November 3, 2013

Call on Laotian people to save our Land, Very Soon Mekong dam will destroying the region’s lifeblood

Help Us Save the Mekong River!

Our River feeds Millions

The Mekong River is under threat. The governments of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are considering plans to build 11 big hydropower dams on the river's mainstream

Mekong Dams: Opposition Grows to Laos’ Mega Dams

Key Issues:
Xayaburi, Don Sahong, and Lower Mekong Mainstream Dams

A renewed push to build hydropower dams on the lower Mekong mainstream is threatening the river’s ecosystems, aquatic resources and the fishery-dependent livelihoods of millions of people.

แม่น้ำโขง

แม่น้ำโขง – สายน้ำที่ยาวที่สุดในอุษาคเนย์ และยาวเป็นอันดับสิบของโลก จากต้นกำเนิดบริเวณเทือกเขาหิมาลัย แม่น้ำโขงไหลผ่านถึง 6 ประเทศ จากที่ราบสูงทิเบต ผ่านภาคตะวันตกเฉียงใต้ทางมณฑลยูนนาน ประเทศจีน ไหลสู่ พม่า ลาว ไทย กัมพูชา ก่อนจะออกสู่ทะเลจีนใต้ที่ดินดอนสามเหลี่ยมปากแม่น้ำประเทศเวียดนาม รวมความยาวทั้งสิ้น 4,909 กิโลเมตร

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.terraper.org/mainpage/key_issues_detail_en.php?kid=8&langs=en

The international community should not let the Lao government get away with such a blatant violation of international law. We are calling on donor governments and the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to take a firm stand against Laos. 

More information from http://www.internationalrivers.org/
“The international community should not let the Lao government get away with such a blatant violation of international law,” said Ms. Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Program Director for International Rivers. “We are calling on donor governments and the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to take a firm stand against Laos. The Xayaburi Dam is the first of a cascade of devastating mainstream dams that will severely undermine the region’s development efforts. The food security and jobs of millions of people in the region are now on the line.”
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Xayaburi Construction’s Photo

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/multimedia/photo/257475/laos-river-life/embed

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/236558/activists-call-to-scrap-lao-dam-project

Activists are unhappy with Laos’ pledge to study the environmental effects of the controversial Xayaburi hydro dam.  Click for more

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/laos-evades-responsibility-with-dam-construction-30193861.html

Ame Trandem, Pianporn Deetes
November 8, 2012 1:00 am

In clear defiance of its neighbours and a regional agreement, the Lao government announced that it would hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the Xayaburi Dam site on the Mekong River on Wednesday, November 7. Viraphonh Viravong, Laos’ deputy minister of energy and mining, said “It has been assessed, it has been discussed the last two years. We have addressed most of the concerns.
After the ceremony, the project developers are expected to begin construction on the cofferdam, which diverts the river while the permanent dam wall is built. The cofferdam is expected to be completed by May 2013.

The international community should not let the Lao government get away with such a blatant violation of international law. We are calling on donor governments and the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to take a firm stand against Laos.

The Xayaburi Dam is the first of a cascade of devastating mainstream dams that will severely undermine the region’s development efforts. The food security and jobs of millions of people in the region are now on the line.

Construction activities at the dam site began in late 2010. In April 2011 the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments asked the Lao government for further studies on the project’s trans-boundary effects. In December 2011 the four governments of the Mekong River Commission met and agreed to conduct further studies on the effects of the Xayaburi Dam and 10 other proposed mainstream dams. To date, no regional agreement has been made to build the Xayaburi Dam despite the 1995 Mekong Agreement’s requirement that the governments of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos cooperate and seek joint agreement on mainstream projects.

Laos said it would cooperate with neighbouring countries, but this was never genuine. Instead, the project always continued on schedule and was never actually delayed. None of Vietnam and Cambodia’s environmental and social concerns have been taken seriously. Laos has never even collected basic information about the ways that people depend on the river, so how can it say that there will be no impacts?

On October 22, Vietnam’s minister of natural resources and environment met the Lao prime minister and requested that all construction on the Xayaburi Dam be stopped until necessary studies to assess the effects of Mekong mainstream dams were first carried out.

Laos continues to deny that the dam will have trans boundary impacts and is applying the recommended mitigation measures made by Finnish consulting company Poyry and French company Compagnie Nationale du Rhone, despite the fact that the project has never carried out a trans-boundary impact assessment. The Cambodian government, Vietnamese government, and scientists throughout the Mekong region have disagreed with the work of these companies.

