Where is Sombath? ສົມບັດຢູ່ໃສ?


Sombath SomphoneSombath Somphone is a friend, colleague and visionary who has spent his life working for his people and country.

He was last seen on the evening 15 December 2012, while driving home in his jeep.

CCTV footage shows Sombath being stopped by police and then taken away.

While authorities continue to deny responsibility, Sombath’s abduction is widely acknowledged to be an enforced disappearance.

This website hopes to facilitate justice for Sombath and his family, and bring voice to his ideas and ideals.

Sombath on Civil Society in Laos

Civil society does exist in Laos, but in a rather different form. The West tends to see it more legalistically, and we tend to see it more socially. Instead of having a legal contract, we tend to have a social contract where we help each other.

Of course, now we are at the stage where there is the push for legal recognition of the social contract, and I think the most important thing is if people are well-informed; they can voice their opinion. That is the key, how you call it doesn’t matter.

Remarks by Sombath at a panel discussion held at the FCCT in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 November 2008.

AEPF Participants call on ASEM

119 participants at the 10th Asia-Europe People’s forum signed a petition to the ASEM heads of states and government:

aepf10logoEnforced disappearance is never an internal matter in any country.  It is a contravention of international law and widely held to be a crime against humanity. Sombath’s family and friends and the people of Laos have the right to the truth, to know what happened to Sombath. Sombath and his family have the right to justice.

We remind all ASEM member states of their human rights obligations, both domestically and internationally. We sincerely demand that the Lao Government to complete their invesrigation on Sombath’s disappearance, make public the investigation report, and take forward legal process against the perpetrators of the crime.  We urge ASEM member states to monitor the fulfilment of these demands and ensure that Sombath and his family receive the justice that is surely their right.

The full statement and list of signatories can be seen here.

EU Must Keep Human Rights at the Centre of the Regions’ Partnership At Asia – Europe Meeting

asem_logoMarking the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) currently underway, Amnesty International has issued a call on the European Union and its member states “to ensure that human rights remain at the centre of all bilateral and multilateral dialogue between Asia and the EU.”

The statement reads, in part:

This 10th ASEM marks almost two years since the disappearance of Sombath Somphone in Laos on 15 December 2012, shortly after organising a civil society event on development around the ASEM, work that may have made him a target of enforced disappearance. Amnesty_InternationalAmnesty International urges EU leaders to use the opportunity at the ASEM to call for his safe return. Leaders at the ASEM should also work to ensure all present ratify and implement the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

The full statement can be seen here.

Recommendations to the ASEM summit

Transnational Institute: 16 October 2014

Hilde van der Pas

aepf10logoOne week before the official Asia-Europe government meeting (ASEM) gathers in Milan, over 400 people from 42 countries in Europe and Asia gathered at the 10th Asia-Europe Peoples forum (AEPF) to present their demands and recommendations.

More than 400 people, representing social movements, organisations and citizens from 42 countries, met from October 10– 12 2014 to discuss five thematic areas that concern citizens across Europe and Asia. As an outcome of the forum,that takes place every two years in Asia or Europe, recommendations will be presented to the governments at the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) on climate change, trade and investment policies, social protection, food sovereignty, migration, peace and security.

The forum started with a keynote speech from Shui Meng Ng, whose husband Sombath Somphone was abducted two years ago, shortly after he participated in the AEPF9 in Laos, as co-chair of the National Organizing Committee. Sombath was last seen when he was stopped by a police car and taken away, on September 15th 2012.

“Sombath was optimistic that many of the challenges and crises in Laos, as well as in Asia and Europe, could be tackled through open and frank dialogue and concrete actions between ordinary citizens in partnership with civil society groups and the government. “said Shui Meng Ng.

Paul Emile Dupret, member of the GUE group in the European Parliament, who went to Laos after Sombath’s disappearance on a mission with the EP, talked about the difficult environment they faced when talking to the Lao government and stated that the European left party rejects “….fake socialism – promoting landgrabbing and corruption”.

Malaysian MEP Charles Santiago put on a Sombath t-shirt to express his solidarity on behalf of all ASEAN parliamentarians. “Don’t tell us we have no business making you accountable,” he said. Continue reading

Final Declaration of AEPF10

p6aepf10logoThe final declaration of the 10th Asia-Europe People’s Forum, held in Milan, Italy on the 10th to 12th of October, has been released. Below is an except about Sombath. The full statement can be read here, or on the website of the Transnational Institute.

