Tuesday 7 June 2005
Two years ago, day for day in June 2003, two European journalists, Thierry FALISE from Belgium and Vincent REYNAUD from France, their Lao-American interpreter Naw-Karl MUA, as well as their three Lao-Hmong guides --Mr. Tho MOUA, Mr. Pa Fue KHANG and Mr. Va Cha YANG-were arrested by the authorities of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) for visiting Lao-Hmong groups hunted down by the governmental troups in the Xaysomboun Special Zone, for press coverage purposes.
Following international pressure, both European journalists and their Lao-American journalists were expelled from the LPDR in July 9, 2003, after having been sentenced to prison and fines by a 'people's tribunal' in the course of a mockery of a trial. However, 730 days after their arrest, the three Lao-Hmong guides are still kept in the LPDR prisons.
On this second anniversary of their unjustified detention, the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR) expresses its greatest concern as to the fate of these three guides who did nothing but contribute to the exercise for the freedom of the press, and who are kept in prison only because they are Lao.
The LMHR calls on the international media not to forget their distress, and asks the LPDR authorities to give guarantees of their physical and moral well-being, to grant their families a right to visit, and to give them appropriate medical care, in accordance with the International Conventions signed by the LPDR.
Furthermore, the LMHR denounces the arrest made by the Lao authorities on Saturday June 4, 2005, of four American nationals --Ed and Georgie SZENDREY and two Hmong-Americans, Sia Cher VANG and Nhia Vang YANG-who apparently went to Laos to examine the humanitarian situation of the Lao-Hmong who have been hunted down by the governmental authorities for 30 years in the Xaysomboun and Bolikhamsay regions. If three of them were expelled from the country on Monday after having been interrogated for 48h, Sia Cher VANG is still in prison.
The Lao Movement for Human Rights demands his immediate release, as well as the release of every person imprisoned in the LPDR for their opinions or beliefs.
The LMHR calls on to the international community, in particular the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and its 25 Member States, to adopt urgent and appropriate measures towards the LPDR, including economic and commercial ones, so as to make the Lao leaders put an end to ethnic and religious repression campaigns in the country, and conform themselves without further delay to the universal values of democracy and human rights.