Laos is playing roulette with the Mekong River, offering unproven solutions and opening up the Mekong as a testing ground for new technologies. When the Mekong River Commission stays quiet and tolerates one country risking the sustainability of the Mekong River and all future trans-boundary cooperation, something is seriously wrong.

As Thai companies serve as the project’s developers and financers, and the Thai government will purchase the bulk of the Xayaburi Dam’s electricity, Thailand has the responsibility to call for a stop to construction immediately and cancel its power purchase agreement until there is regional agreement to build the dam. This move by Laos sets a dangerous precedent for the future of the Mekong region. If Laos is allowed to proceed unhindered, then in the future all member governments will proceed unilaterally on projects on the Mekong River. The Mekong Agreement will become yet another useless piece of paper.

Unless the Mekong dam crisis is tackled immediately, the future of the region is in great danger. With the Asian and European heads of states gathered in Vientiane, Laos for the Asem Summit, it’s time that the international community takes a strong stand and makes it clear that such actions by Laos will not be tolerated.

Ame Trandem is Southeast Asia programme director, International Rivers. Pianporn Deetes is Thailand campaign coordinator, International Rivers.

http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/laos-evades-responsibility-and-plows-ahead-with-xayaburi-dam-7714

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Credits: International Rivers

April 14, 2014

Lao New Year

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 11, 2014

On behalf of President Obama I am delighted to extend my greetings to the people of Laos on the occasion of the Lao New Year.

The American people join you in the spirit of hope, celebration, joy, and renewal. May the New Year bring prosperity to Lao people all around the world.

The New Year is a time of great opportunity and expectation and I hope this year will provide even greater opportunities to work together and enrich the important friendship between Laos and the United States.

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/04/224681.htm

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April 14, 2014

 

Thai New Year

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 11, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, it is my great pleasure to extend New Year’s greetings to the people of Thailand. I hope this Songkran provides all Thais an occasion to spend an enjoyable time with family and friends and to look forward to good luck and prosperity in the New Year.

We are proud to mark another year in the enduring friendship between Thailand and the United States. Our nations enjoy an unshakable bond that transcends politics in either of our countries, and we look forward to working together in the New Year on important issues such as trade relations, health research, security cooperation, and educational exchange.

I look forward to the opportunities that the New Year holds for both of our nations and for our alliance. I wish you a happy and healthy Songkran!

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/04/224679.htm

April 14, 2014

U.S. State Department: Happy New Year’s Bengal, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand

 

Happy New Year’s Bengal, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his well wishes to South and Southeast Asian countries celebrating New Year’s.
By JC Finley   |   April 14, 2014 at 12:44 PM   |

WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI)The U.S. Department of State wished the people of Bengal, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand a Happy New Year.

  • Secretary of State John Kerry sent the following message to Bengali communities on their April 14 New Year’s Day:

“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send warmest greetings to Bengali communities around the world as you celebrate Pahela Boishakh.”The United States joins you in celebrating the vibrant history and culture of the Bengali-speaking people. Your rich cultural heritage, from food and song to poetry, art, and literature has greatly enriched our own.

“As you gather with family and friends to celebrate the New Year, know that the United States stands with you as a partner and friend. Shubho Nobo Borsho!”

  • Kerry sent the following message to Cambodians:

“On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I am delighted to send best wishes to the Cambodian people as you celebrate the Khmer New Year starting on April 14.”Since my time as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee I have been strongly committed to helping the Cambodian people build a better tomorrow for future generations. I believe the path to a better tomorrow includes addressing the atrocities of Cambodia’s past and building a more democratic future.

“The United States and Cambodia share common interests in promoting regional stability, fostering economic development, and improving health and education in Cambodia. And we look forward to strengthening our partnership in the years to come.

“I wish your country peace, prosperity and a joyful New Year celebration.”

  • To the country of Laos, which celebrates New Year’s from April 14-16, Kerry wrote:

“On behalf of President Obama I am delighted to extend my greetings to the people of Laos on the occasion of the Lao New Year.”The American people join you in the spirit of hope, celebration, joy, and renewal. May the New Year bring prosperity to Lao people all around the world.

“The New Year is a time of great opportunity and expectation and I hope this year will provide even greater opportunities to work together and enrich the important friendship between Laos and the United States.”

