Archive for ‘Laos’

May 27, 2015

Heirs of the ‘Secret War’ in Laos

Heirs of the ‘Secret War’ in Laos

May 23, 2015

Press Release: Lao, Hmong Veterans Arrive in U.S. Congress, Arlington, For 40th Anniversary Ceremonies, New Legislation

Press Release:

Lao, Hmong Veterans Arrive in U.S. Congress, Arlington, For 40th Anniversary Ceremonies, New Legislation

Washington, DC, and Arlington, Virginia, May 14, 2015

Lao- and Hmong-American veterans of the Vietnam War and their families have arrived on Capitol Hill and Washington, DC to somberly mourn the 40th anniversary of the fall of the Kingdom of Laos, and the joint CIA, Air America, and Hmong headquarters at Long Chieng (Long Tieng), to invading North Vietnamese Army forces on May 14-15, 1975. Lao- and Hmong-Americans will also join with the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and key members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for the introduction today of the “Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act” in the new session of Congress.

The bill is being introduced today in the U.S. Congress by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Al Franken (D-MN), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and others. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressmen Jim Costa (D-CA) and Paul Cook (R-CA) are spearheading the introduction of the legislation along with Representatives Sean Duffy (R-WI), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Mike Honda (D-CA), Don Young (AK) and others. The bill, if enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama, would allow Lao- and Hmong-American veterans to be buried with honors at U.S. national veterans cemeteries administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Lao- and Hmong-American veterans of the Vietnam War and their families from across the United States have arrived on Capitol Hill and Washington, DC to somberly mourn the 40th anniversary of the fall of the Royal Kingdom of Laos, and the joint CIA, Air America, and Hmong headquarters at Long Chieng (Long Tieng), to invading North Vietnamese Army forces in May 14-15, 1975,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C.

Smith continued: “As part of the ‘Laos Freedom Ride’ commemoration, hundreds of Lao- and Hmong-American veterans of the Vietnam War and their families from Minnesota, California, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Alaska, and other states  have traveled many miles and are arriving on buses, planes and cars for events in the U.S. Congress and Capitol Hill as well as for a special veterans’ memorial and wreath-laying service on Friday, May 15, in Arlington National Cemetery with the U.S. Department of Defense.”

“Truly, I am honored to be here in our nation’s Capital, Washington, D.C., and Arlington National Cemetery, to be part of the 40th Anniversary Ceremony to honor and pay respect to the Lao- and Hmong veterans, and our U.S. military and clandestine advisors, and to help conduct a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lao Veterans of America monument,” said Richard Vang, President of the Fresno, California-based Lao Veterans of America Institute. “I want to also express my deepest thanks to the U.S. Congress for the introduction of the ‘Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act’ today, when we arrive and meet with the Senators and Representatives.”

“In addition to the veterans’ memorial commemoration that we will be holding tomorrow in Arlington National Cemetery to mark the 40th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War in the Kingdom of Laos, I would like to stress that the legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski with Congressman Jim Costa, Congressman Don Young, Senator Dan Sullivan and others, ‘The Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act’, is very important to our Lao and Hmong-American community and veterans. We appreciate them honoring our Lao and Hmong-American veterans and their families, and we are hopeful that the bill will be passed and signed into law by President Obama, so that our veterans can be buried with honor at U.S. national veterans’ cemeteries administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Pasert Lee, President of the Hmong Alaska Community, Inc. and a wounded combat veteran of the Vietnam War.

“We are very grateful to U.S. Congressmen Jim Costa, Paul Cook, Don Young, Sean Duffy, Devin Nunes, Collin Peterson and many others for their leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives for introducing and supporting the ‘Hmong Veterans Service Recognition Act’ and the events here today in Washington, D.C. Here in the U.S. Senate, we want to especially thank Senators Lisa Murkowski, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, Tammy Baldwin, Sheldon Whitehouse, and many others for their efforts on Capitol Hill in introducing the bill today in the U.S. Congress on this important day, May 14, just prior to our memorial service and wreath laying-ceremony tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery at the Lao Veterans of America monument,” said Pang Mang Thao, the President of the Lao Veterans of America of Minnesota.

