VIENTIANE, Laos & WASHINGTON--()--A coalition of Laotian and Hmong organizations have issued a joint statement with the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) urging Laos to release political and religious dissidents, and jailed American citizens, prior to an upcoming communist party congress.
“The Lao and Hmong-American community is appealing to Laos to immediately release the Laotian student protesters and thousands of Lao Hmong refugees recently forced back to Laos”
The international appeal also urges Laos to halt illegal logging by Vietnam People's Army-owned companies and release thousands of Lao Hmong refugees forcibly repatriated from Thailand.
The communist party congress of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) is being held from March 17-21.
“There needs to be transparency by the Lao communist government and a voice for the voiceless, suffering people of Laos,” said Khampoua Naovarangsy an internet blogger for the Laos Institute for Democracy (LIFD).
“We are appealing to the Lao regime to immediately release the peaceful Lao student leaders, Pastor Wanna, and others who seek political reform and religious freedom in Laos,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. (ULDL).
“Clearly, we are concerned about egregious human rights violations in
Laos and the continued imprisonment of Lao political and religious
dissidents as well as Hmong refugees and American citizens,” said Philip
Smith, Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.
“The Lao communist party is losing more credibility with the Laotian people, in part, because it continues to take a closed-door, monopolistic approach to governing,” Smith said. “It has repeatedly failed to provide international access to, or release, prisoners of conscience as well as Lao Hmong political refugees.”
“The Lao and Hmong-American community is appealing to Laos to immediately release the Laotian student protesters and thousands of Lao Hmong refugees recently forced back to Laos,” said Christy Lee, of Hmong Advance, Inc. (HAI). “We want the communist regime in Laos to stop its terrible human rights and religious freedom violations against the Lao Hmong refugees and its own freedom-loving Laotian people; We are especially concerned that Lao and Hmong Christians, and independent Buddhist and Animist believers, are now being arrested, tortured and killed in Laos by the LPDR regime.”
“Now, we are concerned about the arrest and beating of Christian Pastor Wanna in Laos as well as other independent Christian, Buddhist and Animist religious believers who seek to worship independently from the Lao communist party's monitoring and control,” said Boon Boulaphanh, of United Lao for Human Rights and Democracy (ULHRD).
The international appeal states:
“We appeal to the Lao communist party authorities to release all political and religious dissidents, as well as some 8,000 Lao Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers, as a gesture of goodwill prior to the start of the ninth communist party congress…
“Our eight point international appeal requests that the Lao government and communist party, the Lao People's Revolutionary Party: First, release the imprisoned leaders of the Lao Students’ Movement for Democracy, who, on October 26, 1999, staged peaceful, anti-government protests;
“Second, provide unfettered international access, and third-country resettlement, to some 8,000 Lao Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers forcibly repatriated from Thailand to Laos in December of 2009;
“Third, release the Lao Hmong translator, and guide, arrested in 2003, and still jailed, for assisting two European journalists Thierry Falise and Vincent Reynaud, and American pastor Naw Karl Mua, in seeking to provide press coverage about the plight of those Laotian and Hmong in Laos suffering political and religious freedom violations;
“Fourth, cease all religious freedom violations, persecution and harassment of independent Laotian and Hmong Christian, Animist and Buddhist believers, including Laotian Christian Pastor Wanna, who has been repeatedly arrested and beaten...;
“Fifth, abide by the resolutions of the European Parliament and U.S. Congress urging the LPRD regime to cease human rights violations and abide by international law;
“Sixth, provide international access to, and release, the three American citizens, from St. Paul, Minnesota, arrested in August 2007, and still imprisoned in Laos, including Hakit Yang, Cong Shineng Yang, and Trillion Yunhaison;
“Seventh, provide international access to, and release, the group of Laotian political refugees forcibly repatriated from Thailand to Laos who were alleged to have been involved in the July 3-4, 2000, Ban Vang Tao cross-border raid by some 60 anti-Lao government insurgents;
“Eighth, …cease the ongoing illegal logging in Laos, by Vietnamese military owned companies of the Vietnam People’s Army, which seriously threatens the environment and national sovereignty of Laos as well as the human rights of many of the forest-dwelling minority peoples, including the Lao Hmong, Khmu, Mien, Yao, Lahu and other Laotians,” the appeal concluded.
The international appeal was issued by the CPPA, LIFD, ULDL, ULHRD, HAI, the Lao Veterans of America, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc., and others.