Archive for ‘Democracy/Freedom’

August 16, 2014

10th Years Anniversary Celebration of Lao Heritage and Freedom Flag!

Congratulation to 10th years Anniversary Celebration of Lao Heritage and Freedom Flag!

And Congratulation to Lao-American Community of Massachusetts (Lowell)

Lowell, Massachusetts.  It is an honor to speak on behalf of Brothers and Sisters Lao Community, and to Lao-American Community as a whole for the success of 10th years Anniversary Celebration of Lao Heritage and Freedom Flag Raising (Sat. Aug. 16, 2014 in front of the Lowell City Hall) with important recognition the freedom of speech, freedom of justice and freedom of practice democracy and the national “Recognition.” (Aug. 10, 2004).

20140816_083234 20140816_083319 20140816_090817 20140816_090826 20140816_094925 20140816_094926 20140816_094932 20140816_094934 20140816_094936 20140816_094948 20140816_094950 20140816_094953 20140816_094957 20140816_104435 20140816_104542 20140816_110609 20140816_110611 20140816_110613

Photos courtesy of Manothay M Naovarangsy, August 16, 2014.

July 1, 2014

Hong Kong: Democracy rally ‘draws 510,000 protesters’

BBC News - Asia

Hong Kong: Democracy rally ‘draws 510,000 protesters’

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Tens of thousands of residents joined the annual pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
The demonstration brought large parts of Hong Kong to a standstill

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken part in what organisers say could be Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy rally in a decade.

Organisers said turnout was 510,000, while police said about 98,600 took part during the peak of the march.

The annual rally, marking the day Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, was to demand full electoral freedom.

It came after an unofficial referendum on how to choose Hong Kong’s next chief executive drew close to 800,000 votes.

China says it will introduce universal suffrage for the 2017 election – but wants the final say over who can run.

The Hong Kong government said the 10-day referendum had no legal standing.

BBC-Hong Kong

Organisers were hoping more than half a million people would attend, as Juliana Liu reports

While organisers put the number of those joining Monday’s rally from Victoria Park to the city’s Central district at more than half a million, the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme estimated a turnout of between 154,000 and 172,000.

The organisers’ figure would make the march the largest since 2004, when 530,000 were estimated to have taken part in a pro-democracy demonstration.

The annual 1 July rally first gained prominence in 2003, when half a million people demonstrated against proposed anti-subversion laws which were later scrapped.


‘Unauthorised sit-in’

Roads around Victoria Park were closed off and footage showed key roads jammed with marchers.

Reports said protesters were still in the park as the first marchers arrived in the Central district four hours later, giving an idea of the scale of the rally.

Security was tight, with about 4,000 police officers on patrol.

After the march, hundreds of protesters staged a sit-in in the Central district. Police said the sit-in was “unauthorised” and began removing some of the participants in the early hours of Tuesday.

Some demonstrators linked arms in a bid to resist being moved.

Pro-democracy activists display placards before a pro-democracy rally seeking greater democracy in Hong Kong on 1 July, 2014 as frustration grows over the influence of Beijing on the city
Activists called for greater democracy in Hong Kong
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters gather to march in the streets to demand universal suffrage in Hong Kong on 1 July, 2014
Protesters filled Victoria Park, where the march began
Demonstrators sit in a street of the central district after a pro-democracy rally seeking greater democracy in Hong Kong on 1 July 2014
Some demonstrators staged a sit-in in the business district after the rally

At the scene: Juliana Liu, BBC News, Hong Kong

Chanting “genuine democracy” and “CY Leung step down”, tens of thousands braved the heat and rain to march for full voting rights.

CY Leung, the current chief executive, was elected in 2012 by a committee of just 1,200 members, who were believed to be largely loyal to the Chinese government. The protesters fear that in 2017 the shortlist of candidates to replace him will selected by a similar group, making universal suffrage essentially meaningless.

But that is exactly what is likely to happen, unless there is some kind of compromise.

A senior Hong Kong government official told reporters recently that the next chief executive must be appointed by Beijing.


‘Stability, prosperity’

Speaking earlier at a ceremony to mark the 17th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China, Hong Kong leader CY Leung said that the government was trying hard to forge a consensus on political reform.

“Only by maintaining Hong Kong’s stability can we sustain our economic prosperity. Only by sustaining Hong Kong’s prosperity can we improve people’s livelihoods,” Mr Leung said.

The unofficial referendum, organised by campaign group Occupy Central, allowed the public to decide which of three proposals – all of which involved allowing citizens to directly nominate candidates – to present to Beijing.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 following a 1984 agreement between China and Britain.

China agreed to govern Hong Kong under the principle of “one country, two systems”, where the city would enjoy “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.

As a result, Hong Kong has its own legal system, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected.



April 18, 2014

Sombath Somphon the “Nelson Mandela of Laos,”


Kidnapping In Laos Affects Civil Society

Sombath Somphone is “one of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s most respected civil society figures,” according  to a December 2013 press statement from Secretary of State John Kerry on the one year anniversary of Sombath’s disappearance. Sombath was kidnapped from a police checkpoint in Laos and has not been heard from since. Sombath’s wife, Ng Shui-Meng, will be speaking about her husband’s disappearance and the challenges to free speech and human rights in Laos and in the rest of Southeast Asia while in Eugene on Monday, April 21.

“Laos has taken steps in recent years to become a responsible partner in the community of nations,” Kerry writes. “Sombath’s abduction threatens to undermine those efforts.”

Ng Shui-Meng says that while some have called Sombath the “Nelson Mandela of Laos,” her husband was never involved in politics. He worked in nonviolence and consensus building, she says, and always worked with the approval of government officials. Sombath established the Participatory Development Training Center in Laos, which works to train young people and local government officials in community-based development.

She says one link to Sombath’s disappearance could be his involvement in the Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF9) that took place from Oct. 16 to 19, 2012, in Vientiane, Laos, as part of his civil society work. Civil society groups are non-governmental organizations and other groups working on issues including health, education and living standards in both developed and developing nations.

The forum sought to promote universal social protection and access to essential services, food sovereignty and sustainable land and natural resource management, sustainable energy production and use, and just work and sustainable livelihoods, according to the AEPF9 website.

Ng Shui-Meng, who is also involved in civil society work, is in the U.S. to promote awareness of Sombath’s disappearance in hopes of his safe return, she says. She says she will talk about who her husband is and the type of work he has being doing the last 30 years, what happened the day of his abduction as well as the aftermath and impact on the civil society movement. “In Laos there is not much media freedom, freedom of organization or freedom of assembly,” she says.

Ng Shui-Meng speaks at 6 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1685 W. 13th Ave.

Video footage of Sombath Somphone’s disappearance Dec. 15, 2012 in Laos.

April 11, 2014

Vietnam Dissident Released, Arrives in US – เวียดนามปล่อยตัวนักโทษการเมือง


Vietnam Dissident Released, Arrives in US

WASHINGTON April 8, 2014 (AP)

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This file picture taken on April 4, 2011 shows French-trained prominent dissident and legal expert Cu Huy Ha Vu (Center) in court in Hanoi during his trial. One of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents, who was jailed after trying to sue the prime minister, has been freed and has left for the United States, a US official said Tuesday. — PHOTO: AFP

ภาพถ่ายเมื่อวันที่ 4 เม.ย. 2554 เผยให้เห็น นายกู่ฮวีห่าหวู (กลาง) ยืนอยู่ในศาลกรุงฮานอย ระหว่างการพิจารณาคดี นายหวูเป็นหนึ่งในผู้เห็นต่างกับรัฐที่มีชื่อเสียงที่สุดของเวียดนาม ถูกตัดสินจำคุกหลังพยายามฟ้องร้องนายกรัฐมนตรี ล่าสุดนายหวูได้รับการปล่อยตัวเป็นอิสระและตัดสินใจเดินทางไปสหรัฐฯ.– Agence France-Presse/Files/ Vietnam News Agency.

A prominent Vietnamese dissident whose father was an associate of the nation’s founding president Ho Chi Minh arrived in the U.S. Monday after being released from prison by Vietnam, the State Department said.

Cu Huy Ha Vu arrived on a flight to Washington with his wife. He is a legal scholar and among the ruling Communist Party’s highest-profile critics.

In a one-day trial, Vu was sentenced in April 2011 to seven years in prison and three years of house arrest on charges that included conducting propaganda against the state, calling for multiparty government and demanding the abolishment of the party’s leadership.

“The United States welcomes the decision by Vietnamese authorities to release prisoner of conscience Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu,” Aaron Jensen, a spokesman for the State Department’s bureau of democracy, human rights and labor, told The Associated Press.

Jensen said Vu and his wife, Nguyen Thi Duong Ha, had decided to travel to the U.S. after Vu’s release. He provided no further details on the circumstance of the release, and a spokesman at the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington declined to comment.