Pang Mang Thao is leading a delegation of some 60 Laotian and Hmong veterans, widows, and elders, from St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the Twin Cities area to Washington, DC and Arlington for the events today and Friday (May 14-15). Lao and Hmong-American veterans of the Vietnam War and their families from Minnesota, California, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and other states are participating in the events in the U.S. Congress, Washington, DC and the Lao Veterans of America monument (“Laos Monument”) in Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to military uniforms, many of the Laotian and Hmong participants will be dressed in traditional, ethnic Laotian and Hmong tribal clothing and outfits for the events.

May 14-15 also commemorates National Lao Hmong Recognition Day, Hmong- Appreciation Day, and Lao Hmong Veterans Memorial Day, and is a day of commemoration for the Lao and Hmong people who lost their lives and country during the Vietnam War when the Kingdom of Laos fell to invading Soviet-backed North Vietnamese Army troops and communist Pathet Lao guerrillas.

###
Contact:
Jade Her or Philip Smith
Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA)
Tele. (202)543-1444
info@centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

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April 13, 2015

Lao New Year

 Lao New Year.

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 10, 2015

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/04/240572.htm#

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States of America, I am honored to wish the people of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic peace and prosperity on the occasion of the Lao New Year.

The start of a new year is a time to celebrate all we have accomplished and look ahead with hope for the future. I was delighted that the United States had the opportunity to join the Government of Laos in co-hosting the Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong in Pakse this past February. The coming year will be an important one for Laos, and I hope it brings joy to Lao people around the world.

The United States values its important friendship with Laos. May the New Year bring us closer together.

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March 19, 2015

Tiger meat, bear paws openly available in Laos: NGO

Tiger meat, bear paws openly available in Laos: NGO

March 19th, 2015 in Biology / Ecology

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-tiger-meat-paws-openly-laos.html

A resort complex in northwest Laos targeting Chinese visitors has become a "lawless playground" for the trade in illeg
A resort complex in northwest Laos targeting Chinese visitors has become a “lawless playground” for the trade in illegal wildlife ranging from tiger meat to bear paws, an advocacy group says

A resort complex in northwest Laos targeting Chinese visitors has become a “lawless playground” for the trade in illegal wildlife ranging from tiger meat to bear paws, an advocacy group says

A resort complex in northwest Laos targeting Chinese visitors has become a “lawless playground” for the trade in illegal wildlife ranging from tiger meat to bear paws, an advocacy group said Thursday.

Customers “can openly buy endangered species products” in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone on the border between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in Laos’ Bokeo province, according to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The London-based group, together with the non-governmental group Education for Nature Vietnam, also documented restaurants offering “sauté tiger meat”, bear paws and pangolins on their menus.

Laos is becoming a growing hub for the trade in with foreign tourists, particularly from neighbouring China, driving the demand for illegal products, according to environmental groups.

Many Chinese believe rare animal meat and body parts contain aphrodisiac or medicinal qualities.

The EIA report called on Laos to immediately set up a task force to tackle the trade and seize all illegal products in the Special Economic Zone.

“China also needs to understand and accept that its legal domestic trade in the skins of captive-bred tigers is doing nothing but driving consumer demand,” said Debbie Banks of the EIA in a statement.

According to the report the Laos zone “appears more like an extension of China”—running on Beijing time, employing mostly Chinese workers and displaying signs in Chinese characters.

Tiger under pressure
Graphic on the world’s remaining wild tigers

Similar temples of excess have sprung up in Myanmar where some border towns—often outside of central government control—have become open markets renowned for selling rare animals, sex and gambling trips to Chinese visitors.

China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for rare animal meat and parts has also led to a thriving smuggling scene across much of Southeast Asia.

