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Laos: Appeal for Release of 3 Hmong-Americans

Laos: Appeal for Release of 3 Hmong-Americans

Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, April 21, 2011
Center for Public Policy Analysis
info@centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and a coalition of Laotian and Hmong non-governmental organizations have joined the Minnesota families of three Hmong-Americans in issuing an appeal for the release of their relatives being held in Laos for over three years by military and communist party officials. The appeal was issued from Washington, D.C., and the Twin Cities of Minnesota, to the Lao government and U.S. President Barack Obama to request that they work at a higher diplomatic level, with urgent priority, to release three Hmong-American citizens arrested and currently imprisoned in Laos.

The three jailed Americans, of ethnic Hmong descent from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, have been imprisoned in Laos for over three years-- according to eye-witness sources, human rights groups, prisoner support organizations, and humanitarian activists, including Australian author and humanitarian advocate Kay Danes. . http://www.presszoom.com/print_story_140676.htm

According to the Foreign Prisoners Support Service in Australia, CPPA, family members and other sources, the three Minnesota men were arrested in Laos by Lao military and security forces while they were visiting Laos in the summer of 2007 as tourists and potential investors.. The three Hmong-Americans remained imprisoned in Laos' Sam Neua Province by Lao military and ministry of interior police.. They are currently being held without charges being filed, or due process.

“We want answers now from the Lao government about the arrest and continued imprisonment of my husband, Hakit Yang, and the other two Hmong-Americans traveling with him from Minnesota,” said Sheng Xiong, a spokeswoman for the families of the three Hmong-Americans arrested in the summer of 2007 in Xieng Khouang Province. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1089564.html

“Our Lao Hmong families, and the community in St. Paul and Minneapolis, are appealing to the Lao government once again to release my husband Hakit Yang and his colleagues immediately, and unconditionally,” Mrs. Xiong further stated.

“We would like to ask the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the U.S. government to please seriously help to press the Lao military and government to cooperate in telling the truth about the arrest and imprisonment of our families in Laos so that they can be released and come home to their loved ones, including their wives and children,” Xiong said.

“We are grateful to Kay Danes and the Foreign Prisoners Support Service in Australia for helping to bring new and updated information and evidence about the arrest and continued jailing of my husband in Laos and we appreciate her book 'Standing Ground' regarding her experience and first-hand knowledge about the the plight of prisoners at Phonthong Prison in Vientiane were my husband was jailed by the Lao authorities,” Xiong concluded.

Lao People's Army (LPA) troops and secret police arrested the three Americans: Mr. Hakit Yang, 24; Mr. Conghineng Yang,, 34; and Trillion Yunhaison, 44. The three were U.S. citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota and the Twin Cities area of Minnesota where their immediate families remain. A fourth Hmong individual Mr. Pao Vang, of unknown nationality and age, was reportedly acting as tour guide for the group, and was also reportedly arrested and jailed with them according to sources inside Laos.

“The LPA and secret police later moved the three Americans, including Sheng Xiong's husband Hakit Yang, to Laos' notorious Phonthong Prison, in the capital of Vientiane, where the men were interrogated, beaten and tortured according to eyewitnesses as well as numerous and redundant Hmong, Laotian, Australian, and other sources,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director for the CPPA in Washington, D.C. http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

“In 2009, the three Hmong-American men were again moved a second time in army trucks and vehicles, and are now being held in a secret LPA military-operated prison camp in Sam Neua Province, Laos, “ Smith stated.

“Australian human rights activist and author Kay Danes as well as the Foreign Prisoners Support Service have also uncovered more details of the Lao government's continued imprisonment and mistreatment of the three American's from Minnesota.,” Smith continued.

“We are urging President Barack Obama to press the Lao military and government, at a higher diplomatic level, to release the three Americans from the Twin Cities of Minnesota,” Smith said.

“We are also appealing to President Obama, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to assist with the release of Lao and Hmong political prisoners and religious dissidents in Laos, including jailed Lao student pro-democracy leaders and the Hmong translator for Pastor Naw Karl Mua, of St. Paul, and two European journalists who were also previously arrested and imprisoned in Laos,” Smith concluded.

