Laos, Vietnam Crisis: Activists Mobilize for Human Rights, Religious Freedom Before SEA Games

In Vientiane, hundreds of Lao and Hmong students and activists have sought to organize peaceful demonstrations in Laos against widespread government corruption and Stalinist policies in the one-party communist regime.

Online PR News – 07-November-2009 – – Chang Mai, Thailand, Washington, D.C., Luang Prabang, Laos, November 6, 2009

Aging communist leaders in Laos and Vietnam have failed to halt a growing movement for human rights and political and religious freedom in Laos. The reform movement in Laos threats increased civil unrest and to potentially plunge Laos into chaos prior to the start of the SEA games as Laotians seek an open society and fundamental liberties.

In Vientiane, hundreds of Lao and Hmong students and activists have sought to organize peaceful demonstrations in Laos against widespread government corruption and Stalinist policies in the one-party communist regime. Demonstrators have urge peaceful civil disobedience and protests against the military regime in Laos and the increased presence of Vietnamese troops and security forces in Laos who are viewed as exploiting and occupying Laos. The reform movement for peaceful change is spreading among the Laotian and Hmong people.

Sources in Laos and the Lao government are reporting that secret police in Laos are now going door-to-door in key areas of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khouang and elsewhere in Laos arresting Lao and Hmong suspects allegedly affiliated with organizing anti-government rallies from November 2-5, 2009. According to sources in Laos, 13 more people were arrested today in Vientiane. The new arrests brings to 359 the known Laotian people arrested, or jailed, by the LPA and Lao secret police since November 2, 2009, prior to the start of the Southeast Asia games ( SEA games) in December.

In New York, the United Nations and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is being urged to address the humanitarian and human rights crisis by Laotian and Hmong non-governmental organizations. The plight of imprisoned Lao Student leaders is of deep continued concern by Amnesty International and the human rights community.

According to sources in Laos, the anti-government movement has spread to other cities and villages in Laos as resentment against government corruption and political and religious persecution deepens among the Laotian people.

Ms. Vanida S. Thephsouvanh, President of the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR or MLDH ) issued an urgent appeal and international communiqué from the Laotian Diaspora community abroad.

“…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,” Ms. Thephsouvanh and the LMHR stated from Paris, France regarding the mass arrests in Laos.

“Now, with the start of SEA Games a month away, the communist military regime in Laos has again brutally attacked and jailed peaceful Laotian activists seeking to organize demonstrations in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Sam Nuea, Savannakhet, Champassak and elsewhere in Laos,” said Philip Smith, the Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA).

“Unfortunately, now many more arrests and military attacks have occurred in recent days, led by the Lao military and secret police. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV), and the generals in Hanoi, have deployed new battalions and special military police units of the Vietnam Peoples Army (VPA) to assist the LPDR in crushing the Laotian peoples opposition movement and demonstrations directed at political reform and regime change in Laos,” continued Mr. Smith.

Smith explained: “Laos will host the SEA games in December in Vientiane and is apparently eager to seek to militarily crush opposition to the one party Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) regime.”

“In LPA controlled areas, free from civil unrest, previously pacified Lao Hmong villages, formerly under control of the LPA, are now under military martial law and lockdown in many key provinces in Laos since the start of the demonstrations on November 2-5, 2009,” said Philip Smith of the CPPA.

Non-governmental organizations, humanitarian organizations and charities are mobilizing in support of the peaceful protest organizers in Laos. A coalition of human rights organizations have criticized the LPDR regime’s violent and bloody actions against the peaceful anti-government movement which included many Lao and Hmong students.

A coalition of non-governmental human tights and non-profit organizations have issued statements condemning the recent crackdown and arrests in Laos including the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. (ULDL), Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR or MLDH), the Lao Students Movement for Democracy (LSMD), Lao Hmong Human Rights Council (LHHRC), Laos Institute for Democracy (LIFD), Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVA), Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), Hmong Advancement, Inc. (HAI), Hmong Advance, Inc. (HA) and other organizations.

“Now, today, we are again demanding the immediate release of all of the political and religious dissidents imprisoned by the LPDR regime in Laos by the start of the SEA Games,” stated Mr. Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos (ULDL).

Mr. Rathigna explained and said further: “Today, the Lao people, from north to south in Laos, oppose the rampant corruption and human rights violations of the LPDR military dictatorship against their own Laotian and Hmong people; they want an immediate withdrawal of all LPA army and police units from Vientiane, Luang Prabang and elsewhere in the Laotian cities and the release from prison of all the peaceful protestors as well as the Lao Students of the October 1999 Movement for Democracy,”

Main-force army units and troops from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) and Lao Peoples Army ( LPA ) have been rushed to key areas of Laos to boost internal security efforts to quell potential demonstrations against the Lao regime and to seek to arrest or exterminate Lao and Hmong political and religious dissident groups in hiding in key areas of Laos including Khammoune Province where wide-spread illegal logging is being conducted by Vietnamese military owned companies.

According to sources in Laos, thirteen (13) more people were arrested in Vientiane today, November 6. Many are being held in Laos’ notorious Sam Khe prison where they are being subjected to torture.

In Xieng Khouang Province, a three pronged military offensive has been launched by the LPA to seek to wipe out, or starve to death, remaining Lao and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissident groups. Six (6) Hmong women and children were reportedly wounded or killed by Lao artillery attacks today during attacks by LPA and VPA forces at the Phou Bia Mountain area.

“Ironically, now, with the right hand the LPDR government in Laos welcomes the world to the SEA Games in Vientiane,” said Mr. Vaughn Vang, Director of the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council, Inc. (LHHRC) in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Mr. Vaughn Vang explained further: “But with the other hand the Lao Peoples Army and LPDR regime are engaged in a massive campaign in Laos to arrest, starve, kill and persecute the Lao and Hmong people who only want peace and freedom. Now the Lao military has again launched new attacks against innocent civilians in the provinces of Xieng Khouang, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Khammoune and elsewhere resulting in many innocent Lao and Hmong civilians and religious believers, including Christians, to be injured or killed.”

"Presently, Laotian and Hmong groups in-hiding are continuing to report that the Lao Army is launching military attacks, ambushing and surround these groups in-hiding using heavy artillery, infantry, and small unit attacks. More than 112 Hmong women and children in-hiding in Phou Bia mountain area alone are known casualties of the recent attacks that have occurred over the last three weeks," said Mr. Vang from the offices of the LHHRC. ..

Many Lao and Hmong in the Diaspora community have relatives in Laos that are the victims of the current Lao military attacks against peaceful demonstrators as well as political and religious dissidents..

The LPDR regime continues to jail leaders of the peaceful 1999 Lao Students Movement for Democracy as well as three (3) Hmong American citizens, including Mr. Hakit Yang of St. Paul, Minnesota. Hundreds of Lao Hmong political refugees from Ban Huay Nam Khao that were forced from Thailand to Laos in recent months have been jailed, imprisoned, summarily executed or have simply disappeared according to sources in Laos and the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Sheng Xiong, wife of Mr. Hakit Yang, has repeatedly appealed for the release of her husband and two of his colleagues from St. Paul, Minnesota, arrested in Laos by Lao military and security forces. Mr. Yang, an American citizen, along with the two others, is currently being held in Sam Nuea Province in a secret LPDR prison, according to the Foreign Prisoners Support Service and humanitarian advocate Kay Danes.

Historically, the Stalinist military junta in Laos maintains a close alliance with the corrupt authoritarian regimes in Burma and North Korea.

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