Seven Activists Languishing In Jail

Lao rebels are serving sentence under appalling conditions

2011.11.23
Thai security personnel stand next to Thai, Laos flags during the opening of the second friendship bridge over the Mekong river at the Thai-Laos border, Dec. 20, 2006.
AFP

Seven dissidents from Laos who raided a checkpoint along the border with Thailand 11 years ago to publicize their dissatisfaction with their communist government continue to languish in jail under appalling conditions, according to one of the activists who has been released.

"Their morale is low and their health is in bad shape," said Phaysarn Linthong, who was freed in July and has since emigrated to Thailand.

"We had all thought we would get foreign support to back our cause, but nobody came to our help," he told RFA, speaking for the first time since his release.

The seven are among 16 dissidents who were deported to Laos from Thailand after they had joined more than 30 armed men, including 11 Thais, in staging a raid on a Lao border checkpoint on July 3, 2000 to highlight their opposition to the Lao government in Vientiane.

The men, calling themselves "freedom fighters," had put up a royal flag at the Chong Mek-Vang Tao crossing and demanded an end to decades of communist rule and the restoration of the constitutional monarchy in Laos.

The Thai government under Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra ordered their deportation despite a Bangkok court order rejecting a request from Vientiane for the extradition of the 16.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had expressed concern over the deportation and the refusal by the Thai authorities to grant it access to the 16 rebels after they applied for refugee status.

Bang Yo prison

Linthong, among nine dissidents who had been released, said all of them were held at the Bang Yo prison in Pakse district, Champassak Province.

He said he had met while in prison with the seven, who still have five more years to serve their full jail term.

"The prison was overcrowded and dirty and that's why all of us are in poor health," said the 45-year-old Linthong, looking weak and fragile. "We were forced to work and fed twice daily with very small portions of cooked rice and catfish."

"About 500 to 600 prisoners had to share one or two kilograms of fish," he lamented.

"Because of my physical condition, I am unable to find a job," he said, adding however that he was glad to be reunited with his family who had been living in Thailand while he was in jail.

Most of the relatives of the 16 had been residing in Thailand's Ubon Ratchathani province.

Reported by RFA's Lao service. Translated by Viengsay Luangkhot. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

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COMMENTS

Anonymous
Nov 28, 2011 11:47 AM

Lao law, Lao jail and Laotiane's way of punishment leave Laos alone.

Anonymous
Nov 29, 2011 03:23 AM

I thought we have been the US for 30 yrs and learned a lot from this country but I guess we aren't learning anything. It's time to change in Laos for the better of people who are living in Laos not in US real nationalist.

Anonymous
Nov 28, 2011 10:37 AM

I dont agree w/this activists.They might been pushed by somebodyelse. Laos has relationship w/more than 150 countries and organizations all around the world. If they are true Laotians. Do something to help instead of destroy. I understand that the current regime is not perfect. However no other countries are perfect. Especially, landlock country like our country. I can go back there anytime I want to. Able to enjoy as much as I can. I have been living in the US for more than 30 yrs. I am naturalize citizen, however, I am still Lao descendent. No one which lives in the US go back to his/her country to destroy, except uneducated people, which rarely done.

Anonymous
Nov 29, 2011 05:59 AM

I would like to blame old regim never teach a kid the right way, three head Elephan need to distoy it, that make many kids mistakend, Lao alway be lao.Now is booming and welcome to everyome come to visit and stay, most peoples talk bad about lao they did not have any money, too much gamble at casino, also they have lose family.

Anonymous
Nov 24, 2011 03:46 AM

This is a common form of mistreatment of prisoners in Leninist one-party autocratic regimes: intentionally give prisoners an inadequate or semi-starvation diet while making them do forced labor so as to have them tortured by their growling stomachs each and every day.

Anonymous
Jan 15, 2012 10:06 AM

i thankyou for the communistgovernment
rule lao over 30 years, i support one party government control, my friend you think why i say that, let think about lao
story between king chao fageun to this present, lao has 3 king, lao fight lao,lao
kill lao to this present time,and still continue kill and jail lao people, usually
lao people never see other country and education from foreig, and lao people afraid to die, and no one can overthrow
the communist government, i think lao
people like communist rule,choumaly sayasome and khantai sipandone say we are
working free no money, we don't need money
we love country, we protect our country
but your boss has over million dollars in
foreig bank.their have branch new car,
branch new house, but you have nothing
obey communist government law and go back
home if you wish,that is no way you talk
talk about overthrow them, i born in lao
i go lao now my friend.