ASEAN MPs Ask Australia to Pressurize Laos on Human Rights

Latin America Herald Tribune: 18 July 2017

BANGKOK – Lawmakers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged Australia to pressurize Laos to respect human rights on Monday.

Representatives of the two countries are set to meet for a human rights dialogue on Tuesday and Wednesday in Vientiane, the Laotian capital.

“The human rights situation in Laos continues to be abysmal. Since Sombath’s disappearance, the space for independent civil society in the country – already one of the most repressive in the region – has narrowed considerably. Meanwhile, the public as a whole remains deeply fearful of raising sensitive issues,” Charles Santiago, Malaysian MP and president of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said in a statement.

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Australia must tackle ‘dire’ situation in human rights talks with Laos – NGOs

Asia Correspondent: 17 July 2017

SET to enter the fifth round of human rights talks with Laos on Tuesday, civil society groups have called upon the Australian government to criticise a lack of progress regarding basic rights and freedoms in the one-party Southeast Asian nation.

The Australia-Laos Human Rights Dialogue is set to be held in the Laotian capital of Vientiane on July 18 and 19, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) reports to have received numerous submissions from local civil society organisations.

Australia is one of only two countries which have regular bilateral dialogue on human rights issues with the tiny communist state of Laos. Coincidentally, this year the two countries mark 65 years of diplomatic relations. The most recent Dialogue was held in Canberra in 2015.

A statement from the Australian embassy in Vientiane earlier this year highlighted “Laos’ relationship with Australia is the country’s longest unbroken diplomatic relationship at ambassador level.” Australia is also home to a sizeable Laotian community, many of whom came as refugees. (more…)

ASEAN MPs urge Australia to push for human rights improvements in Laos

APHR: 17 July 2017

JAKARTA — Southeast Asian lawmakers have called on Australian officials to press for improvements to the human rights situation in Laos when they meet with the Lao government for their fifth bilateral human rights dialogue tomorrow in Vientiane.

In a submission to the Australian government, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) urged members of the delegation to raise critical concerns about restrictions on civil society and fundamental freedoms with their Lao hosts, and called for further inquiry into the case of Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who disappeared after being stopped at a police checkpoint in Vientiane in December 2012.

“The human rights situation in Laos continues to be abysmal. Since Sombath’s disappearance, the space for independent civil society in the country – already one of the most repressive in the region – has narrowed considerably. Meanwhile, the public as a whole remains deeply fearful of raising sensitive issues,” said APHR Chairperson Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament, who has made multiple visits to Laos since 2012 to inquire about Sombath’s disappearance, as well as the broader situation for civil society. (more…)

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

Channel News Asia: 16 September 2016

sombath-shuimeng-07

Ng and Sombath on a trip to Japan in 2010 (Photo courtesy of Ng Shui Meng)

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 one, Ng Shui Meng’s tough facade cracked as she appeared to contemplate giving up what has been an arduous four-year slog to locate her missing husband Sombath Somphone.

“You always break down. You always try and make sense of things. All kinds of thoughts come through your mind, like ‘Why don’t you jump off a cliff? Why do you bother to wake up?’” said the Singapore-born, Laos-based woman.

It was a departure from the otherwise calm, measured manner of the 69-year-old PhD-holder in sociology, who met with Channel NewsAsia in a muggy shophouse along Chanthabouly District in Vientiane. (more…)

Menyelesaikan Permasalahan Pelanggaran HAM di Laos

Pertemuan ASEAN Harus Mengangkat Kasus Hilangnya Pemimpin Sombath Somphone, Penyangkalan Terhadap Kebebasan

BANGKOK, 31 Agustus 2016 – Pada malam pertemuan tahunan pimpinan negara ASEAN di Vientiane, kelompok-kelompok advokasi dan HAM memberikan seruan kepada Pemerintah Laos untuk menangani kasus pelanggaran HAM yang meluas di negara Laos, termasuk kasus penghilangan paksa dan penahanan yang sewenang-wenang. Para pemimpin negara yang hadir memiliki kesempatan unik untuk mengangkat kepedulian mereka terhadap pelanggaran HAM selama pertemuan tersebut di Vientiane dari tanggal 6 sampai 8 September. Mereka harus menekan pemerintah Laos untuk menghentikan pelanggaran HAM yang secara konsisten telah meletakkan Laos pada posisi terendah dalam indeks HAM dan pembangunan yang diukur berdasarkan hak asasi warga negara, kebebasan pres, demokrasi, kebebasan beragama, dan transparansi ekonomi.

Logo-Sombath InitiativePada konferensi pers yang diadakan oleh The Sombath Initiative di Foreign Correspondents Club, Bangkok, Thailand, kelompok-kelompok tersebut mempublikasikan satu set dokumen terkait dengan penghilangan paksa pemimpin masyarakat sipil, Sombath Somphone, pembatasan demokrasi dan HAM oleh pemerintah Laos, kurangnya kebebasan berpendapat, kegagalan pemerintah dalam menjalankan kewajiban HAM, dan dampaknya pada bantuan dan investasi asing.
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