Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA)
Appeal for Justice in Laos Following Abductions, Killings, Disappearances
Vientiane, Laos, Bangkok, Thailand, and Washington, D.C.
March 17, 2013
The Lao Human Rights Council (LHRC), the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. (ULDL), the Laos Institute for Democracy (LIFD), the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), and a coalition of non-governmental organizations are calling for an international investigation into a string of recent human rights violations, disappearances, and killings in Laos involving Lao security forces and government officials.
“In the wake of the Lao government’s extrajudicial abduction and detention of Sombath Somphone and other important activists in Laos, as well as the Lao military’s killing of four Hmong civilians in February, the United Nations, European Union and the international community should launch and immediate investigation into the upswing in political violence and human rights violations in Laos,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.
In February, the European Parliament passed a resolution regarding human rights violations in Laos, with a focus on Somphone Sombath’s, abduction by Lao secret police on December 15, 2012, in Vientiane. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1302/S00132/laos-should-abide-by-european-parliament-resolution.htm
“The UN and the European Union should also address, in an emergency human rights investigation, the disappearance of three Lao-American citizens from Minnesota in January,” Smith stated. “Souli Kongmalavong, Bounthie Insixiengmai and Bounma Phannhotha, of Minnesota, disappeared in Southern Laos in January, and are feared dead, under suspicious circumstances involving corrupt Lao officials.” http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org
According to Smith: “Mr. Souli Kongmalavong, of the Twin Cities-area of Minnesota, was recently found dead in a burnt out van with at least two other bodies in Laos. Corrupt Lao police and government officials are believed to be involved in the deaths and disappearances. Mr. Kongmalavong reportedly owed property, and invested, in Laos, and disappeared at the hands of government officials and security forces while attending a funeral in Southern Laos.” http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1303/S00009/three-lao-americans-from-minnesota-missing-in-laos.htm
According to international humanitarian and activist Kay Danes, corrupt Lao officials continue to target foreign investors, and Lao and Hmong-Americans, seeking to do business in Laos, including, most recently, hotel and casino-investor Sanum Investments. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20121015006847/en/Lao-PDR-Place-Business-Lao-Government-Arrest
In April of 2011, an international appeal was issued regarding the arrest and disappearance of Mr. Hakit Yang and two other Hmong-American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota, who were arrested and have disappeared in Laos. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1104/S00536/laos-appeal-for-release-of-3-hmong-americans.htm
Many Laotians remain concerned about recent developments.
“We are calling for a complete and thorough international investigation regarding the Lao police’s, and military’s, apparent direct role in the disappearance of three Lao-Americans from Minnesota who went missing in Laos in January,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos (ULDL). “We are also calling on the Lao regime to immediately release Sombath Somphone as well as the Lao students movement for democracy leaders, and other civic activists, that it has unjustly imprisoned in Laos.”
“Lao and Vietnamese military and security forces continue to arrest, persecute, imprison, and kill the Laotian and Lao-Hmong people,” Mr. Rathigna concluded. “Laos is also targeting foreign business investors, both large and small, to confiscate and steal their money, property, business and investment profits; tourists are also being targeted, especially Lao and Hmong-Americans from Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, and elsewhere traveling to Laos.”
“The Laotian community around the world is calling on the Lao government to respect civil and human rights, stop human rights violations, and release Sombath Somphone and other Lao and Hmong people that it has wrongly arrested and imprisoned in recent years,” said Khamphoua Naovarangsy, of the LIFD. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130304006755/en/Laos-Attacks-Intensify-Lao-Hmong-People
The LHRC, and its President Vaughn Vang, has also issued a statement and appeal today regarding human rights violations and the killing of four Lao-Hmong civilians last month:
“Sadly, Lao-Hmong villagers were arbitrarily attacked by Lao soldiers who killed four Hmong people and wounded one other in February,” said Vaughn Vang, President of the Wisconsin- and Minnesota-based LHRC.
“Lao Peoples Army (LPA) soldiers, armed with AK-47 machine guns, fired upon a group of ten Hmong men southwest of the Phou Bia mountain-area.
“The Hmong men killed by the Lao military include: Hue Xiong, 32 years old; Cha Xiong, 30; Ze Xiong, 20; and Bee Vang, 30.
“Three of the deceased, murdered by the LPA soldiers, were ordinary teachers for a nearby school.
“These unarmed Hmong people left their village to seek food when they were attacked and killed by Lao troops. Mr. Year Chang was also shot and wounded, but survived.
“The families of the dead are requesting that they be permitted to retrieve the bodies of their family members in order to perform traditional Hmong Animist and Christian religious ceremonies, and burial rituals, to rest the souls of those who were killed in the recent government attack. Unfortunately, however, the Lao authorities have refused their requests.
“We urge the United Nation Human Rights and the world communities to investigate these murders immediately and bring these killers to justice.
“The Laotian Government, in its official state propaganda, has announce to the world that they have opened the doors for the world to conduct business within their country. They have also announced for all the Lao-Hmong living in other countries to return to Laos and assist the Laotian Government in developing a better government and country for them to live in. If this is their claim, then what is the reasoning behind the fact that Sombath Somphone was an intelligent individual who had a passion to help his own Laotian people, however, the Laotian Government arrested him, and his whereabouts are unknown?
“Furthermore, the Hmong people who live in Laos are being killed daily by the LPA and Lao military and security forces. With all these atrocities, how can the Laotian Government falsely claim that their country is at peace? How could the Lao-Hmong people and international community trust that they will not be at harm once they cross the borders into communist Laos ?
“Sadly, corrupt Laotian Government officials have sold to other countries their natural resources including forests, their gold and silver, and much of their farmland. With no free and secure land to live, where would the Hmong Lao from other countries live once they enter the country of Laos?
“The Laotian Government’s propaganda and false announcement of peace is just another front to bring the Lao-Hmong people from other countries back to Laos for the government to abuse, kidnap, arrest, rob, extort and slaughter them as they are doing with the current Lao-Hmong living in Laos. Their country is still not at peace and any Hmong Lao entering their borders is often guaranteed to be at harm’s way and their lives at stake.
“We, the Lao and Lao-Hmong communities all over the globe, strongly urge the United Nations, European Parliament, and international community to put an end to the Laotian Government’s hate crimes, human rights violations, abductions and killings. We strongly urge the United to investigate the recent murders of these innocent Lao-Hmong men and strongly urge the investigation of the whereabouts of Sombath Somphone and the three Lao-Americans from Minnesota who disappeared recently in Laos.
“We want the Lao government to also release Hakit Yang and the other three Lao- and Hmong-Americans from Minnesota currently jailed in Laos.
“There is no peace within the country of Laos and there will be no peace in the hearts of the families of the deceased, the families of the missing, and the families of all Lao and Hmong people all over the world until justice has been served, ” Vang concluded in his statement.
Maria Gomez or Philip Smith
CPPA – Center for Public Policy Analysis