Friday, August 7, 2009
06.08.2009 19:14:43 “Hopefully, Samantha Orobator’s release will be a reminder to the world and human rights community about the Lao student pro-democracy leaders, American and British citizens and Hmong from the United States and Thailand who continue to be imprisoned in Laos,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA). “Many people have disappeared into the secret Lao gulag and penal system.”
(live-PR.com) - Washington, D.C. and Bangkok, Thailand, August 6, 2009
British citizen Samantha Orobator’s release today from the notorious Phonthong Prison in Laos by the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR), and return to the United Kingdom, underscores international concerns about the secret Laos’ prison and gulag system. Hundreds of foreigners as well as political and religious dissidents continue to be held in harsh conditions without charge, or without due process, in the LPDR, including three (3) American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota, arrested in 2007.
“Hopefully, Samantha Orobator’s release will be a reminder to the world and human rights community about the Lao student pro-democracy leaders, American and British citizens and Hmong from the United States and Thailand who continue to be imprisoned in Laos,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA). “Many people have disappeared into the secret Lao gulag and penal system.”
“Freedom House, an non-governmental organization, has issued an important report detailing political oppression in Laos and the LPDR regime’s egregious human rights record, including its lack of civil rights and the non-independence of its judicial system, which is controlled by the Communist party and subject to severe corruption,” Smith said.
“Today, Ms. Samantha Orobator’s release from Laos, after high-level and intense diplomatic negotiations by the United Kingdom, highlights the ongoing serious plight of those imprisoned and abused in Laos; These include Hakit Yang and two other Hmong American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota as well as Lao student leaders of the October 1999 Movement for Democracy, British citizen John Watson and others; Indeed, much more should be done by the United States, including U.S. Ambassador Ravic Huso, to seek the humane treatment and release of these and other prisoners, dissidents and foreign investors now jailed in Laos.”
In April, Australian author and former political prisoner Kay Danes spoke at a national policy conferences in Colorado, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Congress on the horrific situation that prisoners in Laos face under the LPDR regime. Mrs. Danes’ new book ‘Standing Ground’ was released in the Spring of 2009 about her prison ordeal, along with her husband, in Vientiane, Laos’ infamous Phonthong Prison, where she was jailed and was an eyewitness to torture and unspeakable abuses by LPDR officials and prison guards.
Mrs. Kay Danes was joined in Washington, D.C., by Hmong-American Sheng Xiong, the wife of Mr. Hakit Yang, a U.S. citizen from St. Paul, Minnesota, who was arrested and jailed in Laos in 1997 by LPDR military and security forces along with two (2) additional Hmong- American citizens, in the same group traveling to Laos from St. Paul for tourism and business investment opportunities. Hakit Yang and the three Hmong-American citizens from St. Paul, like Kay Danes and her husband, were also imprisoned in Phonthong Prison.
“I just want answers from the Lao government about where my husband, Hakit Yang, and his two companions from St. Paul, Minnesota, are being held in Laos and what has happened to them,” said Sheng Xiong, a Hmong-American from St. Paul, Minnesota, recently in Washington, D.C.
“We want to know why Hakit Yang and the two other Lao Hmong-Americans from St. Paul, Minnesota, who were arrested and imprisoned in Laos in 2007 have not been released yet by the LPDR regime and we want to know why their families have not been allowed to visit them yet ?” asked Boon Boualaphanh, a member of the Laotian community of Minnesota and a member of the United League for Democracy in Laos (ULDL). “They should be immediately released by the Lao government so they can return to their families in Minnesota.”
Mr. Boualaphanh continued further: “Now, the Lao Community and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the United League for Democracy in Laos also want, and are calling for, the immediate release of Mr. Keuakorm Thongpraseuth who was a student at the demonstrations on October 26, 1999, in Vientiane, Laos in support of democratic and economic change and political reform in Laos. He was arrested by LPDR security police and Lao military forces along with the other student demonstrators in October 1999. Why is still being held in jail in Laos with many of the other students and their families who were peacefully protesting against the corrupt LPDR communist regime and its monopoly on political power ?”
“Indeed, many others who have disappeared in the Lao communist prison, gulag and reeducation system include Mr. Phengphongsavanh and the following Royal Lao generals and officers; Bounpone Marktheppharack, Nonphet Daoheuang, Banlang and Thaoly,” Mr. Boon Bouaaphanh concluded.
Hundreds of Hmong refugees and asylums seekers forcibly repatriated from Thailand back to Laos by the Thai military in 2008, from Huay Nam Khao camp in Petchabun Province, have also been imprisoned, disappeared or have been summarily executed in Laos without due process by the LPDR regime.
Contact: Mr. Juan Lopez
Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA)
2020 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Suite No. #212
Washington, D.C. 20006
Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA)
2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite #212
Washington, DC 20006 United States
Deputy Assistant Communications Director