On December 15 2014, it will be two years since the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone. Sombath was one of the main organisers of AEPF9 held in Vientiane just before ASEM10. Sombath, a Magsaysay Award winner, is one of the most respected people in ASEAN working for sustainable development. Sombath’s abduction on December 12, 2012 was captured by a CCTV camera. The footage shows that his jeep was stopped in front of a police booth. After he voluntarily went to the booth, a third person came and drove the jeep away. He was seen next being taken away in a pickup truck. Since then, the Lao Government has provided no meaningful information to Sombath’s family, friends and the public about his abduction and continuing disappearance. Instead, successive statements and actions by the Lao Government indicate a continuing denial of its basic responsibility and obligations.

The Lao PDR depends heavily on international aid and in the lead up to its annual Roundtable scheduled for November 2014, the Lao Government is requesting even more financial support from the international community.

Enforced disappearance is never an internal matter in any country. It is a contravention of international law and widely recognised to be a crime against humanity. Sombath’s family and friends and the people of Laos have the right to the truth, to know what happened to Sombath. Sombath and his family have the right to justice.

We remind all ASEM member states of their human rights obligations, both domestically and internationally. We sincerely demand the Lao Government to complete their investigation into Sombath’s disappearance, make public the investigation report, and take forward the legal process against the perpetrators of the crime. We urge ASEM member states to monitor the fulfilment of these demands and ensure that Sombath and his family receive the justice that is surely their right and that he is returned safely to his family.

ເວທີເອເຊັຽຢູໂຣບກ່າວເຖິງ ທ.ສົມບັດ

ວິທະຍຸເອເຊຍເສຣີ: 16 ຕຸລາ 2014

aepf10logoຖແລງການ ຂັ້ນ ສຸດທ້າຍ ຂອງ ເວທີ ກອງປະຊຸມ ພາກ ປະຊາຊົນ ເອເຊັຽ ຢູໂຣບ ຄັ້ງທີ 10 ທີ່ ມີຂຶ້ນ ເມື່ອ ວັນທີ 10 ຫາ 12 ຕຸລາ ຢູ່ ເມືອງ ມີລານ ປະເທດ ອີຕາລີ ໄດ້ເວົ້າ ເຖິງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ. ໃນ ຖແລງ ການ ນັ້ນ ມີໃຈຄວາມ ວ່າ ຈະ ຄົບຮອບ 2 ປີ ໃນ ວັນທີ 15 ທັນວາ 2014 ທີ່ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ໄດ້ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ໄປ. ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ເປັນໜຶ່ງ ໃນ ບັນດາ ຜູ້ຈັດຕັ້ງ ເວທີ ກອງປະ ຊຸມ ພາກ ປະຊາຊົນ ເອເຊັຽ ຢູໂຣບ ຄັ້ງ ທີ 9 ທີ່ ນະຄອນ ຫຼວງ ວຽງຈັນ ກ່ອນໜ້າ ເປີດ ກອງປະຊຸມ ອາແຊັມ ຄັ້ງທີ 10.

ຖແລງການ ຣະບຸວ່າ ສປປລາວ ເພິ່ງພາ ອາສັຍ ການ ຊ່ວຍເຫລືອ ນາໆຊາດ ຢ່າງ ຫລວງຫລາຍ ແລະ ກ່ອນໜ້າ ກອງປະຊຸມ ໂຕະມົນ ປະຈຳປີ ທີ່ ກຳນົດ ຈັດຂຶ້ນ ໃນ ເດືອນ ພຶສຈິກາ 2014 ນີ້ ຣັຖບານ ລາວ ກໍຂໍ ການສນັບ ສນູນ ທາງການເງິນ ຫລາຍ ເພີ່ມຂຶ້ນ ຈາກ ປະຊາຄົມ ສາກົລ. ແລະວ່າ ການບັງຄັບ ຄົນໃຫ້ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ບໍ່ເຄີຍຖື ເປັນບັນຫາ ພາຍໃນ ຂອງປະເທດ ໃດໆ ທັງນັ້ນ. ມັນຂັດກັບ ກົດໝາຍ ຣະຫວ່າງ ປະເທດ ແລະ ກໍຖືກັນ ຢ່າງ ກວ້າງຂວາງ ວ່າ ເປັນ ອາຊຍາກັມ ຕ້ານ ມວນມະນຸດ.

