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Flashermac

Lao activist vanishes in Bangkok

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A Lao man working in Bangkok has disappeared after criticising his country’s government online and in public protests, Lao sources say.

Od Sayavong, 34, vanished on Aug 26 after telling a roommate that he would be home for dinner, the roommate told the Lao Service of Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“At around 6pm, he sent me a text message telling me to cook rice for dinner, and that he would buy some other food on his way home, as he didn’t want to eat the food left in the refrigerator,” RFA quoted the friend as saying.

“We waited for him until 11pm, and then until midnight, but he never showed up. Another roommate of ours called Tiger tried many times to reach him on the phone, but the calls didn’t connect, so we finally decided to eat without him.”

Another friend who lives in the same building in Bung Kum district of Bangkok said he had seen Od briefly on the morning of the day he went missing.

“I saw him go off to work wearing his work uniform. I didn’t talk to him or ask him anything,” he said.

Od, who worked as a cook at a restaurant near his home, had been awaiting resettlement to a third country since the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Bangkok registered him as a person of concern in December 2017.Colleagues of the Lao activist filed a report with Thai police on Sept 2 but no progress in the investigation has been reported.
 
Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, a Defence Ministry spokesman, on Friday denied knowledge of Od’s whereabouts.
 
Od’s involvement in politics was the likely reason for his disappearance, the friend said.“He had come out to protest against the [Lao] government, and most recently he had posted a video clip online criticising the Lao government during the time of the Asean meetings in Thailand,” he said.
 
According to Human Rights Watch, members of "Free Lao" group in Thailand said that in recent weeks they been put under surveillance and intimidated by Thai and Lao authorities. “They believe this is to stop them from protesting or otherwise criticising the Lao government during the Asean People’s Forum, being held in Bangkok from Sept 10-12.”
 
Part of a group of Lao dissidents living in Bangkok, Od had taken part in a June 16 protest in Bangkok  calling for political freedoms and human rights in the opaque communist state, especially for victims of government land grabs and dam collapses that have left hundreds stuck in poor housing without a way to earn a living.

He had also called for the release of three Lao workers given long prison terms in April 2017 for criticising their government while working in Thailand, and for a UN investigation into the still-unsolved disappearance of rural development expert Sombath Somphone.

Sombath disappeared on Dec 15, 2012, when police stopped him in his vehicle at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Vientiane. He was then transferred to another vehicle, according to a police surveillance video, and has not been heard from since.

Before his abduction, Sombath had challenged massive land deals negotiated by the government that had left thousands of rural Lao villagers homeless with little paid in compensation. The deals sparked rare popular protests in Laos, where political speech is tightly controlled.

In a Sept 6 statement, the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights and its member organisation Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR) called on Thai authorities to immediately investigate the activist’s disappearance.

“Od sought refuge in Thailand but the country has become increasingly unsafe for asylum seekers,” the rights group wrote.

“Thai authorities must immediately determine Od’s fate or whereabouts and the government must adopt measures that guarantee the rights of asylum seekers in accordance with international standards.”

Speaking to RFA on Friday, LMHR president Vanida Thepsouvanh said that Od’s case reminds her of the three Lao workers jailed in 2017 who had been kidnapped on their return from Thailand to Laos and then vanished in custody until their trial and sentencing.

“This appears to be a forced disappearance,” she said.

Earlier this year, Truong Duy Nhat, a Vietnamese political activist who had sought refuge in Thailand, was abducted. The blogger went missing on Jan 26 in Bangkok, where he had fled to seek political asylum.

It is suspected that Nhat was abducted by unknown individuals in Bangkok before being taken back to Vietnam against his will. In March 2019, he was revealed to be detained in a jail in Hanoi.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1744989/lao-activist-vanishes-in-bangkok

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I saw this on the coconuts web thingy, but was hesitant to post of it.

Even though I think we're relatively safe here, in terms of being 'surveilled', I'd suggest we're not so immune, if it came to a determined investigator with half a brain.

I still think that the efficacy of the 'systems' that LOS and Laos have, in regard to putting a finger on someone, are pretty rudimentary.

But they prolly still have a few older folk, who could use traditional, non 'Insta', non 'facebook', methods that are more logic based, to come up with a name and details, if interested.

The fellow missing in the original post, would been easily found on account of his registering with authorities and giving his name, address, etc. Perhaps not a wise move, if you're protesting the 'ogres' of an authoritarian regime.

two coconut missives ::

https://coconuts.co/bangkok/news/laos-activist-feared-missing-in-thailand-rights-groups/

https://coconuts.co/bangkok/news/we-are-the-last-targets-thai-dissident-band-in-laos-fear-death/

The second article demonstrates my point, a musical band of protestors whom, have a need for publicity, giving the 'ogres' every chance to find them.

Mind you, it seems they're in Paris now.

I'd not heard of stuffing one's stomach with concrete before.

I wonder if this is the end result of torture, or if it is post mortem. It certainly looks like it sends a message, given all the sayings, that involve rice bowls and food...

From the Bangkok Post Article: "Sombath had challenged massive land deals negotiated by the government"

- I'm not sure that this is based in fact, my/our limited knowledge of this, is that he never challenged the 'ogres' on anything, and was particular, to keep his efforts directed towards non-controversial areas.

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I have a Lao refugee friend who is terrified of the current Lao government. She visited her relatives in Laos a few years ago, but after a few days they advised to to leave, saying they couldn't protect her.  Even though she had fled with her parents as a small child, she was still considered the enemy because she had "rejected" taking part in the "glorious revolution", and bad things sometimes happened to such people.

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There's a lot left unsaid, in MLG's family, particularly about those, currently residing in places like the USA and Oz.

