Vietnamese Civil Groups Raise Freedom of Religion, Expression at ASEAN Forum

Ahead of the next APF in 2016, the forum’s organizing committee has not decided whether to hold the meeting in Laos, which will assume chairmanship of the 10-member ASEAN coalition next year, because civil society groups from the region are concerned about the safety of human rights defenders in the country.

Radio Free Asia: 24 April 2015

ACSC:APF-2015

Thida Khus, executive director of Cambodian NGO Silaka, addresses the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum in Malaysia, April 22, 2015. Photo courtesy of Silaka

Freedom of religion and expression topped the areas of discussion for Vietnamese civil groups attending forums on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia Friday, during which they engaged with their counterparts and government officials from the region.

The ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) is being held on April 21-24 to provide civil society groups with a platform to address the organization’s leaders through workshops on various rights issues alongside the ASEAN Summit of Heads of State.

One young Vietnamese presenter, Nguyen Anh Tuan, told RFA that she attended the seminar because she wanted to convey how poor Vietnam’s rights record is compared to other nations in the region and discuss ways to improve it.

“Based on what I know, the human right abuses in Vietnam exceed other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand,” she said.

“During this session, I will try to prove that the human right abuses in Vietnam are systematic and not limited to some areas. They are everywhere and include freedom of religion, expression, information and association.”

At the People’s Forum on freedom of religion, Vietnamese presenters displayed photos of religious leaders, including Mennonite pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and Catholic priest Ngo The Binh of Tam Toa church, who have been harassed and beaten. Continue reading

Activists, politicians call for protection of human rights at ASEAN forum

Asian Correspondent: 24 April 2015

By 

Azmin Ali

Malaysian politician Azmin Ali. Pic: AP.

Discussions about human rights and civil society’s role in the ASEAN community took center stage at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/People’s Forum in Kuala Lumpur this week. More than 1,000 people gathered at the conference, which began Tuesday and ends today.

Former Malaysian Foreign Minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar gave the keynote address on the first day of the conference. He argued for a review of the ASEAN’s stance on non-interference, saying there are limits to its usefulness in international diplomacy, “especially when the serious impacts of a problem goes beyond national boundaries, or when it involves serious international crimes.”

Malaysian politician Azmin Ali also criticized the non-interference policy in a speech to the forum: “[O]n this altar of neutrality, we watch with folded arms, the slaughter of innocent women and children,” he said, referring to incidents in Burma (Myanmar) and Laos among others. “On this platform of non-interference, we turn blind eye to the massacre of ethnic minorities or abandon them as state-less people.” Continue reading

Lao Civil Society Pressured to Drop Rights Issues From ASEAN Forum

Radio Free Asia: 22 April 2015

ACSC:APF-2015

Thida Khus, executive director of Cambodian NGO Silaka, addresses the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum in Malaysia, April 22, 2015. Photo courtesy of Silaka

Civil society organizations in Laos are under pressure to omit key concerns from a list of regional human rights issues to be raised on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia this week and “fear for their safety” if they attempt to do so, a CSO official said Wednesday.

The groups dare not raise the concerns during the April 21-24 ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF)—intended to provide civil society with a platform to address ASEAN leaders—because they fear retribution for criticizing government policy, the CSO official told RFA’s Lao Service.

“[The CSOs] will talk mostly about gender roles only, but not other issues such as land rights, the impact of hydropower dams … and enforced disappearance, because they are afraid for their safety,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said the majority of authentic CSOs in Laos “do not want to attend the forum,” especially those which focus on human rights issues, but that the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Interior had persuaded other “irrelevant” organizations to go in their place. Continue reading

ອົງການທາງສັງຄົມໃນລາວຖືກ ຄວບຄຸມ

ວິທະຍຸເອເຊຍເສຣີ: 21 ເມສາ 2015

ອົງການ ຈັດຕັ້ງ ທາງ ສັງຄົມ ຂອງ ລາວ ຍັງ ຖືກ ຄວບຄຸມ ບໍ່ໃຫ້ ເວົ້າ ເຣື້ອງ ສິດທິມະນຸດ ໃນ ກອງ ປະຊຸມ ພາກ ປະຊາຊົນ ຢູ່ ປະເທດ ມາເລເຊັຽ.

