Laos, Thailandâ€™s Samak Crisis: Rallies Seek To Stop Killings, AttacksÂ
Washington, D.C. (RushPRNews), March 12, 2008 – A coalition of Lao and Hmong organizations are slated to rally in key states across the United States on Thursday, March 13, 2008, from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. (local time). Protestors will call for a stop to the Lao governmentâ€™s military attacks, mass starvation campaign and ethnic cleansing operations directed against unarmed Laotian and Hmong civilians and dissident opposition groups in hiding or trapped in closed military zones in Laos.
The demonstrators will also denounce the recent visit of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to Laos that was preceded by the brutal forced repatriation of over a dozen Hmong refugees at the hands of Thai Third Army attack dogs who bloodied and mauled some of the Hmong refugees. http://www.rushprnews.com/press/archives/1231650
Demonstrators will join Human Rights Watchâ€™s recent call for the immediate halt to Prime Minister Samak and the Thai Governmentâ€™s apparent plan to forcibly repatriate some 8,000 Lao-Hmong refugees and asylum seekers at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun, Thailand, back to the communist regime in Laos that they fled. http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/03/05/thaila18211_txt.htm
â€œIt is our understanding that mass demonstrations will occur across the United States tomorrow in opposition to the Samak regimeâ€™s horrific forced repatriation of Lao-Hmong refugees in Thailand prior to his visit to Laos earlier this month as well as the Lao regimeâ€™s increased brutal military attacks against unarmed Laotian and Hmong civilians and opposition groups who are surrounded in Laos where they are being starved to death and subjected to atrocities,â€ stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Washington, DC-based Center for Public Policy Analysis â€œSamakâ€™s bizarre role in brutalizing Hmong refugees and forcing them back prior to his official state visit to Laos has not gone unnoticed in Washington, DC and the U.S. Congress and this deplorable action has drawn the attention of Human Rights Watch and the UNHCR; Samakâ€™s action in cooperation with elements of the Thai Third Army is especially unfortunate given the fact that U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf and a dozen Members of Congress had earlier written a letter to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej appealing to His Majesty the King for his kind and compassionate assistance in granting these Hmong refugees sanctuary in Thailand until they can be resettled in third countries,â€ Smith said.
â€œMany protestors and family members at the rallies will also be calling on the Lao government to release Mr. Hakit Yang and his two Hmong-American colleagues from St. Paul, Minnesota that they arrested last year,â€ Smith continued. â€œThe Lao regimeâ€™s arrest and jailing of these men in Laos has not been forgotten, especially by the Hmong community in St. Paul, Minnesota and the family members of the victims,â€ Smith concluded.
Hakit Yang 29, Congshineng Yang 31, and Trillion Yunhaison 41, of St. Paul, Minnesota were arrested by Lao government officials in 2007 and are currently being held in Laos without charge.
â€œThe US Government and US Embassy have a responsibility to inform US Citizens that there are no real protections in place to safeguard their civil and legal rights in Laos. The US Government has failed to properly hold the Laos Government accountable for the disappearance of these three Hmong-Americans, who are US citizens and investors from St. Paul,â€ stated Sheng Xiong, wife of Hakit Yang and spokesperson for the families of the three missing Hmong-Americans arrested and jailed in Laos.
Schuyler Merritt, Research Director for the Center for Public Policy Analysis stated: â€œPrime Minister Samakâ€™s use of military police dogs to force Hmong refugees in Thailand back to Laos, separating families and putting innocent civilians in the hospital with critical injuries, demonstrates the violent, non-voluntary nature of these repatriations; Prime Ministger Samak has violated international laws protecting refugees and children, and is continuing a habit of endangering and killing civilians which has been evidenced since his involvement in the 1970s student demonstrations in Thailand.
The rallies across the United States will also call upon the Bush Administration to follow up and take concrete action regarding a recent letter sent by five U.S. Senators to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressing concern about the human rights situation in Laos and the plight of Hmong refugees in Thailand. http://www.rushprnews.com/press/archives/1231634
â€œWe want the Bush Administration and the international community to follow up on what the U.S. Congress has already clearly stated regarding its concerns about the human rights violations by the regime in Laos; and especially in implementing the text of H. Res. 402 which passed the U.S. Congress in 2004 regarding the crisis in Laos and the ongoing ethnic cleansing and attacks on innocent Laotian and Hmong people, â€ stated Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President and Founder of the Lao Veterans of America.
Rallies of significant numbers of Lao and Hmong-Americans are slated to be held at the state capitol buildings and U.S. Congressional offices in Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states on Thursday. They are slated to urge the government of Laos, the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) and the Thai Government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to end the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Laos and Thailand that has cost the lives of thousands of innocent Laotian and Hmong civilians and resulted in the continued suffering of refugees and asylum seekers as documented by Amnesty International, MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res (MSF — Doctors Without Borders ) and other independent organizations. http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/2007/06-29-2007.cfm
â€˜Currently, an estimated 15,000 unarmed Hmong civilians, including many who fought as allies of the United States military and clandestine forces during the Vietnam war, are hiding in the jungles and mountains of Laos in certain key areas and are being hunted by LPDR military forces,â€™ stated Vaughn Vang, Director of the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. â€œLao troops are deploying to surround innocent Hmong in hiding and they are being subjected to mass starvation, repeated army ground troop and artillery attacks as well as the poisoning of their water supplies, food supply and surrounding vegetation,â€ Mr. Vang continued.
Demonstrators will seek to highlight recent reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, Doctors Without Borders, Journalists Without Borders and others about the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Thailand and Laos, including Amnesty Internationalâ€™s recent report about the mass starvation of Hmong in jungles of Laos. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA26/003/2007
According to Vaugh Vang, Director of the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc.: â€œThe 15,000 Hmong civilians, including many women and children, that are now under constant attack in Laos by the Lao military are appealing to the United States, United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and the world community to help intervene and save their lives; Without international intervention, the Lao-Hmong in hiding in the jungles and mountains of Laos, as well as the 8,000 Hmong refugees at Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun, Thailand, are endangered of being killed by the Lao military and security forces within the next several weeks and months; we are urging and appealing to the international community on behalf of these voiceless, Lao and Hmong victims, to continue to seek to intervene, on humanitarian grounds, on behalf of basic human rights and human dignity for these suffering people.â€
According to the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc., thousands of Laotians and Hmong have perished in recent years in Laos at the hand and tens of thousands have been killed since the Communist LPDR government took over Laos in 1975.
Recent attacks and the arrest of Laotian and Hmong Christians and religious believers will be discussed including recent reports by Compass Direct and others about the arrest Lao and Hmong Christians by Lao government and military officials–including a group of 58 Hmong Christians .
â€œLao military forces, with the help of troops from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, are now attacking and killing thousands of innocent and peace loving civilians in Laos, including the Hmong people,â€ stated Bouthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. â€œLao and Hmong protestors believe that the Communist regime in Laos, backed by Vietnamese military forces, is engaged in illegal war crimes against humanity in attacking, jailing and killing innocent Lao and Hmong people,â€ said Mr. Rathigna. â€œWe want the Lao government me to cease these military attacks and the starvation of innocent civilians and opposition groups members; and we want the Lao government to immediately release the peaceful, pro-democracy Lao student leaders from the Lao Students Movement for Democracy of 1999,â€ Mr. Rathigna concluded.
On February 8, 2008, Radio Free Asian ( RFA ) reported that the Lao Government has announced a special order to kill Hmong groups in hiding with a reward of six million kip ( U.S. $600 ) per head for killing a Hmong fighter.
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