BANGKOK – An isolated murder, a brutal attempted killing and a murky disappearance: Laotian activists have been caught up in a series of alarming incidents recently that have spooked the reclusive communist state’s embattled dissident community.
Landlocked, poor and deeply tied to China, Laos is one of the world’s most repressive countries, with independent civil society barely present, free media nonexistent and rare protests quickly dispersed.
Now a spate of incidents involving government critics has sparked fears of a crackdown as the country gears up to take the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year.
The latest wave of incidents began in late April when a gunman shot campaigner Anousa “Jack” Luangsuphom in the head and body in a brazen attack at a Vientiane cafe.
ROSE TROUP BUCHANAN/AFP-JIJI