Laos: Mass Arrests of 346 Protesters Prior to SEA Games
"Multiple sources in Laos as well as their families in the Laotian Diaspora community have confirmed the arrest and imprisonment of 346 Laotian students and demonstrators in Vientiane and elsewhere in Laos by the LPDR secret police and military in what is clearly a major crackdown following the 10th anniversary of the student protest in Vientiane in 1999," said Philip Smith, of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Vientiane, Laos, Bangkok, Thailand, Paris, France and Washington, D.C., November 4, 2009
Laotian and Hmong human rights organizations have issued statements condemning the new crackdown and urging the release of the Laotian protesters. The Paris, France-based Lao Movement for Human Rights ( MLDH - Mouvement Lao pour les Droits l’Homme, or LMHR ) ), the Lao Students Movement for Democracy ( LSMD ), the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. ( ULDL ) the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) and other organizations have issued statements and appeals about the arrests of the some 300 Laotians in recent days.
Vanida S. Thephsouvanh and the MLDH have also issued an international communiqué and statement from Paris, France, regarding the recent arrests in Laos.
“It is urgent for the world to know that now, in Laos, over 300 people involved with organizing peaceful protests against the Lao government were arrested in mass arrests by the Lao communist regime in recent days, starting on November 2, 2009, in Vientiane,” said Oudong Saysana of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy ( LSMD ).
“These were peaceful Laotian protesters seeking to organize demonstrations in support of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy and for reform as well as political and economic justice and human rights in Laos,” Mr. Saysana said on behalf of the LSMD and Lao students.
“The 346 Lao peaceful demonstrators and organizers recently arrested in Laos were seeking to demonstrate and stand-up for the Lao nation and in opposition to the corruption and widespread violation of human rights by the LPDR communist regime. The Lao people and demonstrators want economic and political reform and positive change in Laos. They were arrested because they peacefully opposed the LPDR one-party military dictatorship and instead they support the pro-democracy student demonstrations of 1999 and other political and religious dissident groups seeking political liberty and religious freedom. Clearly, the freedom-loving Lao people want the Vietnamese troops and Vietnam generals in Hanoi to get out of Laos and stop their current intervention to support the LPDR communist puppet regime which the people dislike and oppose because it is a failed and corrupt, communist military dictatorship,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President, of the United League for Democracy in Laos ( ULDL ).
The Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) is a one-party communist regime closely allied to Burma and North Korea. It is ruled by a military junta of elderly Stalinist generals.
Laos will host the Southeast Asia Games ( SEA Games ) in December in Vientiane and the LPDR has increased its military and security force operations against Laotian and Hmong civilians as well as political and religious dissidents in recent months. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam ( SRV ) and Vietnam Peoples Army have increased their military operations and security force intervention in Laos in support of the Lao Peoples Army ( LPA ), especially in attacks against Laotian and Hmong civilians and dissidents hiding in the jungles and mountains of Laos, including Lao and Hmong Christians and dissident Buddhist and Animist believers.
In October of 1999, Lao Student demonstrators staged peaceful protests in Vientiane, Laos against the one-party authoritarian regime seeking political change and reform of the corrupt and oppressive police state. They were brutally arrested and imprisoned, some of the students escaped an were given political asylum in the United States.
October 26, 2009, marked the 10th anniversary of student anti-government protests in Laos.
“Multiple sources in Laos as well as their families in the Laotian Diaspora community have confirmed the arrest and imprisonment of 346 Laotian students and demonstrators in Vientiane and elsewhere in Laos by the LPDR secret police and military in what is clearly a major crackdown following the 10th anniversary of the student protest in Vientiane in 1999,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C.
“Thousand of Laotian and Hmong civilians, including women and children, have been starved to death and killed in recent months and years in Laos by LPA troops and security forces who have raped and committed other horrific atrocities against innocent civilians, ethnic minorities and dissident groups,” continued Smith.
Smith said further: “The new arrests and imprisonment of over 300 Lao students and peaceful protesters this month is clearly part of a much wider strategy and crackdown in Laos by the Lao Peoples Army and Vietnam Peoples Army prior to the start of the SEA Games; In recent days and weeks, hundreds of innocent Laotian and Hmong in Laos have been abducted, arrested, imprisoned, killed or have simply disappeared, especially in the recent crackdown by the LPDR secret policy and ethnic cleansing operations by the LPA and VPA military in Xieng Khouang Province, Luang Prabang Province, Khammoune Province, Savanakhet, Vientiane Province and elsewhere in Laos.”
The following is the text of the international communiqué and statement by the Lao Movement for Human Rights ( MLDH ) and its President, Vanida S. Thephsouvanh, issued yesterday evening, November 3, 2009, from Paris, France:
New attempt for a peaceful protest in Vientiane-More than 300 arrests
More than 300 persons, who were preparing for a peaceful protest in Vientiane to call for "human rights respect" and a "multipartite system" were arrested on Monday 2 November 2009 by the "secret police" of the Lao People's Democratic Republic ( LPDR ), according to information received today by the Lao Movement for Human Rights ( MLDH ).
The source detailed that "several hundred persons" ... have been "imultaneously arrested at diffrent places in the country'' early in the morning of November 2nd, 2009 : "more than 100 persons at Pakkading, Bolikhamsay province ( Center ), more than 20 persons at Phon Hong, Vientiane province ( Center ) while they were travelling to the That Luang annual festival in Vientiane ( Center ), and more than 200 persons in the capital, before they were able to gather together for a peaceful protest."
The 2 November 2009 protest aimed to claim for "a real democracy, human rights respect, the cancellation of the Laos-Vietnam Cooperation Treaty of 1977, the release of all political prisoners and a multipartite system," as reported by information sent from inside the LPDR.
If the majority of the persons arrested yesterday have been released, many of them are still detained at this moment, among whom "Mrs Kingkeo ( 39 ), Misters Soubin ( 35 ), Souane ( 50 ), Sinpasong ( 43 ) and Khamsone ( 36 ) arrested in Phon Hong; Mr Nou ( 54 ) arrested in Pakkading; Ms Somchit ( 29 ), Misters Somkhit ( 28 ) and Sourigna ( 26 ) arrested in Vientiane," according to this same information.
The Lao Movement for Human Rights is highly concerned by these disturbing news and asks the LPDR authorities to account clear explanations of these arrests and to immediately release these persons whose only action seem to wish for a peaceful protest in favor of democracy and human rights.
The Lao Movement for Human Rights sadly notes that these alarming news come only a month after the ratification by the LPDR of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR ) which guarantees to the Lao people the freedom of belief, freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, as well as the rights to protest and political rights.
The news also happened a week after the 10thanniversary of the "'Student Movement of 26 October 1999' whose leaders have been imprisoned for 10 years in the LPDR jails.”
( End International Communique Lao Movement for Human Rights, November 3, 2009, Paris, France )
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