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Lao Authorities Arrest Woman for Criticizing Flood Relief Efforts on Facebook

Houayheuang Xayabouly in an undated photo~Citizen journalist

A woman in Laos was arrested last week on charges of defaming the country after she posted criticism on Facebook of the slow government response to severe floods in the country’s southern provinces, sources say.

Houayheuang Xayabouly, 30, criticized the government for delaying their rescue effort, leaving many victims still trapped in areas cut off by floodwaters.

A source familiar with her case told RFA’s Lao Service she was arrested on Thursday and is in custody in Champassak province.

“The police confirmed her arrest and she’s now being detained in the Champassak provincial jail,” the source said on Friday.

“She is not allowed to meet anyone yet because the police are still investigating her,” said the source.

The criticism was posted in a Facebook Live video, where she complained about delays in rescuing victims in Champassak and Salavan provinces on September 5.

“She was arrested because she was critical of local authorities for the delay, [saying] they left the flooded villagers to their own devices,” said a source, who lives in Houayheuang Xayabouly’s neighborhood.

The police of the provincial investigation unit filed a report to the provincial prosecutor Thursday confirming the arrest and charges.

Her family applied at Champassak’s Phonethong district police station Monday to have her released on bail, but an officer there told RFA the decision to grant bail must go through the provincial police station.

“We have no idea if the relevant authorities, including the provincial police and prosecutors will allow her out on bail. She’s been charged with defaming the Lao PDR as well as the party and the state, which goes against Article 117 of Criminal Law,” said the officer.

The arrest came a little more than a week after a Lao man working in Thailand disappeared after criticizing his country’s government online and in public protests.

Od Sayavong, 34, vanished on Aug. 26 after telling a roommate that he would be home for dinner.

Part of a group of Lao dissidents living in Bangkok, Od had taken part in a June 16 protest in the city calling for political freedoms and human rights in Laos, especially for the victims of government land grabs and dam collapses that have left hundreds stuck in poor housing without a way to earn a living.

He had also called for the release of three Lao workers given long prison terms in April 2017 for criticizing their government while working in Thailand.

Rights groups chime in

According to a press release from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Article 117 punishes with prison terms of one to five years and a fine of five to 20 million Kip (approximately US$570 to US$2,280) anyone who conducts “propaganda activities against and slandering the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, […] or circulating false rumors causing disorder by words, in writing, through print, newspapers, motion pictures, videos, photographs, documents or other media which are detrimental to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic or are for the purpose of undermining or weakening State authority.”

FIDH expressed disappointment that authorities arrested Houayheuang Xayabouly for exercising her right to freedom of speech.

“It is absolutely shocking and unacceptable that the authorities have arrested this local woman just because she was calling for victims of this disaster to get further assistance,” FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Storthard told RFA’s Lao Service.

“She was simply trying to get help for her community and it is ridiculous and horrifying that the Laos government has done this to her,” she added.

Meanwhile, Konakok Thadam, an official at Amnesty International’s Thailand office, told RFA, “Houayheuang Xayabouly has the basic right to express her opinion in support of rescuing people from the flooding crisis. She is not intentionally trying to overthrow the government.”

Critical opinion

Houayheuang Xayabouly’s 17-minute-long Facebook Live video on September 5 was viewed 150,000 times.

In the video, she said, “In this emergency situation, I am not in need of food and water yet, but yesterday [September 4], a huge flood came and people here were up on the roofs of their houses trying to escape. Where is the helicopter for rescuing those people?”

“I cannot be silent as we have been in the past. The era of the regime keeping the eyes and mouths of the people closed has come to an end,” she added.

While the government says it is doing what it can to assist victims of the flood, many have gone without any help.

A villager in Salavan province’s Khongsdone district said that even days into the flooding “villagers have not received any relief from authorities.”

Another villager in Champassak’s Sanansomboun district reported that nearly 600 villagers were on their own after the flooding, surviving in the jungle for three days without any help after fleeing to the mountains.

The flood in Laos’ southern provinces was preceded by a prolonged drought. Experts have said that climate change is likely responsible for longer dry periods and more severe storms in the Mekong region.

Estimates by the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance suggest that 572,000 people have been affected by the flood. As of September 11, at least 14 people have lost their lives in the floods.

