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I Little Slave: A Prison Memoir from Communist Laos

Events | Headline and Cultural Forums

Raised in the hierarchical society of traditional Laos, Bounsang Khamkeo earned a doctorate in political science in France, only to return home in 1973 to a county in deep political chaos and turmoil in the wake of the Vietnam War. Khamkeo worked for the government until 1981 when he was imprisoned by the communist Pathet Lao government—accused of being an “enemy of the Socialist state.” Drawing from his book, I Little Slave (one of the first full accounts of the Pathet Lao’s inhuman, secret prisons), Khamkeo discusses his gripping seven-year struggle to stay alive and maintain both his dignity and sanity, in spite of harsh physical privation and unimaginable psychological abuse—including a year and a half in handcuffs, sleep deprivation, hunger, no access to showers or medical care. Beyond a memoir of suffering Khamkeo sees his story as a powerful tool for influencing policy. “I love Laos and its people,” he said. “In Laos people have no basic human rights. That’s why I want to fight for freedom and democracy…my book is my weapon. I will live up to my commitment by peaceful means for an open society in Laos.”

Presented in commemoration of the 66th anniversary of Laos’ Independence Day.



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