United League for Democracy in Laos Demands Release of Vientiane Student Protesters
Many of the statements released today by Laos and Hmong human rights groups as well as non-governmental organizations were presented in Washington, D.C. at a Laos National Conference and policy events held in the U.S. Congress and Washington, D.C. from October 21-26, 2008.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia, and Paris, France, November 15, 2008 - On October 26, 2008, on the occasion of the 9th anniversary of Lao student anti-government demonstration in Vientiane, Laos, a coalition of non-governmental organizations ( NGOs ) and human rights groups in Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia and Paris, France joined in commemorating the anniversary of the peaceful pro-democracy protests and called for the release of Thongpaseuth Keakhon and the other Lao student leaders. http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA260042000?open&of=ENG-LAO
The Lao Students Movement for Democracy, the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc., the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. the. Lao Veterans of America, Inc., The Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR ), the Center for Public Policy Analysis and other organizations released excerpts of their statements on October 26, 2008 to honor the Lao student protesters and call for the release of the students and other jailed Lao and Hmong dissidents and refugees.
Many of the statements released today were presented in Washington, D.C. at a Laos National Conference and policy events held in the U.S. Congress and Washington, D.C. from October 21-26, 2008.
“Despite the continued outcry of Amnesty International and international human rights groups, the Vientiane, Laos student protestors of the ‘Lao Students Movement of October 26, 1999’ continue to be harshly imprisoned in by communist authorities for peacefully urging political and economic reform in Laos and a open society,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C.
“The U.S. Congress, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations as well as Lao and Hmong-American organizations are urging that the Lao military and Communist leadership in Vientiane immediately release Thongpaseuth Keakhon and the other Lao students leaders that it has illegally imprisoned for 9 years since October 1999 in violation of international law and fundamental human rights standards,” Smith said. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1069172.html
“The Lao government’s statement that they have released Lao student protest leader Thongpaseuth Keuakhon it not true, we know that Thongpaseuth and the other Lao student anti-government protest leaders are being held in Sam Khe Prison in Vientiane,” stated Oudong Saysana, Advisor to the Lao Students Movement for Democracy.
“The Lao government should immediately and unconditionally release the Lao student leaders that continue to suffer in jail in Laos for their peaceful protests in Vientiane in October 1999 to seek to bring about democracy, human rights and economic reform in Laos,” Oudong Saysana stated on behalf of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy.
"The LPDR regime in Laos has sent hundreds of Laotian and Hmong refugee leaders and Lao Hmong refugees from Ban Huay Nam Khao to reeducation camps in Laos where they are imprisoned are persecuted, some have been killed or have disappeared," said Vaughn Vang, Executive Director of the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. "The Lao authorities should immediately release the Lao students, Hmong refugees and other political prisoners and political refugees who are seeking asylum in third countries because of persecution and human rights violations." http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1077936.html http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1077933.html
“Many of the Lao students of the October 26, 1999 Movement were protesting corruption in the Lao military and among Lao Communist Party officials,” said Thongchanh Boulum of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. “The students, including Lao student leader Thongpaseuth Keuakhon, continue to be imprisoned in Laos by Lao military and security forces of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) despite the official lies, propaganda and denial of the LPDR communist party officials who say they have been released.“
“The Lao military should immediately release the Lao student leaders, including Thongpaseuth Keuakhon, who have now been jailed in Laos for 9 long years for peacefully protesting against the Lao communist regime and the need for political change and economic reform,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. in Washington, D.C.
“The Lao student leaders are still being jailed in Sam Khe Prison ( Samakhy Prison ) in Vientiane, Laos, because they want to bring economic and political change in Laos and end the exploitation of the Lao people and the terribly corrupt one-party rule of the Communist LPDR military dictatorship that is a puppet of the military generals in Hanoi; the Lao students demonstrated with moral and political courage to seek to bring about peaceful change and reform in Laos and freedom from the corrupt domination of Laos by a Stalinist, one-party communist regime,” Bounthanh Rathigna stated.
