Friday, August 21, 2009
2009-08-21 17:26:22 - The Lao Students Movement for Democracy (LSMD) has issued an urgent appeal to U.S. Senator Jim Webb ( D-VA ) and the international community for the immediate and unconditional release of imprisoned Lao student pro-democracy leaders of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy of October 1999.
Bangkok, Thailand, Luang Prabang, Laos and Washington, D.C., August 21, 2009
Jailed democracy protesters in Laos, and their families and friends in Virginia and across the United States, are seeking help from Virginia Senator Jim Webb to have them released from jail in Laos where they are being held as political prisoners in harsh conditions. From Laos, Thailand and the United States, the Lao Students Movement for Democracy (LSMD) has issued an urgent appeal to U.S. Senator Jim Webb ( D-VA ) and the international community for the immediate and unconditional release of imprisoned Lao student pro-democracy leaders of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy of October 1999.
"On behalf of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy, movement of October 26, 1999, we are calling upon U.S. Senator Jim Webb to help release these leaders and all political and religious prisoners without conditions and unconditionally," stated Ms. Nouamkham Khamphilavong and Mr. Oudong Saysana of the LSMD in the United States. asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA260042000?open&of=EN ..
“Now, as our Virginia Senator, we the Laotian community in Virginia, and across the United States, are appealing to you, U.S. Senator Jim Webb, to help the Lao Student Leaders of the October 1999 Student Movement for Democracy who should be immediately released from jail in Laos and granted political asylum in a third country such as Canda, Australia, France or the United States said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. in Virginia. “Their families are not even allowed to visit them in Sam Khe Prison in Laos which is not right, since they are innocent political prisoners being held for political reasons in by the LPDR regime in violation of their human rights and dignity
U.S. Senator Jim Webb is visiting Southeast Asia, including the nations of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand. A recent Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) meeting was held in Thailand last month attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Lao Movement for Human Rights in Paris, France, has also repeatedly issued appeals for the release of the Lao student leaders.
Laos, under the LPDR regime, continues to imprison and jail Lao and Hmong political and religious dissidents, three Hmong-American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota ( including Mr. Hakit Yang ), as well as hundreds of Hmong refugees forcibly repatriated to Laos from Ban Huay Nam Khao refugee camp in Thailand in recent months. Many of the Lao and Hmong have disappeared into Sam Khe Prison, Phonthong Prison, the Sam Neua gulag and reeducation camp system and elsewhere into secret prisons and camps in Laos.
Concern about Laotian and Hmong refugees fleeing the LPDR regime in Laos to Thailand was raised by Secretary of State Clinton with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit following concerns raised by Members of Congress including U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), U.S. Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), U.S. Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA), U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), U.S. Congressman Steve Kagen (D-WI), U.S. Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), U.S. Congressman Harold Berman (D-CA) and others.
“The peaceful Lao student leaders who continue to be imprisoned in Laos after leading non-violent protests in support of economic and political reforms in Laos are Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, Seng-Aloun Phenphanh, Bouavanh Chanmanivong and Keochai said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA).
The U.S. Congress unanimously passed legislation, H. Res. 402, in 2004, urging the LPDR government to release the Lao student leaders and to cease its human rights violations against the Laotian and Hmong people. In 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives, in bipartisan fashion, led by Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Frank Wolf and Dana Rohrabacher, introduced H. Res. 1273, which also addressed these issues.
“Unfortunately, Lao student leaders of the LSMD are still being held in terrible conditions as political prisoners in Laos since their arrest in October of 1999 for peacefully demonstrating for political change and reform in the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) in Vientiane, Laos; the LPDR regime remains a corrupt, one-party military regime Smith continued.
Continued Smith further from the Washington, D.C. offices of the CPPA : “Ms. Nouamkham Khamphilavong was one of the Lao student leaders who helped lead peaceful protests for political and economic reform in Laos in October of 1999. After the Lao military and police crackdown on the demonstrators, she fled to Thailand and was helped in being granted political asylum in the United States, thanks to the efforts of key Members of the U.S. Congress and Laotian community leaders.
“Now Nouamkham, and Oudong Saysana, along with the other LSMD leaders who escaped the LPDR government and military attacks against the peaceful demonstrators in Vientiane in 1999, continue to advocate and urge the release of their colleagues and fellow students in Laos still imprisoned in Sam Khe Smith observed.
“Presently, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Lao Students Movement for Democracy, the Foreign Prisoners Support Service and other organizations are continuing to seek to raise awareness of their plight in harsh prison conditions in Laos where the students are being held unjustly by the LPDR regime Smith stated.
“The Lao students are again requesting Senator Jim Webb’s assistance in helping to seek to have their colleagues, and fellow students, in Laos released from the infamous Sam Khe prison in Laos by LPDR officials Smith said in conclusion.
Below are excerpts of the August 2009 statement issued by Ms. Nouamkham Khamphilavong and Mr. Oudong Saysana and the LSMD on behalf of the imprisoned Lao student leaders still being imprisoned in Laos in Sam Khe Prison ( also known as Samkhe Prison ) as political prisoners and prisoners of conscience:
“We remain concerned that four (4) out of eleven of the leaders of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy of October 1999 are still in Samkhe prison, Laos.
Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, Seng-Aloun Phenphanh, Bouavanh Chanmanivong and Keochai are still continued to serve their 10 year sentences in Samkhe prison, while their companion Mr. Khamphouvieng Sisa-At, died in Samkhe prison under torture and deprivations.
On behalf of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy, movement of October 26, 1999, we are calling upon U.S. Senator Jim Webb to help release these leaders and all political and religious prisoners without conditional.
We are also calling on the Lao PDR to respect human rights as guaranteed by the Lao Constitution and the charter of the United Nations ( 1951 Geneva Convention ).
Please be advised that the Laos is Communist State like… Vietnam, and an authoritarian military regime like Burma.
( --- end excerpts of the August 2009 appeal and statement by Ms. Nouamkham Khamphilavong, President of LSMD, and Mr. Oudong Saysana, Executive Director of the LSMD--- )
In February of 2009, the LSMD participated in a Laos National Policy Conference at the National Press Club and U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos held in the U.S. House of Representatives. www.media-newswire.com/release_1088854.html
Nobel Peace Prize nominee, historian and author, Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, and the 15th anniversary of her book “Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos” ( Indiana University Press ), were honored by Lao and Hmong student groups, including the LSMD in February of 2009. Members of Congress, policymakers, current and retired U.S. Administration officials, human rights organizations, veterans groups, and others, also honored and recognized Dr. Hamilton-Merritt and the 15th anniversary of the publication of "Tragic Mountains" by Indiana University Press.
Lao and Hmong student leaders from across the United States, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, California, traveled to Washington, D.C. for the events honoring Dr. Hamilton-Merritt, and the 15th Anniversary of the publication of "Tragic Mountains." They also urged the United States' government, and the new Obama Administration and U.S. Congress, to elevate human rights, humanitarian and refugee issues regarding the suffering Laotian and Hmong people in Laos and Thailand.
Contact: Ms. Maria Gomez
Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA)
2020 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Suite No.#212
Washington, D.C. 20006