June 12, 2007 / 1:17 AM / 12 years ago

Hmong rally in U.S. for general accused of Laos plot

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - As many as 1,000 ethnic Hmong gathered outside a federal courthouse in the California state capital on Monday in support of a former Hmong general accused of plotting to overthrow the Laotian government.

“Free Vang Pao! Free the Hmong!” protesters shouted as

Vang Pao’s attorneys argued in court that the 77-year-old ex-general was not violent or a flight risk.

A judge denied Vang bail in the case charging him and nine others in the United States with planning the coup.

Hmong supporters like 26-year-old administrative assistant Nikki Heu said they feel betrayed by the U.S. government after Hmongs died and villages were destroyed fighting Communists in the Vietnam War.

“When they pulled their military out, we were left for dead. We still have people over there. There is genocide going on. The Laotian government is trying to deny it, but it’s going on,” she said. “If the U.S. isn’t going to help us, who will?”

Reporting by Suzanne Hurt

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