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KC Ortiz January 31, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Laos.

Three Generations of Hmong in their Hidden Camp, Laos, 2010

KC Ortiz (b.1978, USA) is a self taught freelance photojournalist with a split base between Chicago and Western Thailand. His interest in photography grew while serving time in prison where he absorbed any and all photographs he could get his hands on, mostly through dated newspapers and magazines. After a year and a half of working in construction and then as a graphic designer, in 2008 he bought his first camera and began his work, with a focus on under reported issues and over looked people. His work has appeared in A-magasinet, Global Post, The Independent, The Irrawaddy, Juxtapoz, Time.com, and others. He has exhibited in Canada, Korea, the UK, and the USA.

About the Photograph:

“In late 2009 through early 2010 I spent time with the jungle Hmong in Laos, where this photo was shot.  The Hmong living in the jungles of Laos are the left over remnants of a war long ago fought and finished.  They were recruited by the CIA during the Vietnam war to fight Vietnamese and Laotian communist forces in Laos on behalf of the US in what is known as “The Secret War”. After the Americans pulled out of the region in defeat, they left the majority of the Hmong behind to fend for themselves.  While the rest of the world has forgotten about the Hmong, the Lao People’s Army (LPA) has not, they hunt them to this day in retribution for the Hmong having sided with the USA.”

“It is my opinion that the Hmong living on the run in the jungles of Laos are one of, if not the most, persecuted people in the world. They receive absolutely no assistance or aid from any outside source. They are stuck in a horrible situation with absolutely no way out. They are out gunned, out manned, and under constant threat of attack by the LPA, which has much more ramifications then strictly physical violence. The fact that they live completely on the run, changing camp every week, means they are unable to secure any sort of stable source of food. The short term stays do not allow for agriculture or raising livestock and they are forced to survive through foraging for roots and tree bark in the jungle. In a constant state of near starvation, always on the move, forever fleeing a determined enemy, they are left with no options, no allies, and no escape.”

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