St. Paul Hmong Wife Urges Laos To Release Jailed Americans
"Clearly, given the arrest and ongoing imprisonment of Hakit Yang and the Hmong-Americans from St. Paul, Minnesota, these 5,500 Lao Hmong refugees should not be sent back to Laos; there should especially be no more forced repatriations of Lao Hmong refugees from Thailand back to the communist regime in Laos that the refugees fled until Hakit Yang and his America colleagues are released from jail in Sam Neua Province, Laos by the Lao government," said Philip Smith of the CPPA.
(Media-Newswire.com) - St. Paul, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., May 9, 2009 - Sheng Xiong, a spokesperson for the families of Hmong-Americans from St. Paul, Minnesota, arrested and imprisoned in Laos, provided the following statement at a special session of the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos was held on Friday, April 17, 2009, in the Rayburn House Office Building, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. Excerpts of Sheng Xiong’s statement to the U.S. Congress were transcribed and released today.
“Mrs. Sheng Xiong has issued numerous heart-felt and courageous appeals regarding her husband’s arrest and the ongoing imprisoned of the three St. Paul Hmong-Americans in Laos who were seeking business and investment opportunities in Laos,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C. “We now know the three American citizens were transferred from Phonthong Prison in Vientiane, Laos, to a secret prison site in Sam Nuea Province, where they are still being held against their will and with out charge or due process,” Smith concluded. http://presszoom.com/print_story_147295.html
A number of key Twin Cities Lao Hmong community leaders and delegations from St. Paul and Minneapolis spoke at, and participated, in the Capitol Hill and Washington, D.C. policy events including: Mr. Phoukhio Khaochonetham, Mr. Boon Boualaphanh, Mr. Phoumy Phanthavong, Mr. Sangvane Phommachanh, S. Thao, Beth Xiong and others. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1090990.html
Cosponsors, speakers and participants also 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, of the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International ; and, Lao and Hmong community, non-governmental and non-profit organization leaders from across the United States.
Kay Danes, with the Foreign Prisoners Support Service, provided further new information and evidence regarding Hakit Yang’s status and case. She was jailed, as a political prisoner in Laos, in the notorious Phonthong Prison in Vientiane, Laos, where Hakit Yang and the other St. Paul, Minnesota men were held after their arrest. Her new book, “Standing Ground,” details the horrors of Laos and its prison and gulag system under the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) military junta. http://media-newswire.com/printer_friendly_1089564.html
Some 5,500 Lao Hmong political refugees are facing persecution forced repatriation and food supply cut-offs at Ban Huay Nam Khao detention camp in Petchabun Province and Nong Khai, Thailand.
"The 5,500 Lao Hmong refugees now seeking asylum and sanctuary in Thailand fled political and religious persecution in Laos, including a campaign of mass starvation and military attacks by the Lao Army directed at thousands of unarmed Laotian and Hmong civilians," Smith observed.
Smith concluded: "Clearly, given the arrest and ongoing imprisonment of Hakit Yang and the Hmong-Americans from St. Paul, Minnesota, these 5,500 Lao Hmong refugees should not be sent back to Laos; there should especially be no more forced repatriations of Lao Hmong refugees from Thailand back to the communist regime in Laos that the refugees fled until Hakit Yang and his America colleagues are released from jail in Sam Neua Province, Laos by the Lao government."
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and indepent journalists with the BBC, New York Times, Time Magazine and Al Jazerra have documented these human rights violations and atrocities.
The U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos followed a Laos National Policy Conference and press conference held the day before, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 16. The two day national events were entitled: "Laos, Hmong Crisis: Refugees, Political Prisoners and Human Rights Violations in Thailand and Laos." The following is the statement of Mrs. Sheng Xiong, a Hmong-America spokesperson for the families of three St. Paul, Minnesota men who were arrested and imprisoned in Laos by Lao military and security forces since August of 2007:
“I am Sheng Xiong, of St. Paul, Minnesota, the wife of Hakit Yang, an American citizen, and one of the missing people in Laos from the United States.
