Laos, Hmong Community of Minnesota Speaks in U.S. Congress
"We want to know why Hakit Yang and the two other Lao Hmong-Americans from St. Paul, Minnesota, who were arrested and imprisoned in Laos in 2007 have not been released yet by the LPDR regime and we want to know why their families have not been allowed to visit them yet ?" asked Boon Boualaphanh a leader in Lao community in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota, May 8, 2009 - A special session of the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos was held from 9:00 A.M.-11:30 A.M. on Friday, April 17, 2009, in Room 2105 Rayburn House Office Building, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
The event was entitled: "Laos, Hmong Crisis: Refugees, Political Prisoners and Human Rights Violations in Thailand and Laos."
Twin cities Lao and Hmong community leaders and delegations from St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota spoke at the event including Boon Boualaphanh, Sheng Xiong, Phoumy Phanthavong, Phoukieo Khaochomphonh and others.
"The Laotian and Hmong community across the United States and the Diaspora community worldwide remain concerned about the current Lao Hmong refugee and human rights crisis in Laos and the Lao military's campaign of ethnic cleansing and mass starvation of thousands of unarmed Laotian and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissident groups in hiding in Laos," said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C. which cosponsored the events in Washington, D.C. and Capitol Hill with Members of the U.S. Congress.
"Key topics of discussion at the Congressional Forum on Laos and the Laos National Policy Conference included the increased religious freedom violations in Laos and the persecution, disappearance and killing of Laotian and Hmong Protestant Christians, Catholics, Animists and Buddhists by the Lao regime and its military and security forces as well as the continued imprisonment of Hakit Yang of St. Paul, Minnesota and his colleagues and the peaceful Lao student demonstrators of the October 1999 Movement in Vientiane, Laos," Smith concluded. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1090786.html http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1090417.html
Invited keynote speakers and participants included: Members of Congress and U.S. Congressional staff; Mrs. Kay Danes, Australian author and human rights advocate; Orlando Tizon, former torture victim and political prisoner and Elizabeth Magana, Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International; Philip Smith, Executive Director, Center for Public Policy Analysis; Bounthanh Rathigna, President, and Thongchanh Boulom, Chairman, United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc.; Sheng Xiong, spokesperson for Hmong-American citizens of Minnesota imprisoned in Laos; Boon Boualaphanh, Lao Community of Minnesota; Vaughn Vang, Hmong Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. of Wisconsin; Colonel Khamthene Chinyavong, Laos Community of Virginia; Colonel Phouthasene, Lao Community of Pennsylvania; Oudong Saysana, Lao Students Movement for Democracy; Wangyee Vang, Lao Veterans of America Institute, Christine Ly, Lao Hmong Community of New England, Khamphoua Naovarangsy, Laos Institute for Democracy and others.
Mrs. Kay Danes, Australian author, social activist and former political prisoner in Laos was one of the keynote speakers. Kay Danes' new book, “Standing Ground,” was discussed in the context of current refugee, human rights and political-economic developments in Laos and Thailand. Kay Danes was imprisoned in the notorious Phonthong Prison in Laos where she was both a witness and victim of torture.
Sheng Xiong is a Hmong-American citizen from St. Paul, Minnesota; Her husband, Mr. Hakit Yang, was arrested and imprisoned in Phonthong Prison in Laos in 2007 by Lao military and security forces along with two other U.S. citizens. Hakit Yang and his two colleagues are still be held in a secret jail in Laos by Lao authorities without charge and without due process.
The emergency plight of some 6,000 Lao Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province, and Nong Khai, Thailand who are faced with dire humanitarian conditions and forced repatriation back to Laos was discussed.
The egregious human rights situation in Laos was one of the key topics of discussion including issues of political and religious persecution.