ກອງ ປະຊຸມ ພາກ ປະຊາຊົນ ອາຊຽນ ຫລື APF ດຳເນີນ ການ ແຕ່ ວັນທີ 22-24 ເມສາ ທີ່ມີ ຫົວຂໍ້ ຫລັກ ເພື່ອ ສົ່ງເສີມ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ແລະ ເວທີ ການ ສະແດງ ຄຳຄິດເຫັນ ຂອງ ປະຊາຊົນ. ອົງການ ຈັດຕັ້ງ ທາງ ສັງຄົມ ຂອງ ລາວ ບໍ່ກ້າ ທີ່ຈະ ນຳເອົາ ບັນຫາ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ທີ່ ເກີດຂຶ້ນ ຢູ່ ໃນລາວ ຂຶ້ນໄປ ນຳ ສະເໜີ ຢູ່ ກອງ ປະຊຸມ ເພາະວ່າ ຢ້ານ ບໍ່ມີ ຄວາມ ປອດໄພ ສຳລັບ ຕົນເອງ ຫລັງຈາກ ທີ່ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ຖືກ ລັກພາຕົວ ໄປ ໃນ ວັນທີ 15 ທັນວາ 2012. ດັ່ງ ເຈົ້າໜ້າທີ່ ອົງການ ຈັດຕັ້ງ ທາງ ສັງຄົມ ຂອງ ລາວ ທ່ານ ນຶ່ງ ຜູ້ ທີ່ບໍ່ ປະສົງ ອອກຊື່ ແລະ ອອກສຽງ ໄດ້ ກ່າວຕໍ່ ນັກຂ່າວ ເອເຊັຽ ເສຣີ ວ່າ:

“ສ່ວນຫລາຍ ຈະເວົ້າ ເຣື້ອງ ບົດບາດ ຍິງຊາຍ ເທົ່ານັ້ນ. ແຕ່ ເຣື້ອງອື່ນ ເປັນ ຕົ້ນວ່າ ການ ຣະເມີດ ສິດທິ ທາງ ດ້ານ ທີ່ດິນ ແລະ ຜົນ ກະທົບ ຈາກ ການ ສ້າງ ເຂື່ອນ, ເຣື້ອງ ທີ່ດິນ ແລະ ການ ບີບບັງຄັບ ໃຫ້ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ເພາະ ເຂົາເຈົ້າ ຢ້ານວ່າ ຕົນເອງ ຊິບໍ່ ປອດໄພ”.

ເຈົ້າໜ້າທີ່ ທ່ານ ນີ້ ກ່າວ ອີກວ່າ ສ່ວນຫລາຍ ແລ້ວ ອົງການ ຈັດຕັ້ງ ທາງ ສັງຄົມ ລາວ ບໍ່ມີໃຜ ຢາກໄປ ຮ່ວມ ກອງ ປະຊຸມ ດັ່ງກ່າວ ແຕ່ວ່າ ກະຊວງ ການ ຕ່າງ ປະເທດ ແລະ ກະຊວງ ພາຍໃນ ຂອງ ລາວ ຣະດົມ ໃຫ້ໄປ. ສະມາຄົມ ຫຼັກໆ ທີ່ ເຮັດວຽກ ເຣື້ອງ ສິດທິ ປະຊາຊົນ ແທ້ໆ ເຂົາເຈົ້າ ກໍບໍ່ໄປ ເພາະ ສະນັ້ນ ກໍເລີຍ ຣະດົມ ສະມາຄົມ ອື່ນໆ ໄປ ແທນ. Continue reading

Civil Society speaks on Sombath

ACSC-APF2.2.3 States and non-state actors continue to commit violations with impunity, including police brutality, torture and enforced disappearances, against civil society activists. For example, the lack of immediate and transparent investigation into the case of Sombath Somphone[3] by ASEAN governments, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), or any other human rights mechanisms in the region. Human rights defenders continue to be persecuted under oppressive laws, including laws against activities as “injuring the national unity”, “propaganda against the State“, “abusing democratic freedoms” and sedition laws, which deny the people safe and constructive political space.