First of all I would like to thank Members of the U.S. Congress and U.S. Congressional staff and offices, including the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, Mr. Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis, Kay Danes human rights advocate and author from Australia, members of the Washington, D.C. press corps and news media as well as other keynote speakers, participants and supporters that I have not mentioned.
Today is a very important and special day for me. Without the support and help I’ve received from so many of you, I wouldn’t be standing here in front of you all today in Washington, D.C. I may not be able to represent all families who have lost a love one from imprisonment in a foreign country, but I hope that as I share some of my thoughts and feelings, I will gain a step closer to the answers that I’d been seeking for.
I am here today, to speak at this National Policy and Press Conference and in the U.S. Congress, on the behalf of the families of the missing men in Laos, who were arrested and detained by Lao authories and secret police forces on August 25th, 2007. These men are Hakit Yang, Congshineng Yang, and Trillion Yunhansion, American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota. On July 10, 2007 the men departed the United States for Laos to pursue business investment opportunities. The men were staying at the #5 Guest House in Phousavan, Laos when they were arrested by secret police forces. They were detained in Phonthong Prison, Vientiane, Laos, and later transferred to an unknown destination. As of today, the families of Congshineng, Trillion and I have not heard from them, since Trillion’s phone call indicating that they had been arrested for an unknown cause. These men were last seen on August 29th, 2007 when they were being transported to an unknown location in Laos. We have not received any information to what has happened to them since their arrest.
The U.S. Embassy contacted the Lao government who denied having any record of the men entering their country and any U.S. citizens being detained or arrested in Laos. Later, the Lao government changed their previous denials and admitted that the three men from St. Paul, Minnesota, including my husband, did indeed entered Laos, but allegedly claimed that they had departed Laos via the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge on August 29, 2007. Despite repeated requests from the US Embassy no departure cards have ever been produced as evidence for their departure.
It has been over a year, over one year, not knowing where Hakit may be and I wonder everyday and night if he is okay and or somewhere waiting to be saved to reunite with his family. Not for a second do I not think about him. Everyday and night, I wish and pray for the safety of Hakit’s return. I have many supporters who speak positive thoughts and encouragement but at the end of the day, I am alone with my children who are still so young to understand the situation of their father. It is hard to face my children sometimes knowing that their father may not be able to hold them tight in his arms again. It is difficult to think and wonder when I am not sure if their father will be able to be by their sides growing up, and to see them go through their milestones whether small or large.
Each day I wake up hoping that I will hear the good news that my husband, Hakit was found and that every thing will be okay and he will soon be home. It’s hard to concentrate on the things that I usually do daily. I am so frustrated and often times I don’t know what to do anymore. However, I am trying to be strong and focus for the sake of Hakit, my children, and myself. It’s not easy being a mother and a father to two small children at this time but I have to struggle through it and I have no choice. Sometimes I say to myself, it’s my fate and I will have to live with it. Somethings happen for a reason but to accept the imprisonment and then disappearance of my husband in Laos is too much.
I have tried to connect with other families who are currently in the same situation, to support each other emotionally. I am continually seeking help from the US Embassy, the U.S. State Department, and other departments, but there has been no accomplishment pertaining the arrest, or disappearance. I respectfully ask the U.S. Congress, U.S. Embassy in Laos and the U.S. Department of State to continue their further investigation regarding the arrest and imprisonment of my husband and his colleagues from St. Paul in Laos and what has happened to them. I just want truthful answers.”
( --end statement of Mrs. Sheng Xiong at the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos and Laos National Policy Conference, April 16-17, 2009, Washington, D.C., on behalf of Hakit Yang, Congshineng Yang, and Trillion Yunhansion, American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota, and their families in Minneapolis and St. Paul -- )
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