Sombath 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.
I think of you every time I chop onions. This is the way it has always been. The association between you and onions reckons back to the countless weekend evenings spent preparing meals in our kitchen in Vientiane. The task of chopping onions was yours by default because the pungency of the onion juice never bothered you like it did the rest of us. You did this task cheerfully just as you approach every other task that I have seen you undertake. So it is that when I chop onions, as my eyes burn and tears stream down my face, I cannot help but whisper under my breath, “Sombath, where are you?” Of course, that question is so much more poignant now when there is such deep and disturbing uncertainty about your whereabouts. Continue reading
The Oregonian: 16 April 2014
In this Sept. 16, 2005 photo given to Associated Press by Sombath Somphone family, Lao leading civil rights activist Sombath Somphone, right, with his wife Shui-Meng poses for a photograph during their holiday trip in Bali, Indonesia. (Courtesy of the family of Sombath Somphone)
By Mike Francis
It’s been 16 months, and Ng Shui-Meng wants to make sure the world remembers that her husband was taken off a public street in Laos and hasn’t been seen since.
Sombath Somphone was a lifelong activist for the poor and disenfranchised of Laos. He worked throughout his adult life on their behalf, advocating for their education, empowerment and happiness. (See his part in the “Happy Laos” video below.)
He was, his wife says, resolutely apolitical. He sought to build consensus, acting as a bridge between the governed of Laos and their governors. On his last major project before he was the victim of what Amnesty International calls an “enforced disappearance,” he co-chaired a key committee for the Asia-Europe Peoples’ Forum with Laos’ minister of foreign affairs.
Yet he evidently troubled some people. Continue reading
The enforced disappearances of Sombath Somphone, Jonas Burgos and Somchai and dozens of Southeast Asian activists highlight ASEAN’s insincerity in protecting the human rights of its peoples. Its failure to meaningfully respond to these cases is immoral and unjust, especially to the families of the victims. For the nth time, we strongly urge ASEAN to instruct its representatives in the regional human rights body, AICHR, to investigate these cases and formulate recommendations that will punish the perpetrators and eliminate cases of enforced disappearances. The true test of the legitimacy of AICHR and ASEAN’s commitment to human rights is when they finally act on these cases and help in the elimination of rights abuses in the region.
From Solidarity for Asian Peoples’ Advocacy (SAPA) statement made at Asian People’s Forum in Yangon. 24 March 2014
I’ve just completed a trip to southern Lao PDR with my 13 year old twin daughters Rachel and Carly. I wanted to show my girls the country, and the people that have made such a lasting impression on me both personally and professionally. I had hoped to see you.
Its already been 17 odd years since I first arrived to Vientiane to work with CUSO on development issues in Lao. I remember, with absolute clarity, the first week in my role as country representive to CUSO Lao PDR. With Charlie Pahlman as my mentor, I was provided with an extensive overview of the organizations and individuals who would become the network I came to rely on in our work to make a difference in Lao.
I met you that first week in the whirlwind of meetings. We drove around the dust covered streets in that yellow volkswagon bug. Charlie was driving somewhat erratically, as he always liked to make effusive points using both hands! So many passionate people, both from Lao and around the world, many who would contribute to and influence my work in Lao. It was a fabulous time, united in the belief that we were making a difference through the work we undertook together.
“This culture of impunity must be stopped and I’m saying this on behalf of the hundreds of others who have suffered a similar fate.”
Angkhana Neelapaijit, speaking at the FCCT on 04 March 2014 about the enforced disappearance of her spouse, Somchai Neelapaijit.
“Angkhana still waiting for justice” Bangkok Post, 06 March 2014
Dear Uncle Sombath,
I think of you often and I feel like talking to you. But it’s not easy for me to really start writing to you. I don’t know where you are and I guess our postman will have difficulty getting this letter to your hands. But I am sure this letter will be safe in many hands of friendship and faith.
Your name came to my life since 10 years ago through many of my senior friends. I don’t really know who you are but I learn a lot from my senior friends, who learned a lot from you.
Since December 15, 2012, I got involved in youth active participation to raise awareness of forced disappearance situation and its impact. You are not just someone in another country, you have already become a friend, even we don’t know each other in person.
People may think I am so good for taking action to ensure you will never be forgotten. Actually, I am not giving anything. I gain more than I gave.
Interview with Ng Shui Meng by Keith Barney at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, on 05 March 2014.