"Khanoi" literally means "I Little Slave." It is an
old Lao term a person uses to address him/herself when talking to a superior or somebody who is
highly respected. When the Communist regime took over in 1975, all high-ranking
government officials were imprisoned in re-education camps throughout the country. Prison guards ordered the prisoners to
address themselves as "Khanoi" when talking to them and other prison officials,
regardless of their age or ranks, now that the prisoners were worth next to nothing.
And hence the title of the book "I Little Slave," written by Dr. Bounsang
Khamkeo, a former re-education camp prisoner.
In the book, Dr. Bounsang depicted not only his
experience during the 7 years and 4 months he was incarcerated in the re-education
camp in northern Laos, but also the Lao history before 1973 and after the fall
of the Kingdom of Laos. Dr. Bounsang talked to VOA about his painful and near-death
experience in the camp, summing up his feelings this way: "Every minute, every
second was painful. I was constantly hand-cupped for over a year and half…no
shower, no change during that time. Sometimes, I wanted to die. It would be
nicer to die than to be in that position."
Dr. Bounsang Khamkeo is currently traveling around
the United States to lecture about human rights based on his personal
experience in the Communist Regime and on his book, "I Little Slave" or "Khanoi."
Dr. Bounsang recently gave a lecture at Harvard
Despite all his sufferings and near-death
experience, Dr. Bounsang no longer holds any grudges against the Communist
regime in his homeland. He told VOA that "What was done in the past is already
gone and done with. I don't want it to happen again, I don't want history to repeat
itself. I am also a religious person, I seek no revenge, and I forgive and
forget. I am moving forward now."
What Dr. Bounsang really wants from this book is to have
people understand the history of Laos before and after the Communist takeover, and
for the Lao people to have freedom of speech, enjoy human rights and have
You can order the book "I Little Slave" through amazon.com