Excerpts of the statements of a number of keynote speakers are in the process of being transcribed and released. The following are excerpts of the comments of Boon Boualaphanh, of the Lao Community of Minnesota:
"Greetings and good morning Members of Congress, U.S. Congressional staff, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Boon Boualaphanh. Also with me today are six ( 6 ) Lao community leaders members representing the Lao community in Minnesota and the chapter of United Leagues Democracy for Laos, Inc. Chapter in Minnesota.
On behalf of the Laotian community, especially in Minnesota, I would like to thank everyone one here, especially our Members of the U.S. Congress, Mr. Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis and Mrs. Kay Danes of Australia, author and human rights advocate.
The reason I am here today, with many of my colleagues from the Lao community in Minnesota and the United States, including the United League for Democracy in Laos, is to seek to bring true human rights, real democracy and basic freedom to our country, Laos, and its suffering people who are terribly oppressed and impoverished by the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) military regime. We seek the support of the United Nations and the U.S. Congress in this effort to bring positive change to Laos.
Our country, Laos, needs more than one political party, not just the Stalinist LPDR’s communist party. Laos needs free and fair elections that are monitored by the international community and the United Nations. We the Lao American community are urging the U.S. Congress to support effort.
Regarding the thousands of Lao Hmong political refugees who have fled political and religious persecution in Laos, we request help from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR ) to screen and relocate over six thousand ( 6,000 ) Hmong and Laotians from Ban Huay Nam Khao detention camp, Phetchanbun Province, Thailand. The freedom-loving Laotian community in the United States and internationally are urging the international community and the UNHCR, with the help of the U.S. Congress, to help the Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand so that they can be granted asylum in other third countries such as Australia, France, Canada and the United States.
We must press the LPDR communist regime, and its corrupt communist rulers, from selling land in Laos to foreign countries and keeping the money for their private bank accounts. We also need to press the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s ( SRV ) to remove its military, secret police and communist officials and get them out of Laos. SRV and Vietnamese army troops and Vietnamese owned companies continue to occupy and exploit Laos and oppress and kill the Laotian and Hmong people. Vietnam’s illegal logging and illegal mining of Laos’ natural resources by its Army and military must be stop by the international community and human rights and environmental organizations.
We are also calling upon the United Nations and international human rights organizations to help locate the King and Queen of Laos, who were loved by the people of the Kingdom of Laos, and who disappeared at the hands of the Lao communist officials and were imprisoned. Where are the King and Queen of Laos ?
Others who have disappeared in the Lao communist prison, gulag and reeducation system include Mr. Phengphongsavanh and the following Royal Lao generals and officers; Bounpone Marktheppharack, Nonphet Daoheuang, Banlang and Thaoly.
The Lao Community and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the United League for Democracy in Laos also want, and are calling for, the immediate release of Mr. Keuakorm Thongpraseuth who was a student at the demonstrations on October 26, 1999, in Vientiane, Laos in support of democratic and economic change and political reform in Laos. He was arrested by LPDR security police and Lao military forces along with the other student demonstrators in October 1999. Why is still being held in jail in Laos with many of the other students and their families who were peacefully protesting against the corrupt LPDR communist regime and its monopoly on political power ?
We want to know why Hakit Yang and the two other Lao Hmong-Americans from St. Paul, Minnesota, who were arrested and imprisoned in Laos in 2007 have not been released yet by the LPDR regime and we want to know why their families have not been allowed to visit them yet ? They should be immediately released by the Lao government so they can return to their families in Minnesota.
Thank you very much, God bless everyone and the United State of America.
( --end statement of Mr. Boon Boualaphanh, Lao community of Minnesota, U.S. Congress, April 17, 2009, Washington, D.C.-- )
Laotian and Hmong community leaders and delegations from Minnesota New York, Pennsylvania, California, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Virginia, Washington and other states participated in the Laos policy and Capitol Hill events.
Contact: Maria Gomez
Center for Public Policy Analysis 2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite No.#212 Washington, D.C. 20006 USA Tele. ( 202 ) 543-1444 Fax ( 202 ) 207-9871
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