61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:Freedom for the prisoners of conscience in Laos
10.12.2009 - 21:23:35

Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l'Homme (MLDH)
Lao Movement for Human Rights
BP 123 - 77206 Torcy Cedex, France - Téléphone/Fax : 33 (0) 1 60 06 57 06
e-mail : mldh@mldh-lao.org - website : http://www.mldh-lao.org

Press release Paris, 10 December 2009

61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Freedom for the prisoners of conscience in Laos !!

On December 10th, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nation adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Laos conveys a particular dimension as the Lao People's Democratic Republic ( LPDR) is the host of the 25th South East Asian Games (SEA Games), from 9-18 December in Vientiane.

These 25th SEA Games, like a machine programmed to stultify the population, officially opened in a lavish and pompous ceremony, totally forgetting the discrimination and the absences of freedom in a country where human rights defenders have been jailed for the last ten years by a regime that has proven to be totally intransigent to political opening and freedom of expression, assembly or protest.

On November 2nd, 2009, more than 300 persons were arrested, simultaneously, in different places of the country, while they were heading to Vientiane to claim for justice and their basic rights. If most of the persons arrested have been released, many of them are still detained at this moment, among whom Mrs Kingkeo (39), Misters Soubin (35), Souane (50), Sinpasong (43) and Khamsone (36) arrested in Phon Hong; Mr Nou (54) arrested in Pakkading; Ms Somchit (29), Misters Somkhit (28) and Sourigna (26) arrested in Vientiane.

The LPDR's leaders continue their policy of denying the arrests, just like in 1999 when they denied the arrests of Thongpaseuth KEUAKOUN, Sengaloun PHENGPHANH, Bouavanh CHANMANIVONG, Khamphouvieng SISA-AT and KEOCHAY, the leaders of a peaceful march of the Movement of 26 October 1999 (Khamphouvieng SISA-AT died in prison of torture and ill treatment in 2001).
In Laos, opinions that are contrary to the single Party are not allowed. The Lao government never stops using intimidations, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment and threats to silence citizens, civil society, human rights defenders as well as religious minorities.

The Lao Movement for Human Rights asks the LPDR's government to implement the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Laos on 25 September 2009, to release immediately and without condition all these persons arrested for having wanted to exert their rights and their freedom of opinion. The ICCPR requires State parties to assure its citizens freedoms of expression and association and to apply all articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to Article 5 of this Convention, prisoners must be treated in a manner which respects internationally recognised human rights standards.

The context in which the peaceful protesters of 26 October 1999 and those of 2 November 2009 were arrested demonstrates the Lao Government's failure to institute policies as required by the international covenants and declarations binding upon it.

On this International Human Rights Day, the Lao Movement for Human Rights, once again, strongly reiterates its appeal to the international community - in particular the European Union and its Member States, the United Nations, the United States, Japan, Australia, ASEAN -- so that concrete and concerted actions are taken, in order to reach true democratic reforms in Laos, and to bring Freedom, Democracy, State of right, and national Reconciliation in this country.