Amnesty International: 03 August 2016
Three Lao human rights activists have been arrested on 5 and 22 March in circumstances that may constitute enforced disappearances. They remain in incommunicado detention since they appeared on national television on 25 May in a report that confirmed that they had been arrested for threatening national security through social media postings.
Soukan Chaithad (32), Lodkham Thammavong (30), and Somphone Phimmasone (29) are Lao nationals who had been working in Thailand until February 2016, when they returned to Laos to obtain documentation to continue working there. The three had participated in a peaceful demonstration of around 30 people outside the Lao embassy in Bangkok on 2 December 2015, Lao national day, and had posted a number of messages on Facebook criticising the Laos government for corruption, deforestation and human rights violations.
Lodkham Thammavong and Somphone Phimmasone, who are a couple, were arrested at home in Ban Vang Tay Village, Nong Bok District, Khammuan Province on 5 March. Soukan Chaithad was arrested on 22 March, reportedly at the Ministry of Public Security office in Savannaket City, western Laos, where he had gone to renew his passport. The arrests may amount to enforced disappearances, as the whereabouts of the three are being concealed after their arrests.
On 25 May, the three appeared on state television wearing prison uniforms, sitting at a table in front of uniformed police and men in plain clothes, in a report that confirmed that they had been arrested for allegedly being a threat to national security through social media postings. During the report, Soukan Chaithad said that he would “change his attitude and stop all activities that betray the nation”. He added that his confession had not been coerced by the authorities.
The three still remain in incommunicado detention. It is unclear what offences they are accused of committing, whether they have been charged and where they are detained.
Please write immediately in Laotian or your own language:
- Calling on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Soukan Chaithad, Lodkham Thammavong and Somphone Phimmasone if they have been arrested solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly;
- Urging the authorities to publicly make known the charges against the three, their whereabouts and well-being;
- Demanding that the Lao authorities immediately cease the practice of enforced disappearances and ensure access of individuals arrested and charged with recognized criminal offences to their family and lawyers of their choosing, in line with international standards.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 SEPTEMBER 2016 TO:
Prime Minister’s Office
Lane Xang Avenue
Lao People’s Democratic Republic Fax: + 856 21 213560
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith Ministry of Foreign Affairs 23 Singha Road Vientiane
Lao People’s Democratic Republic Fax: + 856 21 414009
Email: [email protected] Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to: Minister of Justice Xaysy Santivong Ministry of Justice Lane Xang Avenue Vientiane
Lao People’s Democratic Republic Fax: + 856 21 414102
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation