May 6, 2008,
A breathless time, spring, with all its upheaval. Its approach, its elusiveness. Its promise.
Forgive my lack of blogginess. Lots of good work in the way, some of it to meet a publication deadline. My novella, The Stories of Devil-Girl, will be published in print in June 2008 by Modern History Press as part of their “Reflections of America Series.” The Series highlights autobiography, fiction, and poetry that explore the search to discover one’s context within modern society. Modern History Press is an imprint of Loving Healing Press. The novella was previously recorded on CDs, and is currently on sale as an audio file to be downloaded at this website, at http://anyaachtenberg.com/?page_id=46
Other news. I am soon to finish teaching Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction online with writers.com / writers on the net. It has been pretty glorious, and somehow gathered a group of astonishing writers, and astute responders to each other’s work. I will be teaching this same class online beginning June 23rd, so please visit http://www.writers.com/ if you are interested.
And here’s something I really want to tell you about. I recently saw a film called Hunted Like Animals, by Rebecca Sommer, about the ongoing genocide of the Hmong Lao people. It is urgent that what this film contains become known and acted upon by more people. This concerns the 30 year campaign to wipe out the Hmong who remain in the jungles of Laos, and the coming push to send Hmong refugees in Thailand camps back to Laos, to be killed. I am beginning work to get this film shown more extensively than it has been in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.
Here is more specific information:
HUNTED LIKE ANIMALS is an eye-opening documentary about an ongoing, but unknown, genocide — against the Hmong people in the jungles of Laos. Coerced into joining the CIA’s anti-communist efforts during the Viet Nam war, the Hmong in hiding are still mercilessly hunted, attacked, raped, tortured and killed by the military. Since 2004, the military crackdown on the Hmong has intensified and those who can escape seek refuge in Thailand. In this documentary, the Hmong Lao refugees speak for many thousands of voiceless people still trapped in the jungle, surrounded by Lao and Vietnamese soldiers. WorldFest Remi Winner 2008; Official Selection Amnesty International Film Festival 2008.
NOTE: Rebecca must be contacted prior to any showing of her film, and the film cannot be cut or edited in any way. DVDs are available for purchase from Rebecca.
Rebecca’s contact info:
Email: SommerFilms@gmail.com ; phone (718) 302-1949 http://www.rebeccasommer.org/
Kue Xiong, President
Lao Human Rights Council: http://www.laohumanrightscouncil.org/
P.O. Box 17363 St. Paul, MN 55117
phone: (651) 253-3709 fax: (651) 488-9102
The information below comes from dear friend Marilise Tronto, active in work through the UN and elsewhere for the rights of indigenous peoples:
“It is vital for the Hmong to get their story out; particularly in countries that are large donors to the UN (such as Canada), and there are diplomatic solutions that can be achieved through the international community if enough pressure is brought to bear on Laos. The crisis is accelerated now not only for the 20,000 (?) still hiding in the jungle under daily attack from the Laotian army (documented in the film), but because the 8,000 Hmong in refugee camps in Thailand are set to be deported back to Laos by the end of 2008, where they will be murdered. Thailand can do this because it never signed the UN international refugee legal instrument. Additionally, the Laotian general in charge of the Hmong refugee camps is being changed. At present the soldiers guarding the camp are friendly to the Hmong; the new leadership coming in (May 1, 2008) is not.
“This film has already created quite a revolution in the UN. It documented the Hmong as targeted and threatened people, not as insurgents, as commonly believed. This is unequivocally a human rights situation in need of urgent attention and repair.
“One young woman among the handful of Hmong at the April NYC screening thanked the sparse audience who attended. She said, ‘The most important thing is that we have had a chance to tell our story.’ That is their prayer; their hope; that one person in one audience will take the next step, be it diplomatic or picking up the phone, passing on the tape. As I said to the Hmong at the screening, this MUST be seen widely; one never knows where help is going to come from but a call as clarion as this will not be ignored. There are diplomatic solutions possible under the purview of the United Nations Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) that would allow for resolutions. The International Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples, passed Sept. 13, 2007, may help as there is now an international legal instrument that may give diplomatic efforts greater effect.
“Rebecca Sommer, the filmmaker, told me that at one showing of Hunted Like Animals, she went outside and there was a line of Hmong people literally for blocks. They stood there, silently, for 4 hours, while the meetings around the film/ the screening went on. She said their presence moved her so deeply. They told her they came because they wanted to show support.”
If you can set up a screening or can be of assistance in Minnesota in any other way, please contact me (Anya). If you want to set up a screening elsewhere, please contact the filmmaker, Rebecca Sommer.
Thank you so much.