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Persecution, Political Violence, Surges in Laos

Persecution, Political Violence, Surges in Laos

Washington, D.C., March 1, 2013

The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), the Lao Human Rights Council (LHRC), and a coalition of non-governmental organizations are raising concerns about a surge in political violence and ethnic and religious persecution in Laos following the arrest of an award-winning Laotian civic leader and the disappearance of three Lao-Americans from Minnesota.

“There is clearly a major surge in political violence and ethnic and religious persecution in Laos following the arrest of Lao civic activist Sombath Somphone and the disappearance of three Lao-American men from Minnesota’s Twin Cities who traveled recently to Laos.” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.

"The human rights case of Mr. Sombath Somphone, who disappeared at the hands of Laotian security forces in December was discussed at a plenary session of the European Parliament on February 7th ,” Smith stated. “Regrettably, the Lao regime has still not released Sombath as requested in a resolution passed that day by the European nations.”

Sombath Somphone is a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Souli Kongmalavong, Bounthie Insixiengmai and Bounma Phannhotha, of Minnesota, disappeared in Laos in January, and are feared dead, under suspicious circumstances involving corrupt Lao officials

“Instead of releasing Mr. Sombath, and others unjustly imprisoned in Laos, it is clear that Lao security forces, including the military and secret police, are once again violently cracking down on key elements of society in Laos to seek to preserve their monopoly on political power, and economic control,” Smith said.

“The Lao government is engaged in a new and intensified round of military attacks and brutal security force operations, including those last week that killed four innocent Hmong civilians,” Smith concluded.

“Sadly, on February 22, Lao-Hmong villagers were arbitrarily attacked by Lao soldiers who killed four Hmong people and wounded one other,” said Vaughn Vang, President of the Wisconsin and Minnesota-based LHRC.

“Lao Peoples Army (LPA) soldiers, armed with AK-47 machine guns, fired upon a group of ten Hmong men southwest of the Phou Bia mountain-area,” Vang stated. “Those killed by the Lao military include: Mr. Hue Xiong, 32 years old; Mr. Cha Xiong, 30; Mr. Ze Xiong, 20; and, Mr. Bee Vang, 30.”

Vang continued: “These unarmed Hmong people left their village to seek food when they were attacked and killed by Lao troops. Mr. Year Chang, was also shot and wounded, but survived, along with five others. Three of the deceased, murdered by the LPA soldiers, were ordinary teachers for a nearby school.”

Vang concluded: “The families of the dead are requesting that they be permitted to retrieve the bodies of their family members in order to perform traditional Hmong Animist and Christian religious ceremonies, and burial rituals, to rest the souls of those who were killed in the recent government attack. Unfortunately, however, the Lao authorities have refused their requests.”


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