Hmong community celebrates dropped charges

FRESNO, Calif.

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In the first of several celebrations, the Hmong community held a luncheon in Southeast Fresno Sunday.

Hue Vang is one of the 13 Hmong elders charged by the federal government for crimes against the communist Laoation government more than three years ago.

"My experience was a very emotional, very traumatized," said Hue Vang.

In January, Action News spoke exclusively with Seng Vue who was included in the accused Hmong. He, like Vang, said their stint in jail was traumatic.

The group, which included General Vang Pao was arrested in 2007. Many of the arrests happened in Fresno and Clovis. Thousands protested when the group of Hmong elders was arrested.

Ge Herr, who helped put on some of those protests, said, "It will be a good day for the family to see the son, the husband, to be home and to be free."

"They just permanently scarred everyone as the Hmong Americans... their lives changed forever," said Chi Vang, General Vang Pao's son. He said also his father would have been proud to see Sunday's event.

General Vang Pao died in January after complications with pneumonia. Five days after his passing, the charges against the other 12 Hmong elders were dropped -- but, they say, that was not the time to celebrate.

"We didn't want to react right away, because everyone still hurt. We wanted to give everyone time to recuperate and heal," said event organizer Ber Vang.

General Vang Pao's children say they're still in the healing process -- but, they say now the Hmong community in the Valley can focus on being advocates for the human rights of those in Laos.

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