Photos by Adam Jones
These photos were taken during two months in Indochina
(Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) from May to July 2009.
Photo Gallery 31: Laos - Vientiane
This gallery: photos from our single day in Laos's capital, along the Mekong River
frontier with Thailand.
Silk thread on sale in Talat Sao, Vientiane's largest market.
Firing gold in the market.
The Presidential Palace.
This photo and the next: a flower-and-vegetable market near the COPE complex (see following).
The National Rehabilitation Centre works mostly with the new victims of the unexploded
ordnance (UXO) which still litters the Lao landscape. Hundreds of people, about a third of them young children,
are killed or maimed every year by these munitions, most notoriously the bomblets ("bombies," as they're called)
from cluster bombs.
The centre includes the office of the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE),
where the remaining photos in this gallery were taken. The centre does extraordinarily laudable work outfitting
amputees (mostly UXO victims) with prosthetic limbs, and also features a very sobering exhibition, from which these images
are drawn. Please consider donating to their efforts.
Outside the COPE office stands this powerful sculpture of a mother and child, made entirely from war scrap.
The red areas on the map are those of the most intensive saturation bombing by the US in its
"Secret War" against Laos (hardly secret to the Laotians). The zone in the northeast was the heartland of the Pathet Lao
guerrillas and their North Vietnamese allies, and includes the Plain of Jars, which you will see in a future gallery. The
southeast section lies along the route of the "Ho Chi Minh Trail." The US dropped some two million tons of bombs on
Laos, more than it unleashed against all countries in all theatres of the Second World War -- approximately two tons for
every Laotian woman, man, and child living in the afflicted areas. Imperialism sucks.
A sculpture made of "bombies," the pellet-filled canisters that compose a CBU (cluster bomb unit). For information
on the campaign to ban cluster bombs, many of whose "bombies" fail to explode and lie active for decades awaiting
new victims, see the website of the Cluster Munition Coalition.
Close-up of a "bombie" and the ball-bearings it contains, designed to shred any human flesh within hundreds
of metres of the explosion. Laotian children, especially young boys, often dare each other to try to crack open the "bombies"
to use the pellets in their slingshots. A really, really bad idea.
All photos copyright 2009 by Adam Jones, unless otherwise indicated. These images may be freely used for educational and other non-commercial purposes, if the author is credited and notified. For commercial use, please contact the author. All photos are available in high-resolution versions suitable for print publication.