October 27, 2011, Vientiane, Laos, Bangkok, Thailand, Washington, D.C. and Paris, France
Center for Public Policy Analysis
In solemn memory of the 12th anniversary of peaceful student demonstrations in Vientiane, Laos, a coalition of non-governmental organizations are calling for the immediate release of Lao student leaders who continue to be imprisoned in harsh conditions, without charge, for over a decade. The . Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) was joined by the Lao Movement for Human Rights [(Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l’Homme (MLDH)], United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc., Lao Students Movement for Democracy, Lao Veterans of America Institute, Lao Veterans of America, Hmong Advance, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc . and other non-governmental organizations in calling on the one-party authoritarian government in Laos to release the Lao student leaders and other Laotian and Hmong political prisoners, prisoners of conscience and refugees. Events were held in Washington, D.C., Paris, France and Bangkok, Thailand to mark the occasion. The organizations have issued a joint international appeal today.
The Lao student demonstrations held 12 years ago on October 26, 1999, sparked major calls for political, economic and institutional reform in Vientiane, the capital, and throughout the nation of Laos. Ten years later, follow-on demonstrations were held in Laos in October 2009 that also resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of many Laotian protesters demonstrating against the one-party government.
“The Stalinist regime in Laos should immediately release all of the Lao student protestors as well as ethnic Hmong refugees and religious and political dissidents it continues to brutally imprison and persecute,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) at events held in the U.S. Congress today to mark the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the Lao military crackdown.
“We want the military regime in Laos and the communist officials to release all of the peaceful Lao student demonstrators and other innocent religious believers and political prisoners it has placed in jail without charges or trial,” said Bouthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc.
“The Lao people need freedom and democracy and want Vietnam’s military troops and secret police out of Laos,” said Bounleuam Boualaphanh, President of United Lao for Human Rights and Democracy, Inc. of Minnesota. “We want the Lao government to change and reform and to release the Lao student leaders who peacefully protested in support of human rights and democracy for Laos.”
“It is time for the military and communist party leaders of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) to release the Lao students because the peaceful demonstrations sought to help the nation and because the Lao student leaders arrested and young people are the future of the country,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute.
The Paris-based Lao Movement for Human Rights [(Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l’Homme (MLDH)] said in a statement read at the Capitol Hill anniversary events in Washington: “4380 days after their arrest, the four human rights defenders of the Student Movement of 26 October 1999 remain in detention. The Lao Movement for Human Rights expresses its extreme concern about the prolonged arbitrary detention of four members of the Student Movement of 26 October 1999, a group that tried to organize a peaceful march in Vientiane to claim for social justice, human rights respect and democratic reforms.”
“Twelve years after their arrest, MM. Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, Seng-Aloun Phengphanh, and Bouavanh Chanmanivong Keochay are still jailed in the prison of Samkhe, in the province of Vientiane, whereas Mr. Sisa-At Khamphouvieng died in prison from torture in 2001,” the MLDH, Lao Movement for Human Rights organization stated.
The MLDH continued: “ (we are) highly worried by their plight …as during the final adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Laos at the UN in September 2010, the LPDR had totally ignored the recommendation ‘to release those detained for participating in peaceful demonstrations, including the leaders of the Movement of 26 October 1999, and rejected the primary recommendation for the creation of an independent national commission on human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles.’”
The MLDH stated further: “In accordance with Article 5 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ratified by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in September 2009, the prisoners must be treated in compliance with international human rights standards. The arrest of peaceful protesters, and the death of one of them in detention show the failure of the Lao government in the implementation of the international human rights instruments it has ratified.”
The MLDH statement concluded: “The Lao Movement for Human Rights urges to the international community – including the European Union and its Member States, the United Nations, the United States, Japan, Australia and ASEAN – to take urgent, concrete and concerted actions so that the Lao government applies the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as other international agreements related to the United Nations declaration of 1988 on human rights defenders and proceed to the immediate and unconditional release of MM. Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, Seng-Aloun Phengphanh, Bouavanh Chanmanivong and Keochay and also those arrested on 2 November 2009 – Ms. Kingkèo (39), MM. Soubinh (35), Souane (50), Sinpasong (43) and Khamsone (36) arrested in Phon Hong, M. Nou (54) arrested in Pakkading, Miss Somchit (29), MM. Somkhit (28 years) and Sourigna (26), arrested in Vientiane – while they were heading to Vientiane to claim for social justice and basic human
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