Thursday, August 28, 2008
Hmong National Development, Inc. (HND) issued another urgent action appeal today in Washington, D.C. to the Laos Embassy and Lao government calling upon the LPDR military regime in Laos to immediately release the three Hmong-American men, including Mr. Hakit Yang, so that they can be reunited with their families in St. Paul, Minnesota prior to the first anniversary of their arrest and imprisonment in Laos.
(PressZoom) - Washington, D.C. - Today, Hmong National Development, Inc. ( HND ), a national non-profit corporation in Washington, D.C., issued an additional urgent action appeal and raised serious regarding the plight of three ( 3 ) Hmong-Americans from St. Paul, Minnesota who continue to be imprisoned in the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) by military and security forces of the authoritarian one-party communist regime. It called upon the LPDR regime in Laos to immediately and unconditionally release the three Hmong-American men, including Mr. Hakit Yang, so that they can be reunited with their families in St. Paul, Minnesota. The men have families, including wives and children awaiting them in St. Paul, Minnesota.
"These three Hmong-American men from St. Paul, who were U.S. citizens, were traveling to Laos in 2007 as tourists and looking for business opportunities when they were arrested by Lao military and security forces," stated Christy Lee, Executive Director of Hmong National Development, Inc. "We are calling on the Lao government to immediately release these American citizens who were non-political and merely seeking to travel as tourists."
"Sadly, after almost one terribly difficult and long year, the Lao LPDR government, and its military and security services, still continue to offer absolutely no help or factual information regarding the three Hmong-Americans from St. Paul that it arrested and jailed in Laos in 2007," said Jade Her, with the Washington, D.C. office of Hmong National Development, Inc. "The Lao government is covering up the truth about this matter and continues to imprison these Hmong men despite their families efforts to have them released and returned home to Minnesota."
Jade her stated "The Hmong-American community in St. Paul, Minnesota and the United States is calling upon the Lao LPDR government to set these three Hmong American men free so that they can be reunited with their loved ones and families; The LPDR government must respect international law and cease its human rights violations and detention of these three Hmong Americans who are entitled to visits by their families and U.S. Ambassador Huso as well as due process and a fair trial for whatever charges the Lao government may be accusing these imprisoned Americans.
Mrs. Sheng Xiong, the wife of Hakit Yang, and spokesperson for the families of three Hmong-American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota currently being jailed in Laos, made the following statement and appeal to Congress and international policymakers. Mrs. Sheng Xiong's statement was originally presented and read before the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos on Jan. 31, 2008, in the Cannon House Office Building in the U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.
The following is the statement before the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos of Mrs. Sheng Xiong, the wife of Hakit Yang, and spokesperson for the families of three Hmong-American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota currently being jailed in Laos:
"I want to thank Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Congressman Frank Wolf, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives for co-hosting today's U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos in cooperation with Mr. Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis, Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Lao Hmong scholar; Vaughn Vang of the Lao Human Rights Council of Wisconsin and Minnesota; Khamphet Moukdarath of the United League for Democracy in Laos and T. Kumar, Advocacy Director of Amnesty International. I appreciate their leadership on the current human rights crisis in Laos, especially facing the Hmong people, and the serious situation regarding the arrest and imprisonment in Laos of my husband, Hakit Yang, and his two Hmong-American colleagues from St. Paul, Minnesota last year.
The U.S.Government granted Normalized Trade Relations ( NTR ) to Laos in 2005. Today, it encourages citizens to consider foreign investments in the communist state despite the country's atrocious human rights records and the unjustified arrest, jailing and continued detention of three Hmong-American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota including my husband Mr. Hakit Yang.
On July 10, 2007, Hakit Yang, Congshineng Yang and Trillion Yuhaison departed the United States for Laos to pursue business investment opportunities. The men were staying at the #5 Guest House in Phousavan, Laos when they were arrested by secret police forces. They were detained in Phonthong Prison and later transferred to an unknown destination. Several unofficial reports suggest they are being detained in the North of Laos near the Vietnam border.
The last phone call and communication was received from Yuhaison on August 26, 2007 at approximately 9:00 am ( CST ). Yuhaison called Hakit's older brother Xai Yang, and stated that he was calling from a security guard's cell phone and confirmed that all three men had been arrested without warrant. Yuhaison sounded very worried and wanted Xai to contact the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane right away.
A US Embassy staff confirmed with local Lao authorities that three US Citizens were arrested, however, the authorities refused to release any names. According to the U.S. Embassy, the Ministry of Foriegn Affairs could not confirm the situation over the phone, but it appeared they knew about the cases.
The U.S. Embassy contacted the Lao government who denied having any record of the men entering their country and any U.S. Citizens being detained or arrested. Later, the Lao government changed their previous denials and admitted that the men did indeed entered Laos, but allegedly claimed that they had allegedly departed Laos via the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge on August 29, 2007. Despite repeated requests from the US Embassy no departure cards have ever been produced as evidence for their departure. Other documents produced are clearly bogus and fabricated allegedly claiming to support the Lao government's false claims that my husband and the other two departed from Laos to Thailand, which is not factual.
It has been many months since the arrest and disappearance of Hakit Yang, Congshineng Yang and Trillion Yuhaison. To this day, our family has not received any concrete answers from the US Embassy in Laos nor the State Department. I have been in contact with the other men's families and they also have not received any answers.
The US Government and US Embassy have a responsibility to inform US Citizens that there are no real protections in place to safeguard their civil and legal rights. The US Government has failed to properly hold the Laos Government accountable for the disappearance of these US investors.
Hakit, Congshineng, and Trillion represent the first of many US investors and tourists to travel to Laos under the new Normalised Trade Relations agreement but their disappearance clearly proves that no US Citizen is safe in Laos and no US citizen should invest in the current Lao regime until proper protections can be put in place, to safeguard the civil, legal and human rights of all US Citizens traveling to Laos.
I respectfully ask that the US Government and US Embassy in Laos continue to investigate the arrest and disappearance of Hakit, Congshineng, and Trillion and to press the Lao government for humanitarian access to the three U.S. citizens and their unconditional and immediate release.
The Lao government continues to jail my husband and the two other Americans from St. Paul that he was traveling with in clear violation and contempt of international law. Lao and Hmong Americans should not invest in the current regime in Laos, the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic. NTR Trade Status to Laos should be revoked by the U.S. Congress; and, U.S. foreign aid and assistance to the Lao regime should also be cut by the U.S. Congress and U.S. Government completely, including all de-mining funding, until at least such time as my husband Hakit Yang, Congshineng and Trillion, as Hmong-American citizens, are released from prison in Laos and brought home safely to America and their homes and families in St. Paul, Minnesota.
We will not forget and not give up fighting until we have truthful answers and the Lao regime releases Hakit Yang, Congshineng and Trillion. We appeal to the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Government and international community for assistance in pressing the Lao regime to release our family members and restore human rights and freedom to them so that we can be reunited and these American citizens can return home once again from this terrible darkness."
Ms. Laurie Vue
Tele. ( 202 ) 629-0377
Hmong National Development, Inc. ( HND )
Hmong National Development, Inc. ( HND ) is a national, non-profit organization incorporated in the Washington, D.C.
It was established in the Washington, D.C. metro area in 1991 and incorporated in the District of Columbia. For more information call ( 202 ) 629-0377 or visit us on the web at: