Dispute over Hmong New Year celebration continues

FRESNO, Calif.

The smaller of the two events, put on by UHC, was canceled this year.

For two years, two Hmong groups have argued over who has the rights to throw the Hmong New Year celebration at the Fresno Fairgrounds.

The fighting began after General Vang Pao died and will continue now in a court of appeals even as one group celebrates the New Year in two days.

A meeting hall was packed Sunday as dozens from the United Hmong Council listened to group leaders explain why they are suing the Hmong International New Year Foundation over rights to the incredibly popular celebration.

"We have been trying to sort this out through the Hmong leadership circles. It has been exhausted, that's why we elected this litigation. Hope the court of law will sort this out," Eugene Her of the United Hmong Council said.

UHV leaders claim the New Year Foundation is not being transparent with its earnings.

A law suit filed last year alleged the foundation allowed revenue from the events to be used for personal profit.

The foundation says that suit was thrown out but the UHC is appealing.

"I feel that they don't know where they stand. And they want to take away something that not belong to them," Pao Fang said.

Right now the foundation puts on the New Year celebration in Southeast Fresno. About 200 thousand people show up for the annual ceremonies.

The group says it's confident it will keep the rights to the event.

And since the fighting began, UHC has held it's own much smaller New Year event at the Jensen Sports Complex.

This year that event is no more.

"A lot of people, supporters are sad to learn that the contract was unexpectedly canceled," Her said.

A similar fight happened 16 years ago, dividing the Fresno Hmong community in two. A lawsuit then helped bring the groups back together.

A group of Hmong leaders from across the country is also in the Valley. It will be holding a news conference in front of the General Van Pao memorial at the fairgrounds calling for both factions to work out their differences.

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