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Eugene Whong

Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, WashingtonDC20036. https://www.rfa.org

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Top

India News Brief

4 July, 2020

As COVOD-19 Case Rise, Kolkata Bans Flights from Mumbai,Delhi, Chennai,Pune,Nagpur and Ahmeda bad
22,771 COVID-19 Cases and 442 Deaths in the Last 24 Hours
Delhi's Jama Masjid Reopens for Public Amid Tight Social Distancing Norms

Total COVID Cases: 648,318 Death Toll: 18,655

India's Most Affected States:

Maharashtra: Total Positive Cases: 192,990 Total Deaths: 8,376

Gujarat: Total Positive Cases: 34,686  Total Deaths: 1,906

Madhya Pradesh: Total  Positive Cases: 14,297 Total Deaths: 593

West Bengal: Total Positive Cases: 20,488 Total Deaths: 717

Delhi: Total Positive Cases: 94,695 Total Deaths: 2,923

Rajasthan: Total Positive Cases: 19,256 Total Deaths: 443

Uttar Pradesh: Total Positive  Cases: 25,797 Total Deaths: 749

Tamil Nadu : Total Positive Cases: 1,02,721 Total Deaths: 1,385

Andhra Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 16,934 Total Deaths: 206

Telengana: Total Positive Cases:20,762 Total Deaths: 283

Karnataka: Total Positive Cases: 19,710 Total Deaths: 293

Punjab: Total Positive Cases: 5,937 .Total Deaths: 157

Jammu and Kashmir: 8,019 Total Deaths: 119

The West Bengal Government Allows 50 People at Marriage Functions and Funerals during the current phase of COVID-19 Lockdown from 1 July to 31 July.
According to Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, morning walks will be allowed from 5.30 a.m to 8.30 a.m provided social distancing and other norms.
The new guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 30 June: Schools, colleges, educational institutions, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places, and even metro services will continue to remain shut until July 31

India Reports 18,522 New Cases and 418 Deaths in 24 Hours 

COVID-19: Highlights 

Schools May Reopen in August According to Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokriyal.

Religious Places Visit: No Touching of Deity, No no Sparkling of Holy Water No Prasada in Temples Wearing Mask Thermal Screening is a must 

Shopping Malls Visit: Elderly People With 65 Years of Age and Children Below 10 Years Are Advised to Stay at Home.

Restaurant and food courts in malls to operate at 50 per cent seating capacity with a mandatory distance of six feet between tables. No common prayer mats, physical offerings like prasad, or sprinkling of holy water, in places of worship. Age and health-based restrictions on stepping out of home. Masks to be mandatory, and the Aarogya Setu app 'recommended' for all.

Use of masks, thermal screening, social distancing and sanitisation, the guidelines  require people above 65 years of age, specially  people with comorbidities, pregnant woman, and children below the age of 10 years, to stay at home. Masks are mandatory at all times, including inside restaurants

15 Day Amarnath Yarra Starts from 22 July

Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Indian Health Ministry 

Lockdown extends till June 30

  • International air travel, Metro rail services not allowed 

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations will not allowed..

According to MHA guidelines, in Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission or approval or e-permit will be required for such movement

But  states have the freedom to decide on public movement.

COVID-19: Delhi Death Toll Rises to 82 in Last 24 Hours

Probable Guidelines for Lockdown 5.0.

More travel routes are likely to open in Lockdown 5.0.

From June 1, the Railways will operate 100 pairs of mail or express trains, bookings have already begun. Then AC class services will resume.

Some states have already begun intra-state buses. Other states may  begin intra-tate bus services after June 1.Metro  services may begin in a limited manner, with lesser passenger capacity, social distancing norms and longer stops at each station.

Shops selling non-essential items were allowed to open during Lockdown 4.0.. More shops may open in Lockdown 5.0 even in markets.But no confirmed news regarding opening of shopping malls.Now many shops that have re-opened in market areas are operating on an odd-even basis.

Some cities have already allowed salons and beauty parlours to open with strict social distancing guidelines and wearing protective gear is a must.In containment areas the same rule may prevail in Lockdown 5.0.

The Human Resource Development Ministry of India will soon announce the guidelines of   schools reopening.

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:
https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/china-covid19

 

 

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