Vu is among the many government critics who have been imprisoned as the one-party authoritarian state cracks down on dissent amid widespread concerns over its handling of a stuttering economy. He’s among the highest-profile as his father Cu Huy Can was a revolutionary poet and a minister in Ho’s government.

Vu was arrested in 2010 after attempting to sue Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung twice — first for approving a Chinese-built bauxite mining project in Vietnam’s central highlands, and later for prohibiting the filing of class-action lawsuits. The first suit was rejected by a Hanoi court, and the second was ignored.

Vu reportedly went on hunger strike between late May and mid-June over alleged poor treatment in prison.

The U.S. has sought closer ties with its former enemy, Vietnam, in recent years, but relations have been hobbled by concerns over Hanoi’s rights record. President Barack Obama, however, met current Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang at the White House last July.

 Vietnam releases high-profile dissident who tried to sue PM

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Published on Apr 8, 2014

HANOI (AFP) – One of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents, who was jailed after trying to sue the prime minister, has been freed and has left for the United States, a US official said Tuesday.

French-trained lawyer Cu Huy Ha Vu, the son of a Vietnamese revolutionary leader, was sentenced in April 2011 to seven years in prison for “anti-state activity”.

The release of the 55-year-old, who last year staged a hunger strike to draw attention to his treatment in jail, followed intense campaigning by rights groups and foreign governments.

“We welcome the decision by Vietnamese authorities to release prisoner of conscience Dr Cu Huy Ha Vu,” US Embassy spokesman Spencer Cryder told AFP.

เวียดนามปล่อยตัวนักโทษการเมืองชื่อดัง ยังไร้สาเหตุแน่ชัด

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เอเอฟพี – เจ้าหน้าที่สหรัฐฯ เผยวานนี้ (8) ว่า หนึ่งในผู้เห็นต่างกับรัฐที่มีชื่อเสียงที่สุดของเวียดนาม ที่ถูกโทษจำคุกหลังพยายามฟ้องร้องนายกรัฐมนตรี ได้รับการปล่อยตัวเป็นอิสระและเดินทางไปสหรัฐฯ เป็นที่เรียบร้อย

นายกู่ฮวีห่าหวู (Cu Huy Ha Vu) บุตรชายของนายกู่ฮวีเกิ่น แกนนำปฏิวัติ ถูกตัดสินโทษจำคุกเมื่อเดือน เม.ย. 2554 เป็นเวลา 7 ปี ในความผิด “ดำเนินกิจกรรมต่อต้านรัฐ”

การปล่อยตัวนายหวู ที่เมื่อปีก่อนได้อดข้าวประท้วงเพื่อเรียกร้องความสนใจต่อการปฏิบัตที่ได้ เขารับในเรือนจำ มีขึ้นหลังกลุ่มสิทธิมนุษยชน และรัฐบาลต่างชาติวิพากษ์วิจารณ์อย่างหนัก

“เรายินดีต่อการตัดสินใจของทางการเวียดนามที่ปล่อยตัวนักโทษการเมือง ดร.กู่ฮวีห่าหวู” โฆษกสถานทูตสหรัฐฯ กล่าว

“ดร.หวู และภรรยา ตัดสินใจเดินทางไปยังสหรัฐฯ หลังได้รับการปล่อยตัว และเดินทางถึงกรุงวอชิงตัน ดี.ซี. เมื่อวันจันทร์ (7)” เจ้าหน้าที่คนเดิมกล่าว แต่ปฏิเสธที่จะระบุว่านายหวู จะพำนักอยู่ในสหรัฐฯ อย่างถาวรหรือไม่

ฝ่ายรัฐบาลเวียดนาม ไม่ได้ระบุถึงเหตุผลในการปล่อยตัวนายหวู แต่ยืนยันว่า ภรรยาของนายหวูมีอาการเจ็บป่วยจากโรคหัวใจ ด้านทนายความของนายหวูกล่าวว่า เหตุผลการปล่อยตัวยังไม่ชัดเจน

นายกู่ฮวีห่าหวู ถูกจับกุมตัวในปี 2553 หลังพยายามฟ้องร้องนายกรัฐมนตรีเหวียน เติ๋น ยวุ๋ง แต่ไม่ประสบความสำเร็จ เกี่ยวกับแผนการก่อสร้างเหมืองแร่ที่ก่อให้เกิดการคัดค้านเป็นวงกว้าง

หัวหน้าผู้พิพากษาในการพิจารณาคดีระบุว่า งานเขียน และบทสัมภาษณ์ของนายหวู เป็นการป้ายสีพรรคคอมมิวนิสต์เวียดนาม