[3] Sombath Somphone, an internationally acclaimed community development worker and prominent member of Lao civil society, went missing on 15 December 2012, when police stopped his vehicle at a checkpoint in the capital. He was then transferred to another vehicle, according to police surveillance video, and has not been heard from since. Reports say that the Lao government continues to deny responsibility for his disappearance.

From Reclaiming the ASEAN Community for the People, the CSO Statement for the 2015 ACSC/APF.

For Para. 2.2.3, on page 2 the sentence containing the individual name of Sombath Somphone and the related footnote must be completely deleted because in any statement we just point out the fact and suggest recommendation and for avoiding unwilling or detrimental consequences, we never put in the name of individual nor we name of specific country. Furthermore, in LAO PDR few people know Sombath Somphone. He is known as a simple Lao citizen and as a development worker, but not prominent as pretended in the footnote. He has established a none registered Association. He does not elected as leader of Lao CSOs. The facts are there.

…This is the determinate voice of Lao people concerning ASEAN CSOs STATEMENT. Once again the People of LAO PDR hope that the sentence of multi-Party and pluralistic system and the other sentence with the individual name of Sombath Somphone, the word LGBTIQ and also all the footnotes shall be deleted or erased from the final Statement prior submission to the high level ASEAN LEADERS during the interface event.

From a resolution allegedly resulting from a meeting of Lao CSOs held on 10-11 March, 2015.

ທາງການລາວບໍ່ຢາກເວົ້າຊື່ ທ.ສົມບັດ

ວິທະຍຸເອເຊຍເສຣີ: 16 ເມສາ 2015

Ng Shui Meng at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2023. RFA

ຍານາງ ອຶງ ຊຸຍເມັງ ພັລຍາ ຂອງ ທ່ານສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ. RFA

ອົງການ ຈັດຕັ້ງ ທາງ ສັງຄົມ ຂອງ ລາວ ເສັຽ ຄວາມ ຮູ້ສຶກ ກັບ ຄວາມ ບໍ່ຈິງໃຈ ຂອງ ຣັຖບານ ທີ່ ພຍາຍາມ ຈະເອົາ ເຣື້ອງ ການ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ຂອງ ຜູ້ນຳ ຂອງ ອົງການ ຈັດຕັ້ງ ທາງ ສັງຄົມ ຂອງ ລາວ ອອກ ຈາກ ປະເດັນ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ຢູ່ ໃນ ຂົງເຂດ ນີ້, ຊຶ່ງ ຈະມີການ ປຶກສາ ຫາລື ກັນ ຢູ່ ໃນ ກອງ ປະຊຸມ ສຸດຍອດ ຜູ້ນຳ ອາຊຽນ ຢູ່ ປະເທດ ມາເລເຊັຽ ໃນ ເດືອນ ໜ້ານີ້ (ເມສາ).

ເຈົ້າໜ້າທີ່ ໄດ້ ກ່າວວ່າ ມີ ພະນັກງານ ຣັຖກອນ ບຳນານ ທ່ານນຶ່ງ ເຮັດໜ້າທີ່ ເປັນ ຕົວແທນ ຂອງ ຣັຖບານ ຢູ່ ນະຄອນ ຫລວງ ວຽງຈັນ ແລະ ວິ້ງເຕັ້ນ ສະເໜີ ຄນະ ກັມມະການ ຈັດ ກອງປະຊຸມ ພາກ ປະຊາຊົນ ອາຊຽນ ໃຫ້ ລົບ ຊື່ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ຊຶ່ງ ເປັນ ນັກ ພັທນາ ອາວຸໂສ ລາວ ທີ່ ຖືກ ລັກ ພາຕົວ ໄປ ເປັນ ເວລາ ກວ່າ 2 ປີ ອອກຈາກ ປະເດັນ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ແລະ ບັນຫາ ທາງດ້ານ ການ ປົກຄອງ ຢູ່ ໃນ ອາຊຽນ.

ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ຖືກ ລັກພາຕົວ ໃນ ວັນທີ 15 ທັນວາ 2012 ເມື່ອ ເຈົ້າໜ້າທິ່ ຕຳຣວດ ຢຸດ ຣົດ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ຢູ່ ຕໍ່ໜ້າ ປ້ອມ ຕຳຣວດ ຢູ່ ນະຄອນ ຫລວງ ວຽງຈັນ. ແລ້ວ ຕໍ່ມາ ທ່ານ ກໍຖືກ ພາຕົວ ຂຶ້ນ ຣົດ ອີກ ຄັນນຶ່ງ ໄປ. ອີງຕາມ ຫລັກຖານ ຈາກ ພາບ ວີດີໂອ ຂອງ ເຈົ້າໜ້າທີ່ ຕໍາຣວດ, ແລະ ກໍບໍ່ໄດ້ ເຫັນ ທ່ານ ອີກ ນັບແຕ່ ນັ້ນ ເປັນ ຕົ້ນມາ.

ກຸ່ມ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ສົງໄສ ວ່າ ເຈົ້າໜ້າທີ່ ທາງການ ລາວ ຈຳນວນນ ນຶ່ງ ມີສ່ວນ ໃນ ການ ລັກພາຕົວ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ຜູ້ທີ່ໄດ້ ຮັບ ຣາງວັນ ແມັກໄຊໄຊ ອາຫວອດ ໃນດ້ານ ການ ພັທນາ ຊຸມຊົນ ຢູ່ ໃນ ເອເຊັຽ ຊຶ່ງ ທຽບເທົ່າ ກັບ ຣາງວັນ ໂນເບວ ໃນຖານະ ທີ່ ທ່ານ ໄດ້ ເຮັດວຽກ ພັທນາ ການ ສຶກສາ. Continue reading

Dear Sombath…from Somchit

Dear Uncle Sombath,

House-Warming-01Today we made merits for you as well to blessed us all for the fresh Lao new year. Wherever you are i wish you received our pray and the food we offer in spirits. We did the ceremony at the wooden house that you bought just couple months before someone disappeared you. I remember very well this house and the rice hut, you said you were very very proud you found it, they are old that the owner wanted to tear it down and you want to preserve it. I never thought before that I will have to work on this house for you, moving them in pieces all the way from Savannakhet province and rebuild in Vientiane capital. It was my very first time in my life to build a house, and I always wish that you could come back and tell me what I should do with these old pieces of woods. I sometimes thought whether it’s worth to work on them, but I manage to finished them at last, with some adaptation. For nearly 2 years that it’s done, we never use it, and not many people see the hHouse Warming-02ouse attractive because it’s typical Lao house. But to me, I always say to myself that this house is lovely. I love looking at it and it make me smile inside. For me it’s symbol of you, your taste and happiness. Hope you will get to come back to see it by yourself soon. Jit

Sweden speaks out for Sombath

Swedish FlagThere are at least nine reported cases of forced disappearances in Laos. The disappearance of the civil society activist Mr Sombath Somphone is one of the most internationally renowned cases. Mr Sombath was last seen at a police checkpoint on 15 December 2012 and his whereabouts are still unknown. The government issued a statement that the disappearance of Mr Sombath would be thoroughly investigated. No results of the investigation have been publicly disclosed.

Sweden recommends that Laos intensify the investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Sombath and accepts external assistance in the investigation and make the results publicly known, and that Laos investigates in a transparent and credible manner all cases of enforced disappearances.

From the Swedish statement to the Universal Periodic Review on Laos held in Geneva on 20 January 2015.

ອົງການ HRW ຮຽກຮ້ອງໃຫ້ ນາໆ ຊາດ ກົດດັນລາວ ເລື້ອງ ທ່ານສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ

Voice of America: 03 ເມສາ 2015

Lao Embassy-Bangkok-2013-04

ບັນດານັກເຄື່ອນໄຫວ ເພື່ອສິດທິມະນຸດ ຖືປ້າຍລົນນະລົງ ທີ່ຮຽກຮ້ອງໃຫ້ ທາງການລາວນຳເອົາ ທ່ານສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ກັບຄືນມາຢ່າງປອດໄພ.