  • Kerry wished the people of Myanmar well in peace and democracy efforts as they celebrate New Year on April 17.

“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to congratulate and send best wishes to the people of Myanmar on the occasion of Thingyan.”The United States is committed to working in partnership to help your country realize the promise of peace, democracy, expanded economic opportunity and justice for everyone in your country. We cherish the hope that your work to achieve a historic ceasefire and political dialogue will be the basis for national harmony and a shared vision for the future.

“Your leadership as ASEAN Chair demonstrates your increasing impact in the region, and showcases your country’s progress and potential.

“As you gather with family, friends, and neighbors to honor your rich traditions and culture with prayer, celebration and renewal, know that the people of the United States send their best wishes for a peaceful and happy New Year.”

  • Kerry wished the Nepalese prosperity and joy during their April 12-15 celebration.

“On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I offer the people of Nepal best wishes for a prosperous and joyful New Year.”Nepal has achieved important milestones this past year, including the democratic election of a new Constituent Assembly.

“I hope that the coming year will bring further progress towards enduring political stability and the full completion of a new constitution, keeping your country on the path of prosperity and peace.

“Naya Barshako Shubha-Kamana!”

  • To Sri Lankans, who celebrate New Year’s on April 14, Kerry sent the following message:

“On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I offer warmest greetings to the people of Sri Lanka and the vibrant global Sri Lankan diaspora.”This New Year brings a new opportunity for all Sri Lankans to join together in the spirit of tolerance, reconciliation, and peace. As Sri Lankans gather to mark the potential of the New Year, we join in celebrating with you.

“As you continue your work to build a prosperous, democratic Sri Lanka, I offer my best wishes for a safe and happy holiday and a prosperous, peaceful year ahead.”

  • Kerry extended New Year’s greeting to Thailand, whose New Year’s celebrations began on April 13 and conclude on April 15:

“On behalf of President Obama and the American people, it is my great pleasure to extend New Year’s greetings to the people of Thailand. I hope this Songkran provides all Thais an occasion to spend an enjoyable time with family and friends and to look forward to good luck and prosperity in the New Year.”We are proud to mark another year in the enduring friendship between Thailand and the United States. Our nations enjoy an unshakable bond that transcends politics in either of our countries, and we look forward to working together in the New Year on important issues such as trade relations, health research, security cooperation, and educational exchange.

“I look forward to the opportunities that the New Year holds for both of our nations and for our alliance. I wish you a happy and healthy Songkran!

[State Department]

April 14, 2014

Enemies of the Internet

Worl day against Cyber censorship

Enemies of the Internet 2014: entities at the heart of censorship and surveillance

Natalia Radzina of Charter97, a Belarusian news website whose criticism of the government is often censored, was attending an OSCE-organized conference in Vienna on the Internet and media freedom in February 2013 when she ran into someone she would rather not have seen: a member of the Operations and Analysis Centre, a Belarusian government unit that coordinates Internet surveillance and censorship. It is entities like this, little known but often at the heart of surveillance and censorship systems in many countries, that Reporters Without Borders is spotlighting in this year’s Enemies of the Internet report, which it is releasing, as usual, on World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (12 March).  Read more

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://12mars.rsf.org/2014-en/enemies-of-the-internet-2014-entities-at-the-heart-of-censorship-and-surveillance/

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Thailand

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  https://en.rsf.org/thailand-12-03-2012,42054.html

français

Published on Monday 12 March 2012. Updated on Wednesday 23 January 2013.

The status of Thailand’s online freedom of expression began to deteriorate from the moment the new Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra assumed power in July 2011. Abusive recourse to the politically exploited lèse-majesté law has led to an increase in litigations and strict censorship. The sentencing of Ampon Tangnoppakul, known as ”Uncle SMS” set off a chain of heated reactions in the country and abroad. Apparently the government has forgotten its promises to amend Article 112 of the Thailand Penal Code.

New government’s gloomy record in terms of Internet freedom

When she took her oath of office on August 10, 2011, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra vowed that “the lèse-majesté laws [should] not [be] used inappropriately.” This statement was contradicted on August 26, 2011 by Vice Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who has made the fight against lèse-majesté crimes his priority.