“We condemn, in the strongest terms, the continued imprisonment by the Lao military and communist officials in Laos of Mr. Hakit Yang, Mr. Conghineng Yang and Trillion Yunhaison, who are U.S. citizens still being held without charge in horrific conditions in Laos by the Lao Peoples Army and secret police,” said Christy Lee, the Executive Director of Hmong Advance, Inc. (HAI) in Washington, D.C.

“Laotian and Hmong-Americans are concerned that this is yet another brutal example of the Lao government's, and LPA military's, institutional violence and endemic racism directed against the Hmong people in Laos who continue to suffer mistreatment, gross human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, religious persecution, the confiscation of their land, and many other terrible abuses from the Lao military and corrupt communist party officials,” Ms. Lee stated from HAI offices in Washington..

On March 16, 2011, the CPPA and others issued and international appeal regarding the plight of the three Hmong-Americans from Minnesota as well as political prisoners and religious dissidents being jailed in Laos.
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110316007171/en/Laos-Hmong-Crisis-Rights-Groups-International-Appeal

The United Nations' Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva has repeated cited the government of Laos, and Lao People's Army soldiers and commanders, for egregious human rights violations and institutional racism, including the rape and killing of unarmed Lao Hmong civilians.

In 2003, the United Nations' CERD passed a resolution in Geneva condemning the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) for atrocities against the Hmong including the rape and murder of Hmong children by LPA forces. Thereafter, it again raised concerns about attacks against Hmong civilians and opposition groups in Laos. http://www.universalhumanrightsindex.org/documents/824/1223/document/en/pdf/text.pdf
http://www.universalhumanrightsindex.org/documents/824/960/document/en/pdf/text.pdf

“We want the one-party communist regime in Laos to abide by international law and release the three Lao Hmong-American citizens from St. Paul who have been jailed in Laos for over three years, ” said Boon Boualaphanh , of the Minneapolis -based United Lao for Human Rights and Democracy (ULHRD). “These America citizens and other prisoners , including prisoners of conscience and political prisoners, should also be released by the Lao military and communist party authorities including the Lao student leaders of the October 1999 Movement for Democracy in Vientiane.”
..
The Hmong-Americans currently being jailed in Laos, have no known political or family ties to opposition or dissident factions and had departed the United States for travel to Laos on July 10, 2007, from the Twin Cities of Minnesota as tourists and to potentially seek business and investment opportunities in Laos, prior to their arrest and imprisonment.

Australian Kay Danes, a former political prisoner in Laos, spoke in the U.S. Congress and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in April 2009, with Sheng Xiong about the current imprisonment and plight of the three Americans in Laos. Danes is the author of “Standing Ground” a book about her ordeal in Phonthong Prison in Vientiane, Laos, where the three Americans were also imprisoned and tortured before being moved to secret military prison in Sam Neua Province by Lao military and security forces.

Laos is governed by a one-party communist regime whose leadership has repeatedly been deemed as “Press Predators” by the Paris, France-based Journalists Without Borders ( JSF ). Amnesty International and other independent human rights organizations have also raise serous concerns http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGASA260022006


For nearly a decade, a Hmong translator with links to the Twin Cities, who assisted Minnesota Hmong-American Pastor Naw Karl Mua (Naw Karl Moua) and two European journalists, Thierry Falise and Vincent Reynaud, is still imprisoned in Laos on allegations regarding their efforts to document human rights violations. The group documented horrific attacks and atrocities committed by the LPA on Laotian and Hmong civilians, independent Animist and Christians communities, and dissident groups.

Over 8,000 Lao Hmong refugees were forced back to Laos in 2009, and were placed in charge of a LPA General, General Bouasieng Champaphanh, who has repeatedly involved with answering serious human rights and religious freedom violations, and atrocity, charges by the United Nations and independent human rights and religious freedom organizations. http://media-newswire.com/release_1108993.html

The non-profit and non-governmental organizations joining the three Hmong-American families in urging Laos to release the three Americans from Minnesota include the CPPA, HAI, Hmong Advancement, Inc., ULHRD, Lao Human Rights Council, Inc., Hmong Students Association, Lao Hmong Students For Democracy, United League for Democracy in Laos, Laos Institute for Democracy, Lao Veterans of America, Inc., and others.

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