Lao Villager Released After Accepting ‘Compensation’ for Seized Land

The woman and another villager, who is still being held, had been shown arguing with police in a video published on Facebook.

Lao Villager Released After Accepting ‘Compensation’ for Seized Land

A Lao woman held since March for protesting the government seizure of village land for a medical college and hospital was released after her family accepted compensation for their property loss, RFA has learned.

Keo, a resident of Xiengda village in the Saysettha district of the Lao capital Vientiane, was detained on March 16 after arguing with police in a dispute that was later shown in a video published on Facebook, local sources told RFA in an earlier report.

She has now been freed from detention, a family member told RFA’s Lao Service on June 8.

“Keo was released more than a month ago after her family released their land to the authorities, who gave them back a 500-square-meter plot and 73 million kip [U.S. $8,100] in compensation,” the relative said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Keo was “reeducated” by police and told not to resume her protest before being freed, and no money was paid to secure her release, RFA’s source said.

A young villager named Poy , who was also seen arguing with police in the video released on Facebook, was detained at about the same time as Keo and is still being held at the Saysettha district police station but has not been formally charged, a relative of the young man said.

“The authorities haven’t told us anything about him yet. Our family members sometimes go to visit him at the Crime Division,” the relative said, also speaking on condition he not be named.

Reached for comment, the Saysettha police station offered no explanation for why Poy has not yet been released.

Laos often comes under criticism for land grabs in which authorities seize land from people for development projects without paying them fair compensation for lost crops, property, and livelihoods.

Rights groups say the illegal appropriations violate basic human rights and that such land grabs are a major cause of social tensions in Laos and in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Max Avary. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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Supporters of Missing Thai Activist Demand Cambodia Probe His Alleged Kidnapping in Phnom Penh

Cambodian officials say they know nothing of the abduction and suggest it is a rumor cooked up by the opposition.

Supporters of Missing Thai Activist Demand Cambodia Probe His Alleged Kidnapping in Phnom Penh

Some 100 supporters of a Thai political activist who was snatched from the streets of Cambodia’s capital in broad daylight protested Monday in front of the country’s embassy in Bangkok, demanding that Phnom Penh investigate his case, while Cambodian officials continued to disavow knowledge of his abduction.

The supporters also accused the Thai government of having orchestrated the kidnapping of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, 37, who had fled to Cambodia from Thailand, where he was wanted by authorities for criticizing the former Thai junta. Wanchalearm was apparently abducted by gunmen in front of his apartment complex in Phnom Penh on Thursday afternoon as he talked to his sister on a phone.

Both Thailand’s government and police force have denied involvement in his disappearance. Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters Monday that he had no information on the case, but said the government would discuss it with Cambodian authorities.

Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service, Cambodian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Koy Koung said his ministry was unable to verify news of Wanchalearm’s abduction.

He said that the Foreign Ministry had received a diplomatic note from the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh asking Cambodia to investigate the alleged kidnapping but referred the matter to “relevant authorities.”

“This case depends on the relevant competent authorities, particularly the Ministry of the Interior,” he said. “The police can verify whether the reports are true or not.”

Deputy chief of the National Police and director of the Ministry of Interior’s Central Security Department Dy Vichea told RFA on Sunday that he has “no knowledge” of the alleged abduction and referred questions about it to members of the banned opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in exile who have accused him of being behind Wanchalearm’s disappearance.

International rights groups have called on Cambodian authorities to urgently investigate the case and for Thai authorities to confirm whether Wanchalearm was arrested at their request.

“This would not be the first time that Thai citizens have vanished after expressing their political opinions,” London-based Amnesty International said in a statement last week.

“Wanchalearm is outspoken on social media—his sudden disappearance in a violent incident is deeply alarming.”

Since a 2014 military coup that toppled the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, at least 104 people have fled Thailand over fears of prosecution, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, a local NGO.

At least 98 people were charged with violating the strict royal defamation law known as Lese-Majeste, and 119 others were charged with sedition, according to iLaw, an online legal advocate group. Authorities also have filed charges under the Computer Crimes Act.

In recent years, at least eight Thai activists who fled after the 2014 coup have disappeared from Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam, with the bodies of two of them later found floating in the Mekong River.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sok Ry Sum. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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