Laos: Free former student leaders arbitrarily detained for 17 years


FIDH-OMCT & LMHR: 26 October 2016 The Lao government must immediately and unconditionally release two former pro-democracy student leaders who have been arbitrarily detained for 17 years and disclose the fate or whereabouts of two others, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint FIDH and OMCT partnership) and the Lao Movement for Human

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Solidarity Statement from Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Laureates


The May 18th Memorial Foundation: 21 October 2016 We gathered in Kuala Lumpur over two days – 20-21 October 2016 – at the invitation of the May 18 Memorial Foundation, Bersih 2.0 and Suaram. Eleven countries were represented: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste. We listened

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What is…Civil Society in Laos?

Logo-Sombath Initiative

Briefing paper prepared by the Sombath Initiative Historically, the Lao PDR is a country of remarkable ethnic, linguistic and geographic diversity. Until recently, most communities, particularly in rural areas, were largely self- sustaining and locally-governed. A strong, traditional civil society still exists. Substantially supported through development aid, state-building is quickly replacing these traditional codes and

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What is…Freedom of Expression in the Lao PDR?


Briefing paper prepared by International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Freedom of expression severely repressed Lao authorities impose severe restrictions on the right to freedom of expression in the country. The state controls almost all media in Laos. Repressive laws prevent free expression and the circulation of opinions and information. In the rare instances where people

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“Most people are now too scared…”


“Before the disappearance of Sombath, there was some optimism that civil society could be a force for change in Laos. Since his disappearance, such hopes have been virtually extinguished, since most people are now too scared to do anything that might rile the regime,” Martin Steward-Fox in Laos: Reform or Revolution, The Diplomat, 28 September 2016

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What are…Laos’ International Human Rights Obligations & Commitments?


Briefing paper prepared by Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) has participated in the first two rounds of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of its human rights records, but its compliance and engagement with other UN human rights mechanisms has been very limited, despite its treaty obligations and UPR commitments. This

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Singaporean wife of missing Laos man: ‘Time can never heal a wound like this’


Channel News Asia: 16 September 2016 Sombath Somphone’s high-profile disappearance in 2012 came into focus again during the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane. Although world leaders shied away from public mention of the Laotian civil society leader, his other half Ng Shui Meng vows to keep searching for her husband until her “dying day”. For a moment, just

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Mystery surrounds disappearance of Laos man after traffic stop


USA Today: 11 September 2016 The last time Ng Shui Meng saw her husband, he was driving his beloved vintage American jeep. That was a December evening almost four years ago, after Sombath Somphone was stopped by traffic police. He never arrived home for dinner. The disappearance of Sombath, 64, a prominent Lao activist who focused on rural development and

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For disappeared man’s wife, Obama trip yields little

Shui Meng Ng, the wife of Sombath Somphone, who disappeared in Laos in 2012. She has appealed to President Barack Obama for help in finding out what happened to her husband.

CNN: 08 September 2016 In 1975, 14-year-old Barack Obama and 23-year-old Sombath Somphone were both living in Oahu, the future US president starting high school and the Lao exchange student on his way toward a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii. Forty-one years later, their paths converged again, in a way. Obama this week

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Obama aide to meet with wife of missing UH-educated Laotian activist


Honolulu Star Advisor: 06 September 2016 A top aide of President Barack Obama said he will meet with the wife of a missing Laotian activist and East-West Center graduate, whose case has been repeatedly highlighted by human rights groups as an example of authoritarian excesses of Laos’ one-party Communist government. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben

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