ທາງຄອບ ຄົວ ໝູ່ເພື່ອນ ແລະ ປະຊາຊົນ ແມ່ນ ມີສິດທິ ທີ່ ຈະຮູ້ ຄວາມຈິງ ຮູ້ວ່າມີ ຫຍັງເກີດ ຂຶ້ນກັບ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ. ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ແລະ ຄອບຄົວ ມີສິດທິ ທີ່ ຈະໄດ້ຮັບ ຄວາມ ຍຸຕິທັມ. ຖແລງການ ເວທີ ເອເຊັຽ ຢູໂຣບ ຂໍເຕືອນ ບັນດາ ປະເທດ ສະມາຊິກ ອາແຊັມ ກ່ຽວກັບ ພັນທະ ເຣື່ອງ ສິດທິມະນຸດ ທັງພາຍໃນ ແລະ ຣະຫວ່າງ ປະເທດ.

ພ້ອມດຽວກັນ ກໍຮຽກຮ້ອງ ຢ່າງຈິງໃຈ ເຖິງ ຣັຖບານ ລາວ ໃຫ້ ສືບສວນ ສອບສວນ ແລະ ຣາຍງານ ເຣື່ອງ ການ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ໃຫ້ ມວນຊົນ ຮູ້ ແລະ ດຳເນີນ ຂັ້ນຕອນ ທາງ ກົດໝາຍ ຕໍ່ຜູ້ ກໍ່ ອາຊຍາກັມ ນັ້ນ ນຳດ້ວຍ. ເວທີ ພາກ ປະຊາຊົນ ເອເຊັຽ ຢູໂຣບ ຮຽກຮ້ອງ ໃຫ້ ປະເທດ ສະມາ ຊິກ ອາແຊັມ ຕິດຕາມ ການ ປະຕິບັດ ຄຳ ຮຽກຮ້ອງ ທີ່ວ່າມາ ນັ້ນ ເພື່ອ ຮັບປະກັນ ວ່າ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ແລະ ຄອບຄົວ ໄດ້ຮັບ ຄວາມ ຍຸຕິທັມ ຊຶ່ງ ແນ່ນອນ ກໍ ເປັນສິດທິ ຂອງ ພວກ ເຂົາເຈົ້າ ແລະ ໃຫ້ ທ່ານ ກັບຄືນສູ່ ຄອບຄົວ ຢ່າງ ປອດພັຍ.

Sumbath Somphone, scomparso due anni fa nelle strade di Vientiane

il Manifesto: 15 Ottobre 2014

Luciana Castellina

Il caso del leader desaparecido. Dagli anni ’80 dava sostegno alle piccole conduzioni contadine. Sotto accusa il governo laotiano


Un poster chiede la liberazione di Sumbath Somphone © Reuters

Che l’attività dei movi­menti e delle asso­cia­zioni che fanno capo al Forum dei popoli euro­pei e asia­tici non sia indo­lore, che non si tratti di sole parole ma di una dura lotta per cam­biare e imporre una demo­cra­zia sostan­ziale, lo prova il caso dram­ma­tico di Sum­bath Som­phone, la cui imma­gine ha colo­rato le mura di tutte le sale dove si sono svolti i lavori della conferenza.

La vicenda ce la rac­conta nell’articolo che segue la moglie, Shii Meng Ng, che, con il suo discorso, ha aperto i lavori della Aepf. Sum­bath, come rac­conta, gui­dava la sua vec­chia jeep nel cen­tro di Vien­tiane, lei lo pre­ce­deva verso casa sul suo vei­colo, quando si è accorta che il marito era stato fer­mato a un posto di blocco della poli­zia. Non ci ha fatto molto caso, pen­sando ad una infra­zione stra­dale, nor­male nel cao­tico traf­fico della capi­tale lao­tiana. L’allarme è scat­tato quando non l’ha più visto arri­vare a casa e inu­tili sono state le ricer­che presso gli ospe­dali e la polizia. Continue reading

Consultation or Censorship?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised a consultation meeting on the draft National Report of the Lao PDR under the UPR [Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council] for representatives of stakeholders including social, professional, academic and non-profit organisations in Vientiane recently.

The meeting participants exchanged views and provided input on the draft report of the Lao PDR for the second cycle which has been prepared following a series of consultations among government agencies and relevant stakeholders.

Phoukhong SisoulathDirector General of the Department of Treaties and Law, Secretary General to the Lao National Steering Committee of Human Rights Mr Phoukhong Sisoulath chaired the meeting.

Mr Phoukhong stressed the importance of consultations with representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) as part of meaningful participation in the UPR process…

Vientiane Times, “PDR Prepares for Regular Rights Review,” 11 October 2014

APHR understands that the United Nations Resident Coordinator of the Lao PDR was asked to remove any mention of Sombath’s disappearance from its Universal Periodic Review Submission. The UN Resident Coordinator did not acquiesce to the government’s request.

