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Laos Communique Urges Release of Jailed Americans, Dissidents, Hmong Refugees.

BANGKOK & WASHINGTON -- The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), the United League for Democracy in Laos (ULDL) and a coalition of Lao and Hmong non-governmental organizations have released a twelve-point joint communique today in Bangkok, Thailand. The joint statement outlines opposition to the visit of Lao Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith to the United States as well as recent military actions by the Lao government. The communique was also released on Friday in Washington, D.C. and New York.

Thongloun Sisoulith also serves as deputy prime minister for the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR), a one-party, authoritarian regime closely allied with the military junta in Burma and Stalinist North Korea. The senior-level Lao Communist party official recently met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. An Open Skies Agreement was concluded to promote tourism.

"We are calling on the Lao military and Thongloun Sisoulith to abide by international law and stop persecuting and killing the peace-loving Lao and Hmong people," said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the ULDL. The ULDL has participated in recent human rights protests at the LPDR Embassy in Washington, D.C.

"Ironically, and sadly, American citizens and others continue to be illegally detained, tortured and imprisoned in Laos, including Hakit Yang and two other Hmong-Americans from St. Paul, Minnesota," stated Philip Smith, Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.

Smith expressed further concerns about: "Othe Lao military regime's close relationship with Burma, North Korea and corrupt military generals in Vietnam."

"The U.S. Congress and European Parliament have repeatedly issued resolutions and legislation urging Laos to abide by international law and cease its military attacks, and human rights violations, against Laotian and Hmong civilians, dissidents and refugees," Smith said.

"We are urging the Lao military government to immediately release the three Americans it continues to imprison as well as the peaceful Lao student leaders and the 8,000 Lao Hmong refugees recently forced from Thailand to Laos from 2007-2009," Smith concluded.

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) recently visited Laos where he was denied free and unfettered access to some of the 8,000 Lao Hmong refugees recently forced back to Laos.

The following are excerpts from the 12 Point Joint Communique on Laos which urges Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and the LPDR regime to:

"Oabide by international law, and to release, unconditionally, all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including the Lao student leaders of the October 26, 1999, Lao Students Movement for Democracy and those arrested in the Fall of 2009...," the Joint Communique by the CPPA and Laotian and Hmong organizations stated.

"O immediately, and unconditionally, release the three American citizens from St. Paul, Minnesota, including Mr. Hakit Yang, a Hmong-American citizen arrested and imprisoned in Laos for nearly 3 years.

"O immediately provide unfettered international access by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the thousands of Lao Hmong refugees who were forced from Thailand to Laos by the Thai and Lao military from 2007-2009, including some 158 screened-in political refugees from Nong Khai refugee camp.

"Ocancel and renounce the illegally-concluded, so-called 'Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation' between Laos and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which violates the neutrality and territorial integrity of Laos and provides the ongoing basis for the illicit exploitation of Laos and its people and natural resources by Vietnamese military-owned companies engaged in illegal logging and other activities.

"O halt all military attacks against Lao and Hmong civilians and political and religious dissident groups in hiding in the jungles and mountains of LaosO

"O cease its military and cooperation with the military junta in Burma and the Burmese military persecution of dissident Buddhist monks and religious believers.

"Ocease its military cooperation with the Stalinist regime in North Korea and its imprisonment and detention of North Korean refugees and dissidents fleeing the Pyongyang regime."

The communique was issued by the CPPA, ULDL, Lao Hmong Human Rights Council, Lao Community of Minnesota, Hmong Advance, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc., Laos Institute for Democracy and others.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 19, 2010
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