Bounthanh Rathigna continued: “It is important for the Lao people to remember and never forget, that on October 26, 1999, the corrupt and evil, one-party LPDR communist regime in Laos and its military backers in Hanoi used unnecessary and brutal force against the unarmed and peaceful pro-democracy Lao Student Movement for Democracy demonstrators, who are our sons and daughters of Laos. The Lao LPDR party, and their communist party puppet masters in Hanoi, Vietnam, who are fearful of the truth and political opposition for sharing power, unjustly and cruelly used their secret police and guns to arrest, imprison and torture the Lao students and their families in violation of international law and human rights norms. “
Bounthanh Rathigna of the United League for Democracy in Laos further observed: “As a result of these brutal atrocities by the Lao military and LPDR regime against the peace and freedom-loving Lao students, and Lao people, in Vientiane in October 1999, the Ban Vang Thao Patriots Movement was given birth to, apparently and naturally to strike back and avenge the egregious violations by the Communist regime against of the Lao people and raise the beloved and traditional flag of freedom of Laos, Lan Xang, the Kingdom of a Million Elephants, over the sacred Lao soil once again. For this reason, the non-violent Lao student movement gave way, because of the institutional violence perpetrated by the LPDR regime against its own people, to the Ban Vang Tao fighters who patriotically sought to fight against the oppressive, one-party communist LPDR regime and raise the Royal Lao flag, as a reminder of Lao nationalism and patriotism and our traditional homeland that the corrupt military generals in Vietnam and Laos have exploited, raped and impoverished. Moreover, to this day, the LPDR military with the help of Vietnam’s invading and occupational troops and army continue to also kill the ethnic Lao-Hmong people because they also wish to live in peace and freedom and to practice their human rights and religious beliefs free from the control of the LPDR communist regime and the military forces of the corrupt leadership in Hanoi, Vietnam and Vientiane.”
“We, therefore, call upon the Lao government and LPDR to immediately release the peaceful Lao student demonstrators on the 9th anniversary of their betrayal and arrest and also the Ban Vang Tao dissidents and freedom fighters; We want the LPDR regime to demand the immediate withdrawal of Vietnam’s troops and security forces from Laos ,” Bounthanh Rathigna concluded.
The Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR ) spearheaded international efforts on behalf of the imprisoned Lao student leaders in Vientiane by releasing the following statement from Paris, France on October 26, 2008 to commemorate the sacrifices and courage of Lao student leaders who opposed the monopoly on political power of the LPDR communist regime in Laos:
"LAOS: '9th Anniversary of the 'Student Movement of 26 October -- The Flame of hope is always burning'
Nine years after the 'Movement of 26 October 1999' - this attempt for a peaceful walk of students, teachers and Lao citizens that was violently repressed by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) totalitarian régime- the flame of hope is always burning and brightening more each day in the heart of the Lao people.
A first mass protest against the government during the last three decades that begun in 1975, this event has become for the Lao democrats, inside and outside the country, a symbol and a major step of a pacific struggle for the installation of freedom, democracy, justice and a national reconciliation in the country.
On this Sunday, 26 October 2008, The Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR ) salutes the courage, the determination and the sacrifice of these freedom defenders whose leaders have been held these last nine years under inhuman conditions in the prison of Laos, even though the leaders of the One Party State have declared, without given concrete proofs that these persons have already been released.
According to reliable information, Ministers Thongpaseuth KEUAKOUN, Seng-aloun PHENGPHANH, Bouavanh CHANMANIVONG, and KEOCHAY are always imprisoned, while their companion, Mr. Khamphouvieng SISA-AT, died in prison under torture and deprivation in 2001. The plight of the leaders of this peaceful movement remains a priority for the LMHR.
On this 9th anniversary, the LMHR and all the Lao democrats renew their gratitude to the action of the five members of the Transnational Radical party who protested peacefully on 26 October 2001 in Vientiane to recall the appeals made by the “Movement of 26 October 1999”, an event that the totalitarian régime tried by every way to hide from the Lao people and the international community. To have undertaken this courageous initiative, a member of the European Parliament, Mr. Olivier DUPUIS, and four activists from the Transnational Radical Party -- Bruno MELLANO, Silvja MANZI, Massimo LENSI and Nikolaï KHRAMOV --were arrested, emprisoned during 14 days, condemned during a sham trial then expelled from the LPDR.
Since that day, mobilization has not ceased to highlight the struggle of the Movement of 26 October and to carry on pacific actions for democratic reforms and human rights respect in Laos.
Resolutions have been adopted by the European Parliament, the US Congress, and the Italian Parliament. Petitions, signed by more than hundred members of the European Parliament have been sent to the LPDR leaders to claim for the release of the leaders of the Movement of 26 October, the release of every political prisoner and prisoner of conscience and to ask for democratic reforms. Protest have been organised throughout the world to denounce human rights violations committed by the LPDR leaders.
The flame of hope keeps on being contagious. On August 25th, 2008 in Brussels, the LMHR raised the plight of the leaders of the Movement of 26 October 1999 and the violations of the human rights in Laos to the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament which announced an ‘’ independent fact finding commission’’ to investigate inside the country. On October 14th, 2008, a resolution was presented by a Commission of the Italian Parliament, calling for democratic reforms in the LPDR.
The Lao Movement for Human Rights maintains its determination to acquire, together with the Lao democrats and the international community, the installation of freedom and democracy in Laos and 'TO KEEP BRIGHT THE FLAME OF HOPE OF THE “MOVEMENT OF 26 OCTOBER 1999'."
( end---The International Communique of the Lao Movement for Human Rights, October 26,2008-- )
Ms. Anna Jones
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