Laos, Obama Urged By Rights Groups, Hmong, to Free 3 Americans

WASHINGTON & MINNEAPOLIS & ST. PAUL, Minn.--()--A coalition of Laotian and Hmong non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), have joined the families of three Hmong-Americans from Minnesota in issuing an international appeal for the release of their relatives who have been imprisoned in Laos for over three years. The appeal requests that the Lao government, and U.S. President Barack Obama, work at a higher diplomatic level, with urgent priority, to release the three Hmong-American citizens.

In August 2007, for unknown reasons, Lao People's Army (LPA) troops and secret police arrested the three Americans: Mr. Hakit Yang, 24; Mr. Congshineng Yang, 34; and Mr. Trillion Yunhaison, 44.

The Hmong-Americans remain imprisoned in Laos' Sam Neua province by LPA troops and secret police. The three are being held without charges being filed, or due process, according to the Foreign Prisoners Support Service (FPSS), the CPPA, human rights organizations, family members and others.

Mrs. Sheng Xiong, a spokeswoman for the families, and Philip Smith of the CPPA, spoke to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) about the case.

“I just wish the Lao government would be upfront ...,” Xiong told MPR.

“We want answers now from the Lao government about the arrest and continued imprisonment of my husband, Hakit Yang, and the other two Hmong-Americans...,” Xiong, stated further.

“We would like to ask the President, Barack Obama, and the U.S. Government, to please seriously help to press the Lao military and government to cooperate in telling the truth about the arrest and imprisonment of our families in Laos so that they can be released and come home to their loved ones, including their wives and children,” Mrs. Xiong said.

“Our Lao Hmong families, and the community in St. Paul and Minneapolis, are appealing to the Lao government... to release my husband, Hakit Yang, and his colleagues...,” Xiong commented.

“We are grateful to Kay Danes and the FPSS in Australia for helping to bring new and updated information, and evidence, about the arrest and continued jailing of my husband in Laos-- and we appreciate her book 'Standing Ground' regarding... the plight of prisoners at Phonthong Prison, in Vientiane, where my husband was jailed...,” Xiong concluded.

“The LPA, and secret police, later moved the three Americans, including Sheng Xiong's husband Hakit Yang, from Xieng Khouang province, where they were arrested, to Laos' notorious Phonthong Prison, in the capital of Vientiane, where the men were interrogated, beaten and tortured, according to eyewitness and multiple sources...,” said Philip Smith, Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.

“In 2009, the three Hmong-American men were again moved... and are now being held in a secret LPA military-operated prison camp in Sam Neua Province, Laos,” Smith stated. “We are urging President Obama to press the Lao military and government, at a higher diplomatic level, to release the three Americans...”

“Additionally, we are also appealing to President Obama, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to assist with the release of other Lao and Hmong political prisoners and religious dissidents in Laos...,” Smith concluded.

“We condemn, in the strongest terms, the continued imprisonment by the Lao military and communist officials in Laos of Mr. Hakit Yang, Mr. Conghineng Yang and Trillion Yunhaison, who are U.S. citizens still being held without charge in horrific conditions in Laos by the LPA and secret police,” said Christy Lee, Director of Hmong Advance, Inc. (HAI) in Washington, D.C.

The NGOs joining the Hmong-American families in urging Laos, and the White House, to help release the Americans include the CPPA, HAI, Hmong Advancement, United Lao for Human Rights and Democracy, Lao Human Rights Council, Hmong Students Association, Lao Students for Democracy, United League for Democracy in Laos, Laos Institute for Democracy and Lao Veterans of America.

On March 16, the CPPA issued an appeal regarding the imprisoned Hmong-Americans and human rights violations in Laos.

CPPA - Center for Public Policy Analysis


Center for Public Policy Analysis
Helen Cruz, 202-543-1444


Center for Public Policy Analysis
Helen Cruz, 202-543-1444