Dr. Vang Pobzeb, PhD. (or Pobzeb Vang) was a Hmong American dedicated to Lao and Hmong human rights. He was born in Laos on July 12, 1957 and died in Saint Paul, Minnesota on August 23, 2005, reportedly of a heart attack. He received his Ph.D at the University of Denver. He was recognized posthumously on September 22, 2005 by the Wisconsin Senate for his work assisting the Hmong and Laotian community. For over 25 years, he was an outspoken critic of the Marxist governments of the Pathet Lao in Laos and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam(SRV) and their human rights violations, religious freedom violations, and persecution of the Lao and Hmong people.
Dr. Vang was one of the first Hmong scholars and PhDs and earned his doctoral degree in international relations from the University of Colorado, Denver, with a focus on world politics and Asian security, refugee and human rights issues.
Vang Pobzeb was responsible for the United Nations's recognition of Hmong as the proper term for the Hmong people. Additionally, he testified in the US Congress, and at the United Nations in New York City and Geneva on numerous occasions on the Hmong genocide in Laos. Vang Pobzeb also published numerous papers related to contemporary Hmong issues, especially on human rights, world politics and foreign policy. His work was among the earliest Hmong scholarly publications in the United States.
Dr. Vang founded, a served as the first president and executive director, of the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. (LHRC) a national and international non-governmental organization NGO based in Colorado, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C. and other states.
Vang was fluent in the languages of Green Hmong, White Hmong, Laotian, English and spoke and read some French.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Vang worked with Philip Smith and The Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C., to research and obtain additional evidence of human rights violations in Laos as well as the forced repatriation of Laotian and Hmong refugees from Thailand back to the communist regime in Laos they fled. Dr. Pobzeb Vang frequently traveled to Southeast Asia, including Thailand, and Washington, D.C., to conduct research and public policy advocacy—and to meet with policymakers and Members of the U.S. Congress. This important information was often shared with key Members of the U.S. Congress and policymakers in Washington, D.C. who eventually worked to try and halted, and reverse, the forced repatriation of Lao and Hmong refugees from Thailand back to Laos, including the thousands of Hmong refugees who fled to the Buddhist Temple of Wat Tham Krabok. Many of these Southeast Asian refugees, and asylum seekers, were eventually resettled in the United States as a result of the work of Dr. Pobzeb Vang, Philip Smith, The Centre for Public Policy Analysis, the Lao Veterans of America, the United League for Democracy in Laos and others, to reverse the forced repatriation policy directed against Laotian and Hmong refugees who had fled political persecution from communist Laos to Thailand.
According to Smith and The Centre for Public Policy Analysis, in the 1990s and early 2000s, Dr. Pobzeb Vang, and the Lao Human Rights Council ,Inc., helped to raise awareness and provide research and information about military attacks and human rights violations in Laos by Pathet Lao forces, the Lao People's Army and the Vietnam People's Army. Much of this information was confirmed by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations as well as independent journalists.
Dr. Vang often shared his important research about human rights violations in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam with Vang Pao, and other Hmong and Laotian leaders, as well as American and international policymakers.
Vang Pobzeb also founded the Hmong American United Students Association in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in April 1981. In September 1986, he was appointed to form and chair the Hmong Council Education Committee.