When I was learning about the history of the United States, I noticed that “we” Americans had gone through a lot of trouble to get to where we are now. But when I just recently learned the history of Southeast Asia from a report called, “For Justice and Love” by the Providence Youth Student Movement (otherwise known as PrYSM. You can visit our website by clicking here: PrYSM) I realized that Southeast Asians have suffered one hundred times more than we have.
Southeast Asia has witnessed the traumas of war in its countries firsthand. Southeast Asians have been forced to watch their family and friends die. They have been conquered. Unlike the United States, Southeast Asia was controlled by communists. We “Americans” literally have had it easy since the Vietnam War ended. Yes we lost loved ones. Yes we lost the actual war itself. But Southeast Asia lost as well. Southeast Asians lost family and friends due to the bombings that were kept secret from the public and most of the government. I didn’t actually know about these secret bombings until I read the report by PrYSM. Southeast Asia also lost its freedom to communists.
America bombed countries that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Vietnam War. I think the bombings were the stupidest thing America has ever done. The bombings killed many civilians that once more had nothing to do with the war. Some of them did however, and those who were hired by the CIA interfered with the transportation of weapons from North to South Vietnam through the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Ho Chi Minh trail ran through Cambodia and Laos. Anyway, the reason the United States bombed Cambodia and Laos was this interference. So knowing that the trail ran through those countries the U.S. bombed the area in all three countries where the trail passed through.
At first it sounded weird how America had dropped way more bombs on Southeast Asia than they had on Japan in World War II. But it is true that this happened! I was shocked that this country did such a horrible thing to innocent people. It turns out the bombings had actually started four years earlier and that it was considered illegal because there was never an order saying, “bomb Cambodia and Laos.” No. The bombings had a big impact on how the countries of Laos and Cambodia were going to end up. The bombings stopped many things such as road travel and agricultural productions. Laos and Cambodia were bombed very badly, and what did the U.S. do to fix it? Did they fix their large mistake? They did nothing. They did nothing at all to fix what they started.
All right, so America messed up Southeast Asia and did nothing to help the region out. What makes everything worse is that the U.S also helped the communists by bombing these countries. After the bombings, the Khmer Rouge and the communist Pathet Lao Army gained control over Cambodia and Laos. When Southeast Asia fell to the power of the communists, the Khmer Rouge started to destroy all vestiges (evidence) of foreign culture, especially western influences. Yes, even “ours”.
The communists targeted anyone who was not Khmer, such as the Brao and the Cham. I also learned this from “For Justice and Love.” When the communists rose to power, the U.S started pulling people out of Southeast Asia in a process called refugee resettlement. Between 1975 and 1977 the “First Wave” over (as it was called) of refugees was mostly Vietnamese. Over 147,500 Southeast Asians came to America. As the refugee crises kept getting worse and worse in all three countries it brought another wave. It was called the “Second Wave,” (it only makes sense if that wave came after the first one). Unlike the “first wave”, the “second wave” was poorer, less educated, from agrarian backgrounds (farmers) and was most likely to be Buddhists or animists (meaning believing in spirits).
The refugee resettlement had planned on having the Southeast Asians spread throughout all fifty states without having a cluster of them in one rural area (but in my opinion I think that didn’t work out the way they had planned it). The reason why I think this is that Providence, Rhode Island, which was considered a refugee resettlement area, has a large population of Southeast Asians, most of whom live in the West End, which is perfectly fine with me because I have a lot of Southeast Asian friends that live in this area. Anyway, most of my Southeast Asian American friends actually go to PrYSM, which is a nonprofit organization that is based on Southeast Asian rights that was founded by Kohei Ishihara who is himself half Japanese and half Caucasian. You can follow the link to the PrYSM website if you want to read further about what our visions are. I got almost all (practically all) of the information in this blog from “For Justice and Love”. This is the link to the PrYSM website. The pictures of the Khmer Rouge and the Pathet Lao Army are from Time Magazine and Mega Historical Archives.