BANGKOK—Lao authorities are detaining nine people said to have been travelling by road to the Lao capital to stage a pro-democracy protest, according to Lao sources who asked not to be named.
On Nov. 2, a convoy set out from the Nam Ngum dam area of Thalat in Vientiane province, heading to Vientiane by taxi when authorities intercepted them in Phone Hong town, some 60 kms from Vientiane and also in Vientiane province, at around 5 a.m., relatives said.
Scores of people were taken into custody, held briefly, and released. Five were still held early Wednesday at an undisclosed location, Lao sources said. They were identified as Ms. Kingkeo, 39; Mr. Soubin, 35; Mr. Souane, 50; Mr. Sinprasong, 43; and Khamsone, 36.
Two busloads carrying about 75 travelers each meanwhile set out from the south, and were detained in Pakading town some 70 kms from Vientiane in Borikhamxay province, witnesses said.
They had planned to meet several hundred others at the Patuxay monument in Vientiane, sources said.
The four bus passengers still in custody as of early Wednesday were identified as Mr. Nou, 54, detained in Pakkading, and Ms. Somchit, 29, Mr. Somkhit, 28, and Sourigna, 26, who were detained in Vientiane.
Family members confirmed that all nine were under arrest, sources who asked not to be named said.
Most were connected with the Oct. 26, 1999 student protests in the communist Southeast Asian country—four of whose leaders remain in Samkhe prison in Vientiane after one died in custody.
“What have the 1999 students done that is so terrible as to warrant death and life imprisonment?” a source in Laos asked.
“I am appealing to the international community and the United Nations to look out for the welfare of the Lao people and country. The Lao people are suffering.”
According to the Paris-based Lao Movement for Human Rights, the planned protest aimed at promoting “a real democracy, respect for human rights, cancellation of the Laos-Vietnam Cooperation Treaty of 1977, the release of all political prisoners, and a multiparty system.”
Original reporting by RFA’s Lao service. Lao service director: Viengsay Luangkhot. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.