Sombath did many things differently

SB-Magsaysay-08Sombath is quite a special man, he looks at the potential of how to share ideas, concepts.  He never says “this is my idea,” but “I saw this thing is useful for society–what is your idea?”

He is open, just stimulates thinking.  I was in media, a creative person, but in my mind I never thought of the social aspects, just broadcasting. But Sombath thought of alternative media for the country.

He is a creative person, Like sang san (ສ້າງສັນ) in the Lao language, it means creation, or to seek. He is thinking more rapidly, ahead of many people. Something like dreaming, but not only a dream, but doing real things. He is an open person. In meetings he never stops anyone from saying things.  He records and then shows this is your idea not mine.
Sombath did many things differently.

Draft translation from interviews done with many of Sombath’s colleagues. Original Lao transcripts currently unavailable.

Sombath Initiative calls for increased pressure during Australia-Lao human rights dialogue

Logo-Sombath InitiativeThe Sombath Initiative has issued a letter to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop calling for increased pressure on the Lao government to more seriously address the disappearance of Sombath Somphone and related issues during this week’s Australia-Lao human rights dialogue.

Publicly launched in December, 2014, The Sombath Initiative seeks to resolve the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone, and to carry forward his ideas and ideals. Lee Rhiannon, