WASHINGTON & BANGKOK & ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Lao Human Rights Council (LHRC), the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), and a coalition of non-governmental organizations are raising concerns about a surge in political violence and ethnic and religious persecution in Laos following the arrest of a prominent Laotian activist and the disappearance of three Lao-American men from Minnesota.
“There is a major surge in political violence and ethnic and religious persecution in Laos following the arrest of Lao civic activist Sombath Somphone and the disappearance of three Lao-American men from Minnesota who traveled recently to Laos,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based CPPA.
“The abduction of Mr. Sombath Somphone, who disappeared at the hands of Laotian security forces in December, was discussed at the European Parliament on February 7th,” Smith stated. “Regrettably, the Lao regime has still not released Sombath as requested in a resolution passed by the European Union.”
Sombath Somphone is a Ramon Magsaysay Award-winner.
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.
“Instead of releasing Mr. Sombath, and others unjustly imprisoned in Laos, it is clear that Lao security forces, including the military and secret police, are once again violently cracking down on key elements of society in Laos to seek to maintain political power and economic control,” Smith said.
“Many visiting Lao- and Hmong-Americans are also being targeted by the regime,” Smith commented.
“The Marxist regime in Laos is engaged in a new and intensified round of military attacks and brutal security force operations, including those on February 22nd that killed four innocent Hmong civilians,” Smith concluded. http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org
“Lao-Hmong villagers were arbitrarily attacked by Lao soldiers who killed four Hmong people and wounded one other,” 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,” Vang stated. “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,” Vang observed.
Mr. Vang continued: “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.”
Vang lamented: “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.”