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Laos, Hmong Washington DC Events, Protest Rally, Urge End to Human Rights Violations

ICC Note:

A coalition of Lao, Hmong and Southeast Asia human rights organizations have been raising their voices for the rights of the Lao and Hmong people persecuted by their country. A major demonstration was held in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 6, along with follow-up meetings through the 11th.

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12/11/08 Laos (Media-Newswire) The Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) in Washington, D.C. was rocked by a major demonstration on Saturday, December 6, by a coalition of Lao, Hmong and Southeast Asian human rights, student, religious, humanitarian and non-governmental organizations ( NGOs ).
Following the Laos Embassy demonstration, a special session of the Laos National Policy Conference was hosted in Washington, D.C. as well as follow-on meetings, from December 6-11, 2008, with community leaders, Members of Congress and U.S. policymakers about the human rights crisis in Laos and Thailand facing Laotian and Hmong refugees, political and religious dissidents, and asylum seekers. The national events in Washington, D.C. were concluded today.
Laos Embassy demonstrators urged the immediate release of all imprisoned Lao student leaders, Hmong refugees recently forcibly repatriated from Thailand and jailed in reeducation camps in Laos as well as political and religious dissidents.

The imprisonment, disappearance and summary execution of hundreds of Lao Hmong refugees recently forcibly repatriated from Ban Huay Nam Khao refugee camp in Petchabun Province, Thailand, back to the LPDR regime in Laos was also heralded in the protests.

The Laos Embassy demonstrators decried the recent arrests, persecution and killings of Lao Buddhist and Lao-Hmong Animist and Christian religious believers by the Lao Army and security services.

Publicizing human rights violations is the enemy of abuses, according to Aryeh Neier of Americas Watch. “Silence is acquiescence,” he noted. “The worst abuses take place when no one is paying attention.”

“Widespread human rights violations, systemic corruption by the LPDR regime, increased religious persecution and ethnic cleansing against Laotian and Hmong dissidents and civilian groups remain serious problems in Laos,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) who was invited as one of the keynote speakers at the Laos Embassy demonstration and Laos National Policy Conference event.

House Res. 1273, legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress which addresses the current human rights crisis in Laos and Thailand, and urges Laos to cease its military attacks on Hmong civilians was discussed. U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy ( D-RI ), U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf ( R-VA ), U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin ( D-WI ) and U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher ( R-CA ) introduced the bill earlier this year, which also appeals to the Royal Thai government to stop sending Hmong and Laotian refugees back to the communist regime in Laos that they have fled.
“The 7,000 Lao Hmong political refugees now detained in Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province and the 159 Hmong refugees who are being held in Nong Khai Detention Center, in Thailand and including those hiding in the jungle in Laos are our family members– mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children of the Lao and Hmong Diaspora and community in the United States,” said Vaughn Vang in a statement by the Lao Hmong Human Rights Council.

In recent months, new LPDR military and security forces units, boosted by fresh battalions of PAVN troops from Vietnam, have deployed in Luang Prabang, Xieng Khouang, Vientiane Province and elsewhere in Laos to help eradicate and kill Hmong and Laotian civilians and dissident groups, including religious communities of Animists and Christians, suspected of living independently from the LPDR government or opposing the regime in Vientiane.

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