Elle, who hat tips the Field Negro, just sent me this really upsetting article about Samantha Orobator, a British woman who is facing possible execution by firing squad in Laos, where she has been charged with being drug trafficking after being arrested in August of last year.
Orobator's family and friends say she has no history of using or trafficking or being in any way involved with drugs—and since arriving at the prison where she is being held, Orobator has become pregnant. Anna Morris, of the London-based human rights group Reprieve, who are advocating on Orobator's behalf, says: "She became pregnant in prison. We are concerned that it may not have been consensual and we are concerned that someone who finds herself in prison at 20 is subject to exploitation." Honestly, my stomach just churns at the thought of what Orobator has been through.
At this point, Laos is saying they probably won't execute Orobator because she is pregnant, but she hasn't even been tried yet. She doesn't have a local attorney, and Morris is "the first British lawyer who has asked for access to her." Her trial has been scheduled for next week.
Despite all that, this story has received almost no attention whatsoever in the US media; USA Today, which is possibly the only US news org besides CNN and HuffPo who's addressed it at all, merely linked to the Telegraph's coverage.
Since when does a Western woman with no history of drug involvement who has nonetheless been arrested and detained as an alleged drug mule, was quite likely raped and forcibly impregnated while being held, and faces a kangaroo court trial not warrant news coverage? I dare anyone to tell me it has nothing to do with the fact that Samantha Orobator is black.
The best thing we can do is make it known that we're paying attention to what happens to her. The more international pressure, the better chance she has of getting a fair trial. I think there are a couple ways we can go about this. First and foremost, if you've got a blog, blog this story. If you don't (or even if you do), Digg and Reddit and StumbleUpon this post, or send the URL to this post or the CNN story or whatever to other news organizations and ask them to cover it.
Normally, this is where I would provide contact information for the Lao Embassy in Washington and the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but, given the legal culture in Laos, I'm not sure if directly urging a fair trial wouldn't actually hurt Orobator's case more than help. If anyone who's more familiar with Lao culture has thoughts on that, please let me know in comments.
In the meantime, just get the word out however you can. Indirect pressure via international attention is definitely a good idea.