Where is Sombath? ສົມບັດຢູ່ໃສ?

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Sombath SomphoneSombath Somphone was last seen in Vientiane on the evening of Saturday, 15 December 2012 when he was driving home in his jeep.

Two days later, CCTV footage became available that showed Sombath being stopped by police and then abducted. The video can be seen here.

Sombath is a friend, colleague and a visionary who has spent his life working for his people and country. This website hopes to facilitate his return to his family and work.

ມີຄົນພົບເຫັນ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ຄັ້ງສຸດທ້າຍໃນ ນະຄອນຫລວງວຽງຈັນ ໃນຕອນແລງ ຂອງວັນເສົາ ທີ 15 ທັນວາ 2012 ເມື່ອລາວ ກຳລັງຂັບລົດຈິດຂອງລາວກັບບ້ານ.

ສອງມື້ຕໍ່ມາ ໄດ້ມີພາບຖ່າຍວິດີໂອກ້ອງວົງຈອນປິດຈາລະຈອນ ໄດ້ສະແດງໃຫ້ເຫັນວ່າ ສົມບັດ ກຳລັງຖືກຢຸດກວດໂດຍຕຳຫລວດ ແລະ ຫລັງຈາກນັ້ນກໍ່ຖືກລັກພາຕົວໄປພາບຖ່າຍ ວິດີໂອດັ່ງກ່າວ ສາມາດຊົມໄດ້ທີ່ນີ້.

ສົມບັດເປັນໝູ່, ເປັນເພື່ອນຮ່ວມງານ ແລະ ເປັນຜູ້ທີ່ມີວິໃສທັດ ຊຶ່ງລາວໄດ້ໃຊ້ຊີວິດເຮັດວຽກ ເພື່ອປະຊາຊົນ ແລະ ປະເທດຊາດ. ເວບໄຊ້ນີ້ຫວັງວ່າຈະຊ່ວຍເອື້ອຍອຳນວຍໃຫ້ລາວກັບມາ ຫາຄອບຄົວ ແລະ ວຽກງານຂອງລາວ.

Laos stands out…

Sombath-magsaysay-smallLaos stands out in contrast to neighbours like Myanmar, which despite its long-time rule by the military managed to develop an independent civil society, according to John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director of the Washington-based Human Rights Watch.

“If a human rights defender like Aung Sang Suu Kyi were to stand up in Laos and speak out against authoritarian rule, she would be immediately arrested. And unlike Aung Sang Suu Kyi, having the luxury of living under house arrest, you would just be taken off to prison and never seen again,” he said.

“Laos NGO restrictions threaten development, say non-profit groups,” South China Morning Post, 17 September 2014

Disappeared in Laos

Overland Journal: Spring 2014

The arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.

– Article 2, The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

The last time Ng Shui Meng saw her husband, Sombath Somphone, alive was early in the evening of Saturday, 15 December 2012.

Sombath was driving his old jeep home. Shui Meng, who was travelling in her own vehicle in front of his, noticed him being stopped at a police post on Thadeua Road, a main thoroughfare in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Having your car stopped by the police is not uncommon in Laos. Usually it involves a simple identification check. Sometimes, police attempt to shake down drivers for a small bribe to supplement their meagre wages. As such, Shui Meng thought nothing of it and drove on home, expecting Sombath to join her later.

When her husband didn’t arrive for dinner she began to worry. She searched the vicinity of the police post where he was last seen and also visited Vientiane’s hospitals on the assumption he might have had an accident. She called his phone but was diverted to his message bank.

A fluent Lao speaker, Shui Meng reported Sombath missing to police the next day. She and Sombath’s family also rechecked the city’s hospitals and retraced the previous night’s events along Thadeua Road. It was then they noticed the Chinese-funded CCTV cameras mounted at various points along the road, one of which overlooked the police post where Sombath was last seen. Continue reading

Materially Rich and Spiritually Poor…

Let’s look at our model of development as it exists today. The development model that is widely practiced today is not very sustainable. So many things do not fit, thus so many “failures” just like in our “schooling”. For example, the world is so rich and yet there is widespread poverty. Unprecedented advances have been made in agriculture and aquaculture, yet more people go to bed hungry each day than ever before. Some nations have become so powerful, but the world has become ever more insecure. One can be so rich in materials but yet so poor emotionally and spiritually. And the list goes on.Bust

Sombath, in “The Interdependencies Between Education and Sustainable Development,” presented at the 10th Asia-Pacific Programme of Educational Innovation for Development (APEID) in Bangkok, Thailand, December, 2008

Dear Sombath…from Mhe-Ann Burgos

Dear Sombath,

Greetings of peace!

I share the same endeavor as your wife. My husband [Jonas Burgos] was taken away from me, too. He was abducted by the military last 2007. We are nearing the eighth year of his disappearance. It is difficult, yes, but my family and I will never stop until we have found him, you, and all the other disappeared. Yes, even if it happens that we may have already found my husband, we will continue to search for the others. It is because we know how hard it is for the families and friends left behind by the disappeared. We want this all to end. Nobody must be disappeared again.

Shui Meng and I write each other whenever we can. We need each other as well as all the other relatives of the other disappeared. We support and comfort one another so we can continue on strong with the search. I know you would be very proud of your wife because she never stops searching and fighting for you, to get you back. And I know my husband is just as proud of me, too, for doing the same.

When we remembered the International Day of the Disappeared last Aug. 31, I had a butterfly land on me when we were about to start the march. I whispered a message to it for my husband…In our country, we have this belief that butterflies may carry messages for people in some special way. I will send you a butterfly, Sombath. Keep strong and keep the faith. God is with all of us always!

My prayers and support, Mhe-Ann

Education is too Important…

sombath_fishing_skillsEducation is too important to be left only in the hands of teachers and bureaucrats at the Ministry of Education. Educators and teachers need to work hand-in-hand with parents, the community, the private sector, and most especially, children themselves to transform the business of education.

Education has to become more participatory, experiential and stimulating. It has to be more fun. Both the process and content of education have to unleash the potential of every child to solve life problems. Education should be able to integrate information and knowledge into a coherent whole.

Sombath, in “Experiential Learning in Lao Rice Fields,” SangSaeng, Summer, 2008.

ລຳດັບເຫດການຂອງຄວາມບໍ່ເອົາໃຈໃສ່

Question Markຜ່ານ​ໄປ​ແລ້ວ​ກວ່າ 600 ມື້ທີ່​ສົມບັດ​ຖືກ​​ເອົາ​ຕົວ​ໄປ ຈົນ​ມາ​ຮອດ​ປັດຈຸບັນ ຍັງ​ບໍ່​ມີຜົນ​ທີ່​ຈະ​ແຈ້ງຈາກ​ການ​ສຶບສວນ​ສອບ​ສວນ​ຂອງ​ເຈົ້າ​ໜ້າ​ທີ່.

​​ເກືອບ​ວ່າ​ທັນທີ​ທັນ​ໃດ ທີ່​ເຈົ້າ​ໜ້າ​ທີ່​ໄດ້​ສະຫຼຸບ​ວ່າພວກ​ເຂົາ​ບໍ່​ມີ​ສ່ວນ​ຮັບ​ຜິດ​ຊອບຕໍ່​ເລື່ອງ​ດັ່ງກ່າວ.

ນັບ​ຕັ້ງ​ແຕ່​ຕອນ​ນັ້ນ, ມີ​ການ​ລາຍ​ງານ​ຫຼາຍ​ສະບັບ​ທີ່​ມີ​ຂໍ້​ມູນ​ຈຳນວນ​ຫຼາຍ​ທີ່​ມີ​ລາຍ​ລະອຽດ​ກ່ຽວຂ້ອງ​, ການ​ປະ​ຕິ​ເສດ, ​ແລະ ອ້າງ​ວ່າ​ໄດ້​ຕັ້ງໜ້າ​ສືບ​ຕໍ່​ຢ່າງ​ຮີບ​ດ່ວນ ​ແລະ ​ເອົາ​ຈິງ​ເອົາ​ຈັງ.

ຮ່າງ​ເຫດການ ສຳຄັນໆ ທີ່​ເກີດ​ຂື້ນ​ຈົນ​ເຖິງ​ປັດຈຸບັນ​ນີ້ສາມາດ​ເບິ່ງ​ໄດ້​ຢູ່​ບ່ອນ​ນີ້. ຂໍ້​ມູນ​ອັບ​​ເດດ​ຈະ​ຖືກ​​ໂພສຂື້ນ​ຖ້າ​ຫາກ​ວ່າ​ມີ.

ໝູ່​ເພື່ອນ​, ​ເພື່ອນ​ຮ່ວມ​ງານ, ​ແລະ​ ອົງ​ກອນ​ຕ່າງໆ​ ຈາກ​ທົ່ວ​ໂລກທີ່​ມີ​ຄວາມ​ເປັນ​ຫ່ວງ​ເປັນ​ໄຍ​ໄດ້​ສືບ​ຕໍ່​ມີ​ຄວາມ​ຫວັງ​ວ່າ​ຈະ​ມີຜົນ​ຄວາມ​ຄືບ​ໜ້າ ​ແລະ ບໍ່​ເຍິ່ນ​ເຍີ້.