SEA Games: Laos, Hmong Arrested Prior To SEAG of Concern to Amnesty International

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Amnesty International, and other international organizations and institutions, including the European Parliament, are calling for the immediate release of the Laotian political dissidents and protesters," said Philip Smith of the CPPA in Washington, D.C. "These Laotians arrested and imprisoned by the LPDR military regime prior to the SEA Games are clearly prisoner of conscience..."

( - Washington, D.C., Bangkok, Thailand and Vientiane, Laos - December 9,
2009 - Amnesty International has issued a public statement and appeal on the crisis facing Laotians jailed by Lao military and security officials on November 2, 2009, and its aftermath. Over one-thousand Laotian and Hmong political and religious dissidents, protesters and activists, as well as ordinary Laotians, were arrested in the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) prior to the start of the Southeast Asia Games in Laos ( SEA Games ). The Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) has also issued recent statements about the crisis facing Lao and Hmong political and religious dissidents and protesters in the LPDR as well as thousands of Lao Hmong refugees facing forced repatriation from Thailand to Laos.

“This year Laos is host for the Southeast Asian Games, a regional bi-annual sports event. The authorities have carried out meticulous preparations, but the recent arrests and enforced disappearances of peaceful petitioners risks tarnishing the occasion,” Amnesty International said in a December 7 public statement.

“Amnesty International, and other international organizations and institutions, including the European Parliament, are calling for the immediate release of the Laotian political dissidents and protesters,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C. “These Laotians arrested and imprisoned by the LPDR military regime prior to the SEA Games are clearly prisoner of conscience as Amnesty International and others have rightly pointed out.”

Smith explained: “Out of the various political and religious dissident, activist and protest groups of Laotians, some as large as 300, who were seeking reform and change in the communist nation in November of 2009, Amnesty International has express concern that at least nine Laotians ( 9 ) continue to be imprisoned for seeking to peacefully protest in the LPDR. The Laotian groups from Vientiane as well as other parts of Laos were seeking change and reforms in Laos, including expressing solidarity and concerns about imprisoned Lao students, religious persecution, the military intervention of Vietnam security forces and troops from Hanoi, and very high-levels of corruption by the one-party military regime in the LPDR.”

“Amnesty International calls on the Lao authorities to release, immediately and unconditionally nine peaceful protesters who have gone missing since their arrest on 2 November 2009. Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience, arrested solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression…” Amnesty said in its recent public announcement.

“The nine should never have been arrested in the first place, let alone subjected to enforced disappearance. They are at high risk of torture or other ill-treatment. The Lao authorities must make their whereabouts known immediately and guarantee their safety…” Amnesty stated.

“The nine people, reportedly identified by the authorities as “leaders”, were first taken to Samkhe Prison in Vientiane, but according to information provided to Amnesty International, a special unit of the armed forces has since moved them to unknown locations. Sources in Laos have reported that family members have not been able to contact them since they were moved from Samkhe prison. They include two women, Kingkeo and Somchit, and seven men, Soubinh, Souane, Sinpasong, Khamsone, Nou, Somkhit and Sourigna,” Amnesty International continued in their public announcement.

“These recent arrests and disappearances have taken place within days of the 10-year anniversary of the last known attempt to stage a public peaceful protest in Vientiane in October 1999. At least three former students arrested at that time remain imprisoned today, while one died in detention following torture by prison guards. Since then, the Lao authorities have continued to deny its citizens the rights to peaceful protest and assembly guaranteed under international human rights law,” the Amnesty statement explained.

Amnesty International explained further in its public announcement: “Enforced disappearance is a human rights violation and a crime under international law. In addition, it violate a wide range of other human rights: the right to liberty and security of person; the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to be recognized as a person before the law; as well as the rights to fair trial and to family life. Ultimately, it can violate the right to life, as victims of enforced disappearance are often killed…Since the first arrests in early November, Amnesty International has received unconfirmed reports about more petitioners taken into custody in Vientiane and other provinces.”

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the European Parliament, Doctors Without Borders ( MSF ), the United Nations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR ), the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom ( USCIRF ), Freedom House, the Foreign Prisoners Support Service ( FPSS ), Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR ), the Lao Students Movment for Democacy ( LSMD ), the United League for Democracy in Laos ( ULDL ), Lao Hmong Human Rights Council ( LHHRC ), the Laos Institute for Democracy ( LIFD ), Lao Veterans of America, Inc. ( LVA ), Lao Veterans of America Institute ( LVAI ), Hmong Human Rights ( HHR ), Hmong Advance, Inc. ( HA ), Hmong Advancement, Inc. ( HAI ) and others have raised repeated concerns about human rights violations in Laos and the plight of Lao and Hmong refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand and Laos facing persecution.

Over 5,100 Lao Hmong political refugees are facing now facing abusive and violent forced repatriation from Ban Huay Nam Khao, in Petchabun Province, and Nong Khai, Thailand back to the LPDR communist regime in Laos they fled.

Many Laotian and Hmong Americans, as well as overseas Laotians, are boycotting the SEA Games in protest to the recent crackdown and arrests in Laos.


Contact: Ms. Maria Gomez or Mr. Juan Lopez

Tele. ( 202 )543-1444

Center for Public Policy Analysis
2020 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Suite No. # 212
Washington, DC 20006


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