Archive for January, 2014

January 31, 2014

Australia Announces Award to Laos, Hmong Human Rights Activist


Australia Announces Award to Laos, Hmong Human Rights Activist

Center for Public Policy Analysis

Washington, D.C., and Canberra, Australia, January 30, 2014

Kay Danes is being honored with the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her social justice and human rights work. Danes is an outspoken voice for the victims of extra-judicial abduction, forced disappearance and torture in Laos, where she suffered imprisonment by communist officials as a political prisoner.

“Kay Danes’ determination and courage to give voice to the voiceless has been invaluable in helping to understand the hidden reality surrounding the authoritarian regimes in Laos and Vietnam, especially in light of the abduction of civic activist and Magsaysay Award winner Sombath Somphone by Lao security forces, and the international outcry for his release,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA).

“Kay Danes often travels to Washington to speak in the U.S. Congress about human rights violations in Laos and the plight of the Lao and Hmong people, including imprisoned political and religious dissidents.

“She has repeatedly testified about the status of ethnic Hmong refugees facing forced repatriation in Thailand, prisoners tortured in Laos, religious persecution, and Lao- and Hmong-American men from St. Paul, Minnesota, still imprisoned in Laos, including Hakit Yang, Congshineng Yang and Trillion Yunhaison.”

The OAM award is the principal and most prestigious means of recognizing outstanding citizens  in Australia. Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, established the OAM.

“Indeed, human rights are the foundation of civil societies and set the guidelines on how we ought to act towards one another,” stated Kay Danes.

“I am grateful to be a recipient of this award and hope that the human rights conversation continues to strengthen throughout the world.

“My long-standing relationship with the Centre for Public Policy Analysis, and in particular, with Mr. Philip Smith, has very much played an important part in this award to which I am recognized today. Together, and with other humanitarians and U.S. Government officials, we hope to secure greater human rights’ freedoms for the thousands of those still oppressed by totalitarian regimes.”

Danes is the author of key books on Laos and foreign prisoners’ abuse.

Smith contributed the preface to Danes’ most recent book, authored with her husband Kerry, “Standing Ground” (New Holland Australia, 2009).


Jade Her or Philip Smith


Center for Public Policy Analysis

January 30, 2014

Laos: Hundreds of Local Workers Laid Off at Laos Gold Mine in Sepon, Savannakhet

Hundreds of Local Workers Laid Off at Laos Gold Mine

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A file photo of a woman panning for gold along the Mekong River in Laos.

Hundreds of local workers have been laid off at an Australian-operated gold mine in southern Laos following an announcement last year by company executives that the firm would cease mining the precious commodity due to rising costs.

About 400 of 4,000 workers at the MMG Lane Xang Minerals Limited Sepon mine in Savannakhet province were let go last week and paid compensation, a company officer told RFA’s Lao Service last week.

Most of them were locals who live in Vilabuly district, with the rest coming from neighboring provinces and other area, he said.

The company will help those who can’t find employment to find jobs, he added.

Foreign employees, mostly experts, were also laid off last year, he said.

Work at the Sepon site will now focus on copper production, which had already generated about 92 percent of the mine’s revenue, a company media release said in November.

Lane Xang Minerals Limited Sepon is 90-percent owned by its Australia-based parent company, MMG Limited, with another 10 percent ownership held by the Lao government.


The continued production of gold at Sepon would have proved “uneconomic” due to falling gold prices and rising costs of production, the company said in its statement.

“[But] we appreciate the significance of the Sepon gold and copper operation to our people, their families and the broader community.”

“Copper production, which generates about 92 percent of total revenue at Sepon, will continue,” the company said.

Copper is now the most commonly mined commodity in Laos, “making it probable that copper will remain as the top export commodity in Laos over the years to come,” Laos’s Vientiane Times said on Monday.

The country’s second-largest mining investment is in iron ore, with gold coming in third, the paper said.

Meanwhile, the Lao government has announced plans to revise its mining policy “with the aim to generate more revenue from mine concession projects,” according to a Dec. 30, 2013, Vientiane Times report.

“The move comes after the government has learnt that Laos has collected unreasonably little from many mining projects it has previously granted concessions to investors for.”

Officials are currently inspecting mine projects across the country with plans to finalize the government’s survey sometime this year before announcing revisions to its policy, the paper said.

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Bounchanh Mouangkham. Written in English by Richard Finney.

January 29, 2014

The President’s State of the Union address

State of the Union

The President’s State of the Union address

January 28, 2014.  9 PM ET

The 2014 State of the Union Address (Enhanced Version)

January 29, 2014

เพื่อถวายเป็นพุทธบูชา “ธุดงค์ธรรมชัย เส้นทางพระผู้ปราบมาร พระมงคลเทพมุนี (สด จนฺทสโร) ปีที่ 3”


Sadhu.  Rejoice in all of your merit.



