Voices from Laos Tour in the National News
Thoummy and Manixia were in the U.S. less than 48 hours before sitting down with reporters from the Associated Press and the Boston Globe to tell their stories. Both spoke powerfully about their personal experiences with unexploded bombs in Laos and their motivation to work toward a future free of these deadly munitions.
National press coverage like this helps educate more people about the urgent need in Laos for clearance and survivor assistance funding, and is a testament to broad interest in the U.S. around healing this 40-year-old legacy. Read and share!
40 YEARS ON, LAOTIANS TELL OF US WAR LEGACY
WASHINGTON (AP) — Forty years after the secret U.S. bombing that devastated Laos, heirs to the war’s deadly legacy of undetonated explosives are touring America to prod the conscience of the world’s most powerful nation for more help to clear up the mess.
Two young Laotians — one a bomb disposal technician, the other the victim of an accidental explosion — arrived Friday on the anniversary of the end of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam and its far-less publicized bombing of neighboring Laos. The U.S. dropped 2 million tons of bombs on Laos over a nine-year period up to 1973 — more than on Germany and Japan during World War II.
Deadly legacy of secret US bombing of Laos lingers
WASHINGTON _ Lots of talk around here about possible war in Asia with missile rattling by North Korea and US Air Force bombers flexing their muscles overhead.
But in a nondescript row house in Northwest Washington on Friday a victim of a largely forgotten conflict in Asia whose impact is still all too real was plotting a different kind of campaign.
“I was eight years old, digging for bamboo shoots near my village when I lost my left hand and it was very, very difficult to continue my life,” recalled Thoummy Silamphan, 26, from Xieng Khouang province in northern Laos, as he clasped his hands—one a prosthesis—together.
It was exactly 40 years ago, on March 29, 1973, that Operation Barrel Roll—the secret US bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War—ended after nine years, more than a half a million bombing runs, and more than two million tons of ordnance dropped.
Laotian all-women bomb clearance team, “most dangerous job in world,” to speak in U.S.
As a bomb clearance technician and the leader of an all-women’s bomb clearance team in Laos, Manixia Thor has one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Unexploded ordnance removal is perilous and the days are long, but she knows that her work clearing bombs will make Laos safer for her two-year-old son and for future generations.
For nearly ten years, millions of bombs rained down on the tiny country of Laos, making it the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. The bombings ended 40 years ago this year, but more than 20,000 Laotians have been killed or injured by decades-old ordnance that litter the otherwise beautiful landscape. With support from the U.S. Department of State, Manixia and Thoummy Silamphan, a Laotian bomb accident survivor and victim assistance advocate, will be touring the United States on a speakers tour with the U.S.-based group LEGACIES OF WAR to raise awareness about the unexploded ordnance issue in Laos and the urgent need for further funding of clearance and survivor assistance efforts.
Posted: Mar 30, 2013