Authorities in Vietnam and Thailand routinely uncover large hauls of endangered animals heading north in what conservationists say is likely just a fraction of the species smuggled into China.

© 2015 AFP

“Tiger meat, bear paws openly available in Laos: NGO.” March 19th, 2015. http://phys.org/news/2015-03-tiger-meat-paws-openly-laos.html

March 6, 2015

Australia: Press Laos to Respect

Australia: Press Laos to Respect Rights

Rights Respond on Sombath Somphone; Set Strong Benchmarks for Reform in Dialogue

March 2, 2015

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/03/02/australia-press-laos-respect-rights

“Australia should make sure that this human rights dialogue doesn’t become just an exercise in empty rhetoric. It’s an opportunity to really press the Lao government on sensitive issues and demand meaningful outcomes.” Elaine Pearson, Australia director

(Sydney) – Australia should use its upcoming human rights dialogue with Laos to raise human rights concerns and set concrete benchmarks for reform, Human Rights Watch said today. The dialogue, scheduled to be held in Canberra on March 5, 2015, is a crucial opportunity to push the government of Laos to take real action on rights ahead of Laos chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2016.

In a submission to the Australian government, Human Rights Watch urged officials to raise concerns with their Lao counterparts about the enforced disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone, increased restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, violations of labor rights, and abusive drug detention centers.

“Australia should make sure that this human rights dialogue doesn’t become just an exercise in empty rhetoric,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director. “It’s an opportunity to really press the Lao government on sensitive issues and demand meaningful outcomes.”

This is the fourth such dialogue with Laos, and the first one to be held in Australia. Australia committed funding from 2012 to 2015 to support the Lao government’s human rights activities. The Australian government should review all assistance in funding, programming, and activities in Laos to ensure that it is not contributing to policies and programs that violate human rights.

Laos has repeatedly responded with silence or denial to all questions about the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone in Vientiane in December 2012. He was last seen on the evening of December 15, 2012, in Vientiane. Lao public surveillance CCTV footage revealed that police stopped Sombath’s car at a police post. Within minutes after being stopped, unknown individuals forced him into another vehicle and drove away. Analysis of the video shows that Sombath Somphone was taken away in the presence of police officers who witnessed the abduction and failed to intervene – a fact that strongly suggests government complicity.

Australia should use this opportunity to press Lao for information about his fate or whereabouts. At the United Nations Human Rights Council review of Laos in Geneva in January 2015, Australia had called for a credible investigation into Sombath Somphone’s enforced disappearance and raised concerns about Internet censorship and shrinking space for civil society on human rights.

Australia should back up its public statements at the Human Rights Council with strong public and private messages at the human rights dialogue. The Lao government has been intensifying its crackdown on freedom of speech, association, and assembly. In September 2014, the government adopted a restrictive Internet decree that sharply limits the types of information that can be shared, effectively expanding government interference and control. Australia should encourage the government of Laos to reform this decree to ensure that it aligns with international standards protecting freedom of speech and expression.

The Lao government violates the right to freedom of association for workers both in law and in practice. All unions must be part of the government-controlled Lao Federation of Trade Unions. Subsequently, all workers are prohibited from establishing or joining a trade union of their choosing. Australia should get a firm commitment from the Lao government to amend the Trade Union Act and the Labor Act to bring them into full compliance with international labor standards.

The Lao government also maintains a system of drug detention centers, where people suspected of using drugs, beggars, homeless people, children, and people with mental illness are held without a court ruling, judicial oversight, or an ability to appeal. Australia should urge Laos to commit to closing all drug detention centers and carry out prompt investigations into allegations of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment in these centers.

“Australia should make its dialogues with Lao worthwhile by issuing public statements of outcomes that set clear benchmarks for improvement,” Pearson said. “If Laos wants Australia’s continuing support on human rights, it needs to answer where Sombath Somphone is, commit to measurable changes, and show signs of genuine reform.”

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