กำหนดการ ธุดงค์ธรรมชัย เส้นทางพระผู้ปราบมาร

พระมงคลเทพมุนี (สด จนฺทสโร) ปีที่ 3

ระหว่างวันที่ 2 – 28 มกราคม พ.ศ.2557


Credited to iDreamMediaCenter (Youtube)

ธุดงค์ธรรมชัยเส้นทางฯปีที่ 3  ตอนที่ 15


ธุดงค์ธรรมชัยเส้นทางฯปีที่ 3  ตอนที่ 14


ธุดงค์ธรรมชัยเส้นทางฯปีที่ 3  ตอนที่ 13


ธุดงค์ธรรมชัยเส้นทางฯปีที่ 3  ตอนที่ 12


ธุดงค์ธรรมชัยเส้นทางฯปีที่ 3  ตอนที่ 11

ธุดงค์ธรรมชัยพระผู้ปราบมารปีที่ 3 ตอนที่ 10

  ธุดงค์ธรรมชัยพระผู้ปราบมารปีที่ 3 ตอนที่ 9

ธุดงค์ธรรมชัยพระผู้ปราบมารปีที่ 3 ตอนที่ 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4,

3, 2, 1


Thumbnail  Thumbnail  Thumbnail  

ขอเรียนเชิญทุกท่าน ร่วมต้อนรับคณะพระธุดงค์ จำนวน 1,129 รูป “ธุดงค์ธรรมชัย เส้นทางพระผู้ปราบมาร พระมงคลเทพมุนี (สด จนฺทสโร) ปีที่ 3”

ระหว่างวันที่ 2 – 28 มกราคม พ.ศ.2557 รวม 27 วัน ผ่านพื้นที่ 7 จังหวัด ได้แก่ พระนครศรีอยุธยา สุพรรณบุรี นครปฐม สมุทรสาคร ปทุมธานี นนทบุรี และกรุงเทพมหานคร รวมระยะทาง 459 กิโลเมตร เพื่อถวายเป็นพุทธบูชา สืบสานวัฒนธรรมชาวพุทธ ปลุกกระแสนศีลธรรม เสริมสร้างความเป็นสิริมงคล สร้างบุญใหญ่ให้แผ่นดิน เกิดสามัคคีธรรมให้ประเทศ รับทราบรายละเอียดเพิ่มเติมได้ที่ | |


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ต้อนรับศักราชใหม่ เติมบุญใหญ่ให้ชีวิต

โครงการธุดงค์ธรรมชัย ปีที่ 3 วันที่ 2 – 28 มกราคม พ.ศ. 2557

ผ่าน 7 จังหวัด รวมระยะทาง 459 กิโลเมตร

 “ธรรมยาตรา เพื่อฟื้นฟูศีลธรรมโลก”


January 28, 2014

Robust borders only a part of the answer to illegal logging

Robust borders only a part of the answer to illegal logging

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January 27, 2014



Over the past 10 years, the annual global trade in timber and timber products has measured around 1.3 billion cubic metres PDF, with an import value of about US$350 billion a year PDF.

Lao Customs officer at the Naphao border, 2008 (c) EIA

South-East Asia and China account for almost 40 per cent of global exports of these products, making it one of the trade’s most important areas.

The Mekong region accounts for an increasingly important proportion of the trade in timber products and is a crucial hotspot for some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, having lost nearly 40m hectares (ha) of forest cover since 1980 (the 98m ha of natural forest remaining represents about half of the region’s land area).

But alongside significant trade and abundant forests is the illegal trade in timber. Some reports have estimated as much as US$17 billion dollars PDF’ worth of illegal trade flows from the East Asia Pacific region, with the Mekong particularly susceptible because of poor forest governance, weak regulation, corruption and porous border controls.

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has published a study that demonstrates how the Greater Mekong sub-region is largely ill-equipped to effectively tackle the threats posed by globalising criminal networks. The study is to inform a roundtable with key partners to discuss the findings of the report and work towards integrated solutions to improve security at land borders.

While this is positive, strengthening border controls is not the only answer to the illegal cross-border trade in timber. Without tackling the elite interests that dominate this trade (particularly across the Laos/Vietnam border in relation to companies EIA has targeted), as well as the corruption involved, any tightened border controls will likely be ineffective.

EIA has monitored the illegal timber trade throughout the region over many years, documenting the cross-border traffic between Laos and Vietnam of logs, in contravention of Laos law. There are many border crossings used for smuggling logs from Lao into Vietnam.

The 2011 EIA report Crossroads PDF revealed how well-connected companies in Vietnam and the Lao PDR (Laos) were profiting from this illicit trade via an opaque quota system shot through with by cronyism.

EIA followed up Crossroads in 2012 with the report Checkpoints PDF, scrutinising Vietnam companies’ opaque quotas and cross-border trade, but which also documented how Vietnam has become the principal exporter of threatened and protected rosewood timbers to China, where demand for luxury ‘Hongmu’ furniture has driven a major spike in illegal logging worldwide, particularly in the Mekong region.

Rosewood is banned from exploitation and trade across Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, and is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), yet significant quantities continue to be exported to China. Much of the rosewood comes from Laos and Thailand, and is smuggled to Vietnam through poorly controlled borders. China has imported over 325,429 cubic meters of Hongmu timber from Vietnam over the past three years, a lot of it likely composed of timber smuggled in from Laos and Thailand.

Even though awareness for illegal trade in wildlife and timber is growing, knowledge of these issues among border officials in the region cannot be considered satisfactory – the majority have never received any training on the subject. A majority among border officials from Laos and Myanmar/Burma, for example, cannot identify the correct definition of wildlife trade as “Trade in wild plants and animals and their parts and derivatives”, choosing instead a definition that focuses exclusively on animals. Similarly, a majority of officials from all surveyed countries, with the exception of Thailand, does not know what CITES is.

Given this result, it is not surprising that many respondents do not know whether any kind of permits or certificates are needed when trading CITES-listed species or that they are unaware as to whether they have the most recent CITES Appendices at their workplace.

Chris Moyes

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