Since taking office, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government has shown itself to be worse than its predecessor in terms of Web filtering. After assuming his position as Thailand’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Anudith Nakornthap ordered the blocking of 60,000 Web pages in less than three months, as opposed to 70,000 in the preceding three years. In his view, this was proof of the government’s loyalty to the King. According to the Bangkok Post, the rising number of blocked URLs is tied to the increasingly common use of social networks and to their capacity for disseminating information. The Minister claims that, unlike when previous officials in his Ministry asked ISPs to block sites on court order, he now directly asks ISPs and administrators of websites hosted abroad to close sites or block them so that “objectionable” content can no longer be accessible to those living abroad. The Minister made his statements in the context of December 1, 2011 inauguration of the Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC).

Based on photocopies of official documents shared by Mahidol University’s Kwanravee Wangudom Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies between January and October 2011, 122 lèse-majesté cases (which may or may not have been prosecuted) were reviewed by courts of first instance, eight reviewed by appeal courts, and three by the Supreme Court.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has announced that Net surveillance will be strengthened in the name of lèse-majesté laws, in order to enforce such control 24/ hours/day. The government plans to invest about USD 13 million in Net filtering to block sites guilty of lèse-majesté.

Another example of the abusive use of lèse-majesté laws and their consequences is the announcement by the authorities that if netizens visiting Facebook merely click on the buttons “like” or “share“ linked to content that potentially violates lèse-majesté laws, they could be prosecuted.

Countless legal proceedings against netizens for lèse-majesté crimes

On December 8, 2011, blogger Joe Gordon was sentenced by a Bangkok court to two and one-half years in prison on lèse-majesté charges for translating on his blog excerpts of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s banned biography by Paul Handley, entitled “The King never smiles.” This Thai-born American pleaded guilty in the hopes of a royal pardon.

Ampon Tangnoppakul, also known as ”Uncle SMS,” received a 20-year sentence on November 23, 2011 for sending text messages deemed to be “insulting the monarchy,” but he denied having sent them. His case aroused strong reactions in the country. It was the first time that the Thai media covered this topic in-depth. Angry international criticism also arose, mainly from the United States and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights claiming that the lèse-majesté law had a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression.

The trial of the Prachatai news website editor Chiranuch Premchaiporn, better know by her pen name Jiew, resumed in Bangkok on February 14, 2012. The five witnesses presented by the defense were heard by the capital’s court of assizes, which announced on February 16 that the verdict would be rendered on April 30, 2012. Charged with violating Article 15 of the Computer Crimes Act and paragraph 112 of the Thailand Penal Code, Chiranuch faces a possible 20-year jail sentence for not removing comments “insulting to the monarchy” posted on the Prachatai site quickly enough. (Read Reporters Without Borders’ previous press releases about this case.)

This trial has helped to clarify the responsibility of technical intermediaries. The first witnesses for the defense helped Jiew’s case, according to her lawyer. At the conclusion of the February 14 hearing, Prachatai’s editor shared her satisfaction with Reporters Without Borders over the fact that the court had heard the defense witnesses.

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, former editor of the magazine Voice of Thaksin, banned since 2010, has been held on remand for seven months for “insulting the monarchy.”

Several netizens are still incarcerated for lèse-majesté crimes. Surapak Phuchaisaeng is still awaiting a verdict in his prosecution for messages he posted on Facebook. Thanthawut Thaweewarodomkul was sentenced on March 15, 2011 to 13 years in prison for articles he published on a website linked to the “Red Shirts”: Nor Por Chor USA. Student blogger Norawase Yotpiyasathien, who was arrested on August 5, 2011, was finally released on bail three days later. Akechai Hongkangwarn and Wiphat Raksakunthai were released on probation while awaiting their trial.

Lèse-majesté debate more bitter over “Campaign 112”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRCT), set up under the previous government advocated a lèse-majesté law reform in January 2012, deeming the existing one “too harsh.” Thailand’s powerful army Commander-in-Chief General Prayut Chan-ocha judged such reform unnecessary and induced the critics to leave the country.

An academic initiative to revise the lèse-majesté law caused a political uproar. Ignoring pressure, the Nitirat Group composed of seven law scholars from Thammasat began to collect signatures three weeks ago in order to submit a petition to relax the laws protecting the monarchy – which angered the army’s Commander. The university had prohibited the group from using its offices to work on this project, citing the risk of violence, but then reconsidered. This ban had created considerable tension, with student groups demonstrating for and against the group’s activities.

