Abbai of Australia; Dr. Bounthone Chanthavixay, 
with the World Wide Coordinating Committee on Laos, Hagen, Germany, and 
former Lao student protest leader in Eastern Europe; His Royal Highness 
Prince Sayavong, of the Lao Royal Family, in France; Major General Vang 
Pao, Hmong leader; Colonel Wangyee Vang, President of the Lao Veterans 
of America; Thongsavanh Phongsavanh, of the Lao Representatives Abroad 
Council; General Thonglit Chokhbenbun of France; Thongkhoune Phathana, 
President, The Laos Institute For Democracy; Ms. Sothida Bounthapanya 
Lao Progressive Party; The Lan Xang Foundation, of Atlanta, Georgia; 
Col. Ngeunsamilth Sasorith, France, President, of the Paris-based,
  Mr. Speaker, it is impossible to thank all of the Members of 
Congress, staff and participants from around the United States and the 
world who have made the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos such an 
important success in the 106th Congress. The winds of intense turmoil 
and change are now blowing in Laos. The United States, with the help of 
the U.S. Congress, needs to do more to support democracy and free and 
fair elections in Laos during the upcoming vote in 2002.
  Mr. Speaker, toward this end, on December 1st, while the Communist 
Regime in Laos celebrates its dark anniversary of totalitarian 
dictatorship, it is important to note that a major installment of the 
Congressional Forum on Laos will be held in the U.S. House of 
Representatives with witnesses and participants from around the world, 
including the slated testimony of a group of student demonstrators who 
escaped from Vientiane, Laos recently and were just granted political 
asylum several days ago in America. A special ceremony will follow in 
Congress, during the evening, to mark the grim oppression of the 
Laotian people after 25 years of Communism. Laotian victims of 
communist oppression will share their testimony. I encourage my 
colleagues to continue to aggressively support these important 
activities and the efforts of Laotian people in their struggle to bring 
freedom, democracy and human rights to Laos.