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Chue Vue: A Hmong Woman's Refugee Story
Interview with Chue Vue on June 2, 2013 in Saint Paul, MN.
Chue Vue was born in Laos in 1949. Ms. Vue experienced the Secret War and here is her story as a survivor.
Ms. Vue recalled a moment during the war when Vietnamese soldiers came into her village and took control. Some of the villagers were afraid of the soldiers and fled into the forest and lived in caves:
“Vietnamese soldiers took control of our village for 9 days and 9 nights. We were not allowed to leave the village. However, we managed to escape into the forest. At night we would sneak back into the village to feed our pigs and chickens, and then return back to the caves to spend the night.” —Chue Vue
After 9 days and 9 nights, other Hmong soldiers came and helped Ms. Vue and other villagers escape the area. As she explains, they managed to maneuver through the forest and escape to the nearest village. The journey took them two days and one night on foot. The Vietnamese soldiers travelled to another village called Long Tieng, Laos. Ms. Vue and her family were in the forest and witnessed the slaughter of an entire village.
“It was during harvesting season and we were on our way to the next village. As we approach the village, we heard gunshots and immediately scattered into the forest for safety. We were 10 feet away from the people that the soldiers were killing…there were many of them that died that day…The next morning we planned to flee to Thailand, but Vietnamese soldiers spotted us. We were so afraid that they would kill us. We hid and lived with Hmong people who surrendered themselves to the Vietnamese government for a whole year.”
Ms. Vue and her family were part of the more fortunate groups because they had relatives who help them cross the Mekong River. The Mekong River is a body of water that separates the Laotian border from the Thai border. Many families did not have the help of others and would cross the big river with cheap floatation devices. Some would make it, while others would drown and/or get captured by Vietnamese soldiers that were scouting the area. Ms. Vue and her family were able to pay Laotian boaters to boat them across.
“Many people did not make it across the Mekong River. It was very big and scary. Some people drown, while Vietnamese soldiers shoot others. My family and I were able to cross by paying Laotian boaters to help us. We were fortunate enough because my sisters fled to France and were able to send back money.” —Chue Vue
After Ms. Vue arrived to Thailand, she was placed into the refugee camp called Ban Vinai for 12 years. She has been in the United States for 21 years.