Early in 2012, 224 scholars from all over the world, including Noam Chomsky and Paul Handley, published an open letter supporting the proposal of an amendment to the lèse-majesté law (Article 112 of the Thailand Penal Code) and the Nitirat Group spearheading the reform. Article 112 was denounced as “a powerful way to silence political dissidence.”

The Thai government has distanced itself from this initiative, stating that it does not want to modify Article 112. The House of Representatives could block the debate, even if the required number of signatures has been reached.

Localized censorship

Thailand was the first country to express satisfaction over Twitter’s adoption of new rules making it legal to block content on a nationwide scale. The Minister of Information and Communications Technology declared that he would work with Twitter to make certain that tweets disseminated in Thailand comply with local laws. Twitter’s executives be prepared to receive many requests for tweets to be removed.

Other than for monarchy-related issues, the media are relatively free in Thailand. Yet there is a persistent and growing threat of litigation for lèse-majesté crimes and related self-censorship. Any form of dissidence can now be interpreted as disloyalty to the monarchy. The country seems set on an endless course to purge the Web of any content closely or remotely linked to lèse-majesté. This repressive and doomed approach can only further divide the population and erode national cohesion.

 

 

 

April 14, 2014

Vietnam: Two netizens released from prison, 31 others still held

Two netizens released from prison, 31 others still held

Français

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  https://en.rsf.org/vietnam-two-netizens-released-from-prison-14-04-2014,46148.html

Published on Monday 14 April 2014.

Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that two netizens who had spent several years in prison – Vi Duc Hoi and Nguyen Tien Trung – were released on 11 and 12 April respectively although they are now assigned to a form of house arrest.

Arrested in October 2010, Hoi was sentenced in 2011 to five years in prison on a charge of anti-government propaganda under article 88 of the 1999 penal code for writing articles critical of the state. A former Communist Party official who ran a training centre in the northern province of Lang Son, he is now due to spend three years under house arrest.

He reportedly rejected the conditions originally imposed for his release from prison, namely abstention from any political activity aimed at promoting democracy and from writing articles expressing his views. The official reason for softening the terms of his release has not been given.

Trung was arrested in July 2009 on charges of anti-government propaganda and “subverting the people’s administration,” and was sentenced to seven years in prison under article 79 of the penal code. He should have been released from prison in January 2015 in order to begin a period of house arrest.

“While the release of these two netizens from prison is good news, only their full freedom would be satisfactory,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. “Above all, we call on the authorities to release the 31 netizens who remain in prison in violation of their fundamental rights.

“The government should take account of all the recommendations made when the UN Human Rights Council examined the situation of human rights in Vietnam in February, and should repeal all of the legislative articles that are systematically used to jail independent news providers.”

Democracy activists (from left) Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, 43, blogger Nguyen Tien Trung, 26, Le Thang Long, 42, and Le Cong Dinh, 41, stand during their trial at Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court House, Ho Chi Minh, January 20, 2010. — AFP pic

Two other bloggers have been freed in recent weeks. Dinh Dang Dinh, who was jailed in 2011 for launching a petition against a bauxite mine project, was released on 21 March but died on 3 April of stomach cancer, which was not treated while he was in prison.

Cu Huy Ha Vu was released on condition that he agree to go into exile and immediately flew to the United States. He was sentenced in 2011 to seven years in prison on a charge of anti-government propaganda after trying to bring a legal action against Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in connection with a bauxite mining project.

Vietnam is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. It is also classified as an Enemy of the Internet because of its crackdown on bloggers and cyber-dissidents.

 

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Worl day against Cyber censorship

Enemies of the Internet 2014: entities at the heart of censorship and surveillance

Natalia Radzina of Charter97, a Belarusian news website whose criticism of the government is often censored, was attending an OSCE-organized conference in Vienna on the Internet and media freedom in February 2013 when she ran into someone she would rather not have seen: a member of the Operations and Analysis Centre, a Belarusian government unit that coordinates Internet surveillance and censorship. It is entities like this, little known but often at the heart of surveillance and censorship systems in many countries, that Reporters Without Borders is spotlighting in this year’s Enemies of the Internet report, which it is releasing, as usual, on World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (12 March).  Read more

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://12mars.rsf.org/2014-en/enemies-of-the-internet-2014-entities-at-the-heart-of-censorship-and-surveillance/

 

 

 

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