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Laos Groups Issue Appeal Before Communist Party Congress

Laos Groups Issue Appeal Before Communist Party Congress

The Center for Public Policy Analysis and a coalition of Lao and Hmong non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have issued an international appeal urging Laos to release political and religious dissidents, and jailed Americans, prior to the beginning of the ninth Lao Communist party congress in the coming days. The appeal also requests that the Lao government halt illegal logging by Vietnamese military companies in Laos and release nearly 8,000 Lao Hmong political refugees and asylum seekers forcibly repatriated from Thailand to Laos in December of 2009.

“We are concerned about ongoing human rights violations in Laos and the continued imprisonment of Lao political and religious dissidents as well as Hmong refugees,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C. http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

“The Lao communist party is losing more credibility with the Laotian people, in part, because it continues to take a closed-door, monopolistic approach to governing and it has repeatedly failed to provide international access to, or release, prisoners of conscience as well as Lao Hmong refugees;.” Smith said.

The communist party Congress in Laos is slated to begin on Thursday, March 17, and is reportedly closed to independent journalists and the news media as well as foreign diplomats.

“There needs to be transparency by the Lao communist government and a voice for the voiceless, suffering people of Laos,” said Khampoua Naovarangsy ( Khamphoua Naovarangsy ) an internet blogger and press freedom advocate for the Laos Institute for Democracy (LIFD).

“We are very concerned about the arrest and beating again of Christian Pastor Wanna in Laos as well as other independent Lao and Hmong Christians, Buddhist and Animist religious believers who seek to worship independently from the Lao Communist Party's monitoring and control,” said Boon Boulaphanh, of the Laotian Community of Minnesota (LCM).

“We are appealing to the Lao government to immediately release the peaceful Lao student leaders, Pastor Wanna, and others who seek political reform and religious freedom in Laos,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. (ULDL).

“The Lao and Hmong-American community is appealing to Laos to immediately release the Laotian student protesters and thousands of Lao Hmong refugees recently forced back to Laos,” said Christy Lee, of Hmong Advance, Inc. and Hmong Advancement, Inc. “We want the one-party communist regime in Laos to stop its terrible human rights and religious freedom violations against the Lao Hmong refugees and its own freedom-loving Laotian people; We are especially concerned that Lao and Hmong Christians, and independent Animist believers, are now being arrested, tortured and killed in Laos.”

Excerpts from the seven point international appeal state:

“We appeal to the Lao government and Communist Party authorities to release all political and religious dissidents, as well as some 8,000 Lao Hmong refugees and asylum seekers, as a gesture of goodwill prior to the start of the Nineth Communist Party Congress of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party,”

“Our eight point international appeal requests that the Lao government and Communist Party, Lao People's Revolutionary Party: First, release the imprisoned members of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy leaders of the October 26, 1999, peaceful anti-government protests in Vientiane;

Second, provide unfettered international access, and third country resettlement, to some 8,000 Lao Hmong refugees and asylum seekers forcibly repatriated from Thailand to Laos in December of 2009;

Third, release the Lao Hmong translator, and guide, arrested in 2003 and still jailed for assisting two European journalists, Thierry Falise and Vincent Reynaud, and American pastor, Naw Karl Mua, seeking to provide press coverage about the plight of those Laotian and Hmong in Laos suffering political and religious freedom violations;

Fourth, cease the religious freedom violations, persecution and harassment of independent Laotian and Hmong Christian, Animist and Buddhist believers, including Laotian Christian Pastor Wanna, who has been repeatedly arrested and beaten along with other Lao Christian believers;

Fifth, abide by the resolutions of the European Parliament and U.S. Congress urging the Lao government to cease human rights violations and abide by international law;

Sixth, provide international access to, and release, the three American citizens, from St. Paul, Minnesota, arrested in August 2007, and still imprisoned in Laos, including Hakit Yang, Cong Shi Neng Yang, and Trillion Yunhaison;

Seventh, provide international access to, and release, the group of Laotian political refugees forcibly repatriated from Thailand to Laos who were alleged to have been involved in the July 4, 200, Ban Vang Tao cross-border raid by some 60 anti-Lao government insurgents;

Eight, and finally, cease the ongoing illegal logging in Laos by Vietnamese military owned companies' of the Vietnam Peoples Army that serious threatens the environment and national sovereignty of Laos as well as the human rights of many of the forest-dwelling minority peoples, including the Lao Hmong, Khmu, Mien, Yao and other minority Laotians.

The eight-point international appeal was issued by the CPPA, LIFD, ULDL, LCM, the Lao Veterans of America, Inc., Hmong Advance, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc., and others.

On January 19, 2010, the CPPA and a coalition of Lao and Hmong organizations issued a 12 point communique also urging Laos to release jailed American citizens, dissidents and Hmong refugees. *http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20100719006805/en/Laos-Communiqué-Urges-Release-Jailed-Americans-Dissidents*

ENDS

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