Lao activist who was shot over weekend still alive, Human Rights Watch says

‘Jack’ Anousa had been reported dead, but family and others tell HRW that he is alive
Lao activist who was shot over weekend still alive, Human Rights Watch says Anousa “Jack” Luangsuphom, an administrator of a Facebook group critical of Laos one-party rule lies on a hospital bed with gunshot wounds.
Credit: Joseph Akaravong/ Kub Kluen Duay Keyboard.

Updated with an important correction at 10:40am EDT on May 4, 2023

A Lao political activist who was reported to have been shot and killed last Saturday in Vientiane by an unidentified gunman survived the shooting, the rights organization Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

“Reports received from multiple sources that Anousa ‘Jack’ Luangsuphom died on the way to the hospital on April 29, 2023, proved to be false,” said HRW in a "correction" to its previous report.

According to the statement, “Anousa’s family and other sources provided verbal confirmation and photographic evidence” that the activist survived the shooting and is now receiving medical treatment in a hospital in the Laos capital.

“Human Rights Watch emphasizes the responsibility of the Lao government to ensure protection for Anousa while he recovers, and to undertake a thorough and impartial investigation into the shooting,” it said.

Anousa “Jack” Luangsuphom is an administrator of a Facebook group that uncovered and denounced human rights abuses in Laos and called for the end of one-party rule. Credit: HRW

Anousa, 24, was the administrator of the Kub Kluen Duay Keyboard, or “Driven By Keyboard,” Facebook group that uncovered and denounced human rights abuses and called for the end of one-party rule in Laos.

In security camera footage that was later posted on the Facebook group page, Anousa was shot at 10:26 p.m. on Saturday in the After School Chocolate & Bar shop in Vientiane. 

In the footage, an unidentified gunman wearing a cap and beige jacket came to the door and apparently asked a question. He then closed the door briefly and reopened it, stepped into the shop and fired what sounded like two shots at Anousa, who was seated on or near the floor, before fleeing.

The victim “was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 4:00 a.m. Sunday,” the same Facebook page said.

Radio Free Asia had also reported Tuesday that Anousa had died in the shooting, based on the information from the Facebook group and confirmation from human rights groups.

Still alive

On Wednesday night, news emerged that Anousa is still alive. A photo of the activist apparently in the hospital was posted on the Kub Kluen Duay Keyboard page on Thursday, together with calls for donation for his treatment.

“Anousa was among the few people in Laos who regularly and openly expressed views that were critical of the Lao government,” HRW said, urging Laos authorities to “urgently conduct a credible and impartial investigation” into the shooting.

It accused Laos authorities of having “long failed to prevent or adequately respond to attacks against critics of the government, human rights defenders, and political activists.”

So far, the identity of the gunman remains unknown and no arrest has been made but the authorities told RFA Lao Thursday they were looking into the case.

“We are investigating accordingly and have set up an investigation team to find the culprits,”Lt. Col. Ubon Chounlamany, deputy director general of the Vientiane Capital Office of Public Security said.

On his Facebook page, which has over 10,000 followers, Anousa recently posted comments saying that while the government has blamed thick haze on farmers burning forests and farmland, city dwellers have also burned lots of trash and Chinese and Vietnamese companies have burned toxic waste that has polluted the air.

Last May, he published a post about how the Lao and Chinese governments helped each other get rich while Lao people have only grown poorer.

Translated by RFA Lao. Edited by Mike Firn and Malcolm Foster.

This story has been updated to correct that the activist did not die in the shooting as initially reported.


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May 05, 2023 06:23 AM

This isn't Laos; it's China Jr. complete with all the propaganda a person could hope for. In 20 years it'll just be a part of China and the name Laos will be wiped from future maps and history books.