Non-governmental workers and civil society actors are also held under a strict code of self-enforced silence, fearful of repercussions if they raise what has become one of the most sensitive issues for the Lao regime.

LOGO_APHR“The script that the Lao authorities are reading from has become progressively tighter over the past 18 months: there appears to be a concerted effort to undermine now even the most fundamental, seemingly incontestable aspects of the investigation,” Mr. Santiago said.

“Individuals requesting honest answers to very basic questions are being treated like agitators and enemies. This is an unacceptable distortion of the reality of the situation.”

If the Lao government really wants to solve this case and is as concerned as the rest of us, then why is it blocking all possible avenues for the investigation? asked APHR.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, “Lao Government’s Deceptive Game on Sombath must End,” 23 September 2014


Keep Sombath’s Vision Alive

Keynote Speech by Shui Meng Ng at the 10th Asia-Europe People’s Forum

Milan, Italy, 10-12 October 2014

“Towards a Just and Inclusive Asia and Europe-Building States of Citizens for Citizens”

Shui Meng-AEPF10Two years ago, at the 9th AEPF, my husband, Sombath Somphone, as the Co-Chair of the National Organizing Committee, gave the keynote speech at the opening session of the Forum in Vientiane, Laos.  He was at the time both happy and excited that after months of intensive preparation, the AEPF9 was officially declared open by no less than Laos’ Deputy Prime Minister.  More than 1,000 people representing civil society groups and organizations from across Asia and Europe participated.  As a Lao, Sombath was proud that his country could play host to such a major civil society forum.

Over the next few days between October 16-19, the forum participants passionately discussed, debated, shared, and exchanged lessons on common challenges and issues of poverty, social polarization, inequalities, indebtedness, and unemployment faced by ordinary folks in the countries of Asia and Europe.  The energy level was high, and the panel discussions were animated, inclusive, and constructive.  The participants eagerly presented their ideas and experiences, and worked hard to present the “People’s Vision” of shared hopes and aspirations which became incorporated as the final statement from the AEPF9 to the leaders of the ASEM countries for their deliberation and consideration for action in the follow-up ASEM Meeting.

aepf10logoBy all estimation, and publicly acknowledged by the International Organizing Committee, the AEPF9 was considered one of the most successful People’s Forum ever.  Then on 15 December 2012, two months after the close of AEPF9, Sombath Somphone was disappeared.  He was last seen stopped at a police post in Vientiane and taken away by a white truck. The entire sequence of Sombath’s abduction was recorded by the state-installed traffic-control camera, and the footages of the abduction have since been shared on You-tube. Continue reading


ບົດກ່າວຂອງ ທ່ານນາງ ອຶ້ງ ຊຸຍມິງ ທີ່ກອງປະຊຸມອາຊີເອີຣົບຄັ້ງທີ 10 (10th Asia-Europe People’s Forum)

ເມືອງມິລານ, ປະເທດອີຕາລີ, ລະຫວ່າງວັນທີ 10-12 ຕຸລາ 2014

“ເພື່ອກ້າວໄປສູ່ການ​ເປັນອາຊີ ແລະ ເອີຣົບທີ່ມີຄວາມຍຸດຕິທຳ ແລະ ມີການມີສ່ວນຮ່ວມ ຂອງ​ປະຊາຊົນ​ເພື່ອ​ປະຊາ​ຊົນ”

Shui Meng-AEPF10ສອງປີກ່ອນນີ້ ທີ່ກອງປະຊຸມ ພາກ ປະຊາສັງຄົມ (AEPF) ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນຜູ້ເປັນສາມີຂອງຂ້າພະເຈົ້າ ໄດ້ເຮັດໜ້າທີ່ເປັນໜຶ່ງໃນຄະນະຜູ້ຈັດ ກອງປະຊຸມລະດັບຊາດ ລາວໄດ້ຮັບ ກຽດຂື້ນກ່າວໃນພິທີເປີດຂອງ ກອງປະຊຸມດັ່ງກ່າວໃນນະຄອນຫຼວງ ວຽງຈັນ, ປະເທດລາວ. ຕອນນັ້ນ ລາວທັງຮູ້ສຶກດີໃຈ ແລະ ຕື່ນເຕັ້ນ ລາວໃຊ້ເວລາຫຼາຍເດືອນເພື່ອ ກະກຽມດ້ວຍຄວາມເຄັ່ງຄຽດເຄັ່ງຕິງ. ກອງປະຊຸມດັ່ງກ່າວໄຂຂື້ນໂດຍ ແມ່ນທ່ານຮອງນາຍຍົກລັດຖະມົນຕີເປັນຜູ້ກ່າວເປີດ. ຄັ້ງນັ້ນມີຜູ້ເຂົ້າຮ່ວມຈຳນວນບໍ່ຕຳ່ກວ່າ 1,000 ຄົນ ທີ່ເປັນທັງຕົວແທນຂອງກຸ່ມພາກປະຊາສັງຄົມ ແລະ ອົງກອນຕ່າງໆທົ່ວພາກພື້ນອາຊີ ແລະ ເອີຣົບ. ໃນຖານະ ເປັນຄົນລາວ ສົມບັດຮູ້ສຶກພາກພູມໃຈທີ່ປະ ເທດຂອງຕົນເອງສາມາດຫຼີ້ນບົດບາດເປັນເຈົ້າພາບກອງປະຊຸມ ພາກປະຊາສັງຄົມທີ່ຍິ່ງໃຫຍ່ດັ່ງກ່າວ.