อดีตศัตรูสงครามเวียดนาม และสหรัฐฯ ได้ทำงานร่วมกันที่จะพัฒนาความสัมพันธ์ในช่วงหลายสิบปีที่ผ่านมา แต่ประเด็นปัญหาเกี่ยวกับสิทธิมนุษยชนยังคงเป็นอุปสรรคต่อการพัฒนาความ สัมพันธ์ของ 2 ประเทศ

เวียดนาม มักถูกประณามโดยกลุ่มสิทธิมนุษยชน และรัฐบาลชาติตะวันตก ต่อการไม่ยอมรับความคิดเห็นทางการเมืองที่แตกต่าง และการละเมิดเสรีภาพในการนับถือศาสนา

รองผู้อำนวยการฮิวแมนไรท์วอช ประจำภูมิภาคเอเชีย ระบุว่า การปล่อยตัวนายหวู เป็นการพัฒนาที่น่ายินดี โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งปัญหาสุขภาพของนายหวู ขณะที่ถูกจำคุกอย่างไม่เป็นธรรมโดยเจ้าหน้าที่เวียดนาม

“นายหวู ไม่ควรถูกจำคุกตั้งแต่แรก เพราะสิ่งที่ นายหวู กระทำไปทั้งหมดนั้นเป็นการใช้สิทธิของตัวเองในการแสดงความคิดเห็นอย่างเสรี” ฟิล โรเบิร์ตสัน กล่าว

เวียดนาม ไม่อนุญาตเอกชนผลิตสื่อ หนังสือพิมพ์ทุกฉบับ และสถานทีโทรทัศน์ทุกช่องล้วนเป็นกิจการของรัฐ ทนายความ บล็อกเกอร์ และนักเคลื่อนไหวมักตกเป็นเป้าในการจับกุม และควบคุมตัวอย่างไม่มีสาเหตุ

องค์กรนักข่าวไร้พรมแดนระบุเมื่อต้นเดือนว่า เวียดนามมีบล็อกเกอร์ถูกควบคุมตัวอย่างน้อย 34 คน เป็นรองเพียงแค่จีนเท่านั้น.

February 25, 2014

Ukraine revolution: live

Ukraine revolution: live

Ukraine’s interim president Oleksander Turchinov has delayed plans to form a new government by Tuesday evening, saying that the deadline has been extended to Thursday to allow for further consultations. All the day’s developments as they happen

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: 


2:04PM GMT 25 Feb 2014


14.04 It’s certainly been a busy 48 hours for Russian diplomats, too (see 11.20).

Now Grigory Karasin, a deputy foreign minister, has met in Moscow with Ukraine’s Ambassador to Russia, Volodymyr Yelchenko.

The meeting was called to raise concerns over the safety of Russians in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“From the Russian side questions were raised about … the safety for Russian citizens and diplomatic representatives on the territory of Ukraine,” the ministry statement said.

13.36 Former Georgian president claims that Yanukovych openly boasted of corruption in Ukraine

13.18 With the hunt for Yanukovych in full cry, the Paddy Power publicity machine senses the biggest flood of bets since Col Muammar Gaddafi went missing in Libya. Here are the odds for those inclined to indulge in a wager:

Where is Yanukovych?

Ukraine 5/4

Russia 6/4

UAE 3/1

Georgia 6/1

Turkey 8/1

13.10 Additional information has come in about the alleged shooting of the former head of the presidential bureaucracy:

Andriy Klyuev, a former presidential aide who is said by the new Ukrainian authorities to be on the run with ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich, has been shot in the leg, his spokesman said.

Spokesman Artem Petrenko said a “trusted source” had told him that Klyuev, the head of the presidential administration until Yanukovich was toppled on Saturday, had come under fire twice and was wounded, but his life was not in danger.

Petrenko said by telephone that he had not spoken to Klyuev himself and he did not know where Klyuev was. He also said he did not know whether Klyuev was with Yanukovich, who fled Kiev on Friday and is wanted by the Ukrainian authorities to face accusations of murder.

12.55 More details emerging of Vitali Klitschko’s decision to run for the presidency.

Mr Klitschko, 42, a former WBC heavyweight champion, has been one of the main opposition leaders championing the cause of thousands of protesters who took to the streets last November.

“I will run for the post of president of Ukraine because I firmly believe that the rules of the game have to be changed in Ukraine,” he was quoted as telling journalists.