ກຸ່ມ​ເຄື່ອນໄຫວດ້ານສິດທິມະນຸດສາກົນ ຮຽກຮ້ອງໃຫ້ນານາຊາດ ເພີ້ມການກົດດັນລັດຖະບານລາວ ຕໍ່ກໍລະນີການຫາຍຕົວໄປຂອງ ທ່ານສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ນັກພັດທະນາສັງຄົມລາວ ທີ່ດີເດັ່ນຂອງ ອາຊ່ຽນ.

ກຸ່ມເຄື່ອນໄຫວດ້ານສິດທິມະນຸດສາກົນ Human Right Watch ໄດ້ຖະແຫລງການຮຽກຮ້ອງ ຕໍ່ນານາຊາດເພື່ອຂໍໃຫ້ເພີ້ມການກົດ ດັນລັດຖະບານລາວຕໍ່ກໍລະນີການຫາຍຕົວໄປ ຂອງທ່ານສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ນັກພັດທະນາ ສັງຄົມລາວ ທີ່ດີເດັ່ນ ຂອງອາຊ່ຽນ ໃນໂອກາດທີ່ລັດຖະບານອອສເຕຣເລຍ ໄດ້ເປັນເຈົ້າພາບ ຈັດການພົບປະເຈລະຈາ ວ່າດ້ວຍ ສະພາບ ການດ້ານສິດທິມະນຸດ ຄັ້ງທີ 4 ຮ່ວມກັບຄະນະ ຜູ້ຕາງໜ້າ ຂອງລັດຖະບານລາວ ເມື່ອບໍ່ນານມານີ້ ຢູ່ນະຄອນຫລວງ Canberra ປະເທດ ອອສເຕຣເລຍ.

ໂດຍຖະແຫລງການດັ່ງກ່າວ ໄດ້ສະເໜີແນະໃຫ້ລັດຖະບານອອສເຕຣເລຍ ຕ້ອງກົດດັນ ທາງການລາວ ເພື່ອໃຫ້ສະແດງຄວາມຮັບຜິດຊອບ ໃນການສືບສວນຫາຄວາມຈິງກ່ຽວກັບ ການຫາຍຕົວໄປຂອງ ທ່ານສົມບັດ ແລະ ນຳເອົາຕົວຜູ້ກະທຳຄວາມຜິດມາລົງໂທດ ຕາມ ກົດໝາຍໃຫ້ໄດ້ ຫາກບໍ່ສະນັ້ນແລ້ວ ການພົບປະເຈລະຈາດັ່ງກ່າວ ລະຫວ່າງທາງການ ອອສເຕຣເລຍ ກັບລາວ ກໍຈະບໍ່ມີປະໂຫຍດຫຍັງເລີຍ ນອກຈາກການພົບປະເຈລະຈາ
ປາກເປົ່າ ທີ່ມີຂຶ້ນຕາມກຳນົດເວລາເທົ່ານັ້ນ.

ແຕ່ຢ່າງໃດກໍຕາມ ການພົບປະເຈລະຈາດັ່ງກ່າວ ກໍໄດ້ຜ່ານພົ້ນໄປແລ້ວ ຫາກແຕ່ກໍຍັງບໍ່ ປາກົດວ່າ ໄດ້ມີໝາກຜົນແນວໃດເກີດຂຶ້ນ ຈາກການພົບປະເຈລະຈາໃນຄັ້ງນີ້ ຫຼືບໍ່ ເນື່ອງ ຈາກທາງການອອສເຕຣເລຍ ແລະ ລາວບໍ່ໄດ້ເຜີຍແຜ່ຂໍ້ມູນອອກມາ ສູ່ການຮັບຮູ້ໃນວົງ ກວ້າງແຕ່ຢ່າງໃດ. Continue reading