Though as perhaps previously mentioned, there are some on the 'other' side of the family that include current members of Govt. Some protection, perhaps...

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14 hours ago, Flashermac said:

I have a Lao refugee friend who is terrified of the current Lao government. She visited her relatives in Laos a few years ago, but after a few days they advised to to leave, saying they couldn't protect her.  Even though she had fled with her parents as a small child, she was still considered the enemy because she had "rejected" taking part in the "glorious revolution", and bad things sometimes happened to such people.

Yes, my Son is married to a Lao woman in California.  Her parents also fled the country during the war.  They instilled in her a fear of the Lao government still.

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I prolly shouldn't say this, but I guess it is anonymised enough -  

There is an embassy for the Lao, not so far from here, wot handles all the passport renewals from Lao folk around here.

The process is two step - they have to 'register' the person on a paper registration form. With cash in an envelope. The passport renewal form, is then sent back, with instructions to 'send it yourself to Vientiane and get it done there'.

Multiple instances of this.

Fuck-knuckles.

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Back in the days before Chairman Kaysone, one had to go to the Royal Lao Embassy in Bangkok to get a visa. No visas on arrival. Of course, I did visit Laos once by simply taking a bus across the border from Ubon. No problem with day trips.  :)

Also, your visa was in Lao and ... FRENCH!  :yikes:

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The most Senior of the gentlemen who vetted me before I could marry MLG, spoke fluent French, he still, despite his age, advises the Govt. He's even older than you Flash :)

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And another reason not to engage with the Lao authorities ::

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1750409/no-proof-in-jailing-of-engineer-in-laos

No proof' in jailing of engineer in Laos
PUBLISHED : 15 SEP 2019 AT 06:41
NEWSPAPER SECTION: NEWS
WRITER: ANUCHA CHAROENPO

 

c1_1750409_190915061709.jpg
Kittidet (right): Thailand won't help him

Lawyers are calling for the immediate release of a Thai engineer who has been detained in a Lao detention centre for over 10 months after being accused of causing about 1.7 million baht in damages to a Lao company's business.

Kittidet Latthi, 48, was arrested and detained last October in Vientiane.

His lawyers say the statutory period of his detention has now expired.

Peerapat Thongteerasakul, a lawyer for Mr Kittidet, said Lao police have been unable to provide the engineer's legal team with clear evidence to substantiate the charge that his client had acted illegally as accused.

"The investigation into Mr Kittidet's case has taken over 10 months, but they [the Lao police] can't provide evidence to confirm Mr Kittidet did anything illegal. He should be released as quickly as possible," said Mr Peerapat.

He added that he had appointed a Lao lawyer to act on his behalf in defending Mr Kittidet and provide him with legal advice.

The Lao lawyer informed him the statutory period of Mr Kittidet's detention expired on Feb 24, and Lao authorities had not issued a warrant to extend Mr Kittidet's detention.

This means his client should have been freed or granted bail if the authorities did not want to conduct a further investigation into the matter, he said.

Mr Kittidet should have the right to a fair trial in Laos' justice system, he added.

"The Lao laws should apply equally to all nationals, and he should be able to bring his dispute before a court.

"He should not be detained illegally to compensate for damages that have not been proven," Mr Peerapat said.

"Over the past months, the Lao lawyer has submitted letters to both Lao police and prosecutors, calling for justice and fair treatment of Mr Kittidet. We have also asked them how much progress has been made in the investigation.

"The Lao police told us they had forwarded the case to prosecutors for consideration, but all we know is that there is still no clear evidence or witnesses to substantiate the charge against Mr Kittidet," he said.

"The damages to the business he was accused of harming were also not specified in the police case report that was sent to prosecutors."

Mr Peerapat added the prosecutors informed the Lao lawyer that Mr Kittidet is a foreigner, and the company he worked for issued a letter to them, that he has caused 1.7 million baht in damages to the company's business.

They decided not to release him on these grounds.

If he fled, they would have to take responsibility.

He said the Lao lawyer repeatedly asked prosecutors to provide him with the evidence and witnesses that would specifically support the allegations made against his client.

He said the lawyer also questioned the prosecutors about what types of damages were involved. However, the prosecutors did not reply or issue an indictment against him.

He went on to say that his Lao representative has also sought bail for his client, but has not received a response on that request either.

Mr Kittidet was hired by the Lao company to work as an engineer in 2013.

He was arrested on Oct 20 last year at a Lao immigration checkpoint in Vientiane while travelling back to Thailand. He is now being detained at Phon Tong detention centre in Vientiane.

His wife, Khwanta, 47, a native of Buri Ram's Nang Rong district, has been travelling between Laos and Thailand to visit her husband at the centre throughout his 10-month detention.

"I still don't know why my husband is being detained. What is the particular offence that he committed? We miss him so much and we worry about his safety," Ms Khwanta told the Bangkok Post.

She said she has spent several million baht on lawyers' fees and travel between the two countries.

"How much more money will we have to spend in the future? My husband is the main earner in the household.

"If the case remains unsolved and he is not released shortly, my family will be in trouble," Ms Khwanta said.

Throughout the ordeal, she and her legal team have sought help from state organisations including the Royal Thai Embassy in Laos, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister's Office, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the Attorney-General.

It is unclear what actions they have taken, but the family appears to be getting little help.

Last month, they sent another letter to request the assistance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Thailand to help Mr Kittidet.

They asked the commissioner to address Mr Kittidet's unfair detention and help facilitate his urgent release from the Lao detention centre, and help him undergo a fair justice process.

"I also want to ask the Thai agencies: Why are they not giving a helping hand to Mr Kittidet after learning of his plight?" said Mr Peerapat.

---

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