12.40 Speaking of sidekicks, one has been shot according to this newsflash:


12.35 A reminder of times past emerges from pictures from the house of a presidential sidekick:

12.30 For a background read on the alleged role of two oligarchs in Viktor Yanukovych’s downfall, see Der Spiegel’s english language version of events in Kiev here

It claims that Rinat Akhmetov (see below) and Dmitry Firtash pulled the rug from under the now missing president.

12.20 Another oligarch – this time Victor Pinchuk – has his say in the FT(£)

12.15 The baroness meets the gas baron – a picture of two of the women who play a big role in determining Ukraine’s fate in the months to come. Lady Ashton, the EUs foreign affairs supremo meets newly-freed Yulia Tymoshenko.

12.10 A lot of people are coming out of the woodwork after the horse has bolted, including Ukraine’s richest men who are lining up to say what should happen

12.00 Vitali Klitschko has confirmed that he will be a candidate for the presidency. News that was expected but it demonstrates there is no appetite for a cosy deal between the opposition candidates.

11.50 National Geographic has a slideshow depicting the faces of the Ukrainian revolution here:

11.46 Ukraine raises prospect of an international criminal court trial of Viktor Yanukovych:

Ukraine’s parliament has voted to send fugitive President Viktor Yanukovich to be tried for ‘serious crimes’ by the International Criminal Court once he has been captured.

A resolution, overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, linked Yanukovich, who was ousted on Saturday and is now on the run, to police violence against protesters which it said had led to the deaths of more than 100 citizens from Ukraine and other states.

The resolution said former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka, who are also being sought by the authorities, should also be sent for trial at the ICC, which is based in The Hague.

11.33 Ukraine’s parliament has just passed a resolution saying that ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych and others caused the deaths of more than 1000 citizens. Here is another picture from the top of the building.

11.20 And in Moscow, the diplomacy continues.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has spoken to Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and David Cameron about the crisis. Today he summoned his top security officials to discuss the situation – but no details of their meeting were released.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said earlier today that Ukraine must not be forced to choose between East and West.

And yesterday Dmitri Medvedev, the prime minister, strongly condemned the new authorities, saying Monday they came to power as a result of an “armed mutiny” and their legitimacy is causing “big doubts.”

“If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kiev to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government,” he said.

11.00 Meanwhile, back in Ukraine, campaigning has officially begun for the presidential election – due to be held on May 25.

Mr Yanukovych’s archrival, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is widely seen as a top contender for the post. She was freed from prison on Saturday after spending two-and-a-half years there. Her lawyer said, however, that she hasn’t yet declared whether to run.

10.50 But a Conservative MP respectfully disagrees with the diversion of taxpayers money to the tussle for Ukraine.

10.45 Behind the scenes efforts to ensure a new government enjoys Western financial support are breaking into view.

10.36 More from Baroness Ashton, the first senior foreign official to visit Kiev since the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych as president.

Voicing “strong support” for Ukraine’s new leaders at a news conference, Baroness Ashton urged them to form an “inclusive” government and focus on getting the country through short-term problems.

She spelled out no details of any foreign financial assistance, saying the EU would work with the International Monetary Fund but the IMF would make its own assessment of the situation.

10.15 Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, is in Kiev today, and is speaking now.

Key points from her speech so far:

- Russia, as a neighbouring country, should help Ukraine move forward.
– The focus should be on getting Ukraine through short-term problems
– Then Ukraine needs to look at reforms to agriculture and energy

10.08 Protesters in Kiev are still hard at work – here cutting the Soviet pentagram symbol out of the parliamentary building.

“The star on top of the Verkhovna Rada is no longer there,” said Oleh Tyahnybok, head of the nationalist Svoboda party, which has been a strong force in the protest movement.

09.50 Meanwhile, the hunt for Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president, continues.

Our correspondent Roland Oliphant has sent this dispatch from the Crimea – one of the regions where Mr Yanukovych could be hiding. An arrest warrant has been issued for him.

09.45 Oleksander Turchinov, the interim president, has put off plans to vote on the formation of a national unity government until Thursday to allow consultations to continue. We were expecting the announcement of a new prime minister and cabinet today.

“The vote on the national unity government should be on Thursday,” said Mr Turchinov, the speaker of the assembly and the acting president. The vote had been expected to take place during Tuesday’s session.

Later on Tuesday he will meet law enforcement agencies to discuss “dangerous signs of separatism” in some areas.

09.30 Welcome again to our continuing coverage of the extraordinary events in Ukraine.


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