ຫຼັງຈາກນັ້ນໃນໄລຍະວັນທີ 16-19 ຕຸລາ ໃນກອງປະຊຸມເຕັມໄປດ້ວຍຄວາມຂຸ້ນຂ້ຽວໃນການສົນທະນາ, ການໂຕ້ວາທີ, ການແບ່ງປັນ, ແລະ ແລກປ່ຽນບົດຮຽນເລື່ອງຄວາມທ້າທາຍ ແລະ ປະເດັນທົ່ວໄປກ່ຽວກັບ ຄວາມທຸກຍາກ, ບັນຫາສັງຄົມ, ຄວາມບໍ່ເທົ່າທຽມກັນ, ໜີ້ສິນ, ແລະ ໄພວ່າງງານ ທີ່ປະຊາຊົນທົ່ວໄປໃນປະເທດ ທັງໃນອາຊີ ແລະ ເອີຮົບໄດ້ພົບພໍ້. ກອງປະຊຸມມີບັນຍາກາດຟົດຟື້ນມີຊີວິດຊີວາ ແລະ ສ້າງສັນ ຜູ້ເຂົ້າຮ່ວມຕ່າງຫ້າວ ຫັນສະແດງຄວາມຄິດເຫັນ ແລະ ປະສົບການຂອງຕົນ ແລະ ເຮັດວຽກໜັກເພື່ອນຳສະເໜີອອກມາເປັນ “ວິໄສທັດຂອງປະຊາຊົນ” ເຊິ່ງເປັນທັງການແບ່ງປັນຄວາມຫວັງ ແລະ ແຮງບັນດານໃຈ ໃນຕອນທ້າຍໄດ້ຖືກນຳໄປ ຮຽບຮຽງເປັນຖະແຫຼງການຂອງກອງປະຊຸມ AEPF9 ສຳລັບນຳສະເໜີໃຫ້ກອງປະຊຸມຜູ້ນຳລະດັບສູງຂອງ ປະເທດຕ່າງໆ ໃນກອງປະຊຸມ ASEM ເພື່ອວິເຄາະ ແລະ ພິຈາລະນາການນຳໄປຈັດຕັ້ງປະຕິບັດໃນຕໍ່ໜ້າ.

aepf10logoຄະນະຈັດງານລະດັບສາກົນຍອມຮັບວ່າ ກອງປະຊຸມ AEPF9 ເປັນໜຶ່ງໃນບັນດາກອງປະຊຸມພາກປະຊາຊົນ ທີ່ໄດ້ຮັບຜົນ ສຳເລັດທີ່ສຸດເທົ່າທີ່ເຄີຍມີມາ. ຫຼັງຈາກກອງປະຊຸມໄດ້ປິດລົງ ຜ່ານໄປສອງເດືອນ ວັນທີ 15 ທັນວາ 2012 ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນໄດ້ ຫາຍຕົວໄປ. ລາວຖືກພົບເຫັນຄັ້ງສຸດທ້າຍຢູ່ທີ່ປ້ອມຕຳຫຼວດ ໃນນະຄອນຫຼວງວຽງຈັນ ໂດຍລາວຖືກ ຕຳຫຼວດເອີ້ນໃຫ້ຢຸດລົດ ແລະ ຖືກເອົາຕົວໄປໂດຍລົດກະບະຂາວຄັນໜຶ່ງ ເຫດການທັງໝົດທີ່ເກີດ ຂື້ນແມ່ນຖືກບັນທຶກໄວ້ໃນກ້ອງ ວົງຈອນປິດຂອງນະຄອນຫຼວງ ແລະໄດ້ມີການນຳໄປເຜີຍແຜ່ ເທິງອິນເຕີເນັດ (Youtube). Continue reading