Laos: Khamphouvieng Sisa-At | Letter

Re: Khamphouvieng Sisa-At

To: Bounyang Vorachit, Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Mr. Alounkeo Kittikhoun, Permanent Mission of Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the UN

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier, member of LRWC

Date: 2004-06-07

LRWC is distressed by information indicating that one of the leaders of the Lao Students’ Movement for Democracy of 26 October 1999 (the “26 October 1999 Movement” or “Movement”), Khamphouvieng Sisa-At, died while in custody at the Samkhe prison near Vientiane in late 2001. According to information conveyed to the Lao Movement for Human Rights, and, in turn, to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Sisa-At died after prolonged heat exposure. The information about the circumstances of Mr. Sisa-At’s death emerged in May 2004 following the release of other prisoners who were witness to it.

LRWC is aware that a number of individuals associated with the 26 October 1999 Movement were arrested in late October 1999 by secret police following the Movement’s public calls for the release of political prisoners, respect for human rights, a multi-party political system and elections for a new National Assembly. Given the new information about Mr. Sisa-At’s death, LRWC fears for the safety of members of the 26 October 1999 Movement whose whereabouts are unknown, but some of whom have been confirmed by the Government to be in custody. The missing individuals include Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, Sengaloun Phengphanh, Bouavanh Chanhmanivong, and Keochay.

LRWC calls on the Lao Government to take the following actions:

  • provide information on the whereabouts of Mssrs. Keuakoun, Phengphanh, Chanhmanivong, and Keochay;
  • release Mssrs. Keuakoun, Phengphanh, Chanhmanivong, and Keochay immediately and unconditionally;
  • return Mr. Sisa-At’s remains to his relatives;
  • end government opposition to human rights defenders; and
  • ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.

LRWC respectfully reminds the Government of Laos of its duty to promote and protect the activities of human rights advocates in Laos, as confirmed by the Declaration on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998.

LRWC also urges the Government to finally ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by Laos in 2000.

Please advise LRWC, by mail, e-mail or fax, of the actions that the Government of Laos is taking in relation to the matters discussed above. LRWC awaits your response.