Comrade Sayakane Sisouvong, Laos’ ambassador to Britain, spoke movingly of the electrifying role that the October Revolution and Soviet socialism – the first durable workers’ republic – had on the colonised peoples of southeast Asia, including the people of Laos.
“Socialist ideology only became influential in our country after WW2. But since then, our country has moved rapidly from a feudal monarchy, through capitalism to socialism.
“In Laos, our people are in control of the state, so it is easy for us to understand and explain the significance of the October Revolution, the benefits of socialism to you,” he says.
Comrade Sisouvong spoke movingly of the great price his small country has paid and is still paying for daring to brake the iron ring of imperialist ties and win its own liberation – just as the USSR herself faced a terrible war of imperialist intervention, coming hard on the heels of WW1.
“Building socialism takes a long time. It depends on the material conditions, the time and place you are operating in, and the maturity of the peoples in the countries concerned. Taking the example of Laos, communists led the national-liberation struggle, but the price we have paid for our liberation has not been easy.”
The genocidal war that the US waged on Vietnam, was in fact a war waged on the whole of southeast Asia – or ‘French Indochina’, including the peoples of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
All three countries coordinated their struggles and won their independence from French imperialist occupation through an armed struggle. They were then forced to face the Japanese, and then, perhaps most terribly of all, the new imperial tyranny of the USA, which after WW2 arrogated to itself the right to judge the legitimacy of nations’ chosen governments, based on their compliance to US world economic and military interests and its ruling imperialist class’s anti-communist crusade.
“The United States did not declare war openly on Laos. We are a small country. Although we have a land area similar to the UK, our population is just 3 million. But in their ‘secret’, undeclared war against our nation, the US dropped some 3 million tons of bombs – one ton for every man, woman and child living in our country.
“That was the respect for human rights that the USA showed our country. That was their independence gift to us.”
The USA carpet-bombed Laos using millions of tons of cluster bombs – which have since been universally condemned as an ‘unethical’ and particularly despicable form of weaponry, disproportionately targeting civilians and children.
Comrade Sisouvong explained to the meeting: “Today there remain more than 80,000,000 unexploded bomblets, unexploded pieces of ordonance (UXO), which act like landmines, spread over one third of the land area of our country, and every year hundreds of Laoation people continue to lose their lives and limbs due to these unexploded American bombs.”
Outgoing US president Barack Obama has belatedly ‘acknowledged’ the ‘secret’ war on Laos and pledged a derisory $90m towards helping to clear the mines. This is a drop in the ocean, and a fraction of the cost spent by the US devastating the natural and human environment of Laos and southeast Asia.
It is, in reality, an insult added to the devastating injuries inflicted by US imperialism on the Laoation people.
But the People of Laos remain defiant and proud, determined to forge their own destiny, and are able to hold their heads up high and teach the people of the world that even small nations can defy the will of the mightiest and most vindictive imperial power on earth.
As the great Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh said: “Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom!”
Comrade Sisouvong finished his speech with the uplifting words: “Long live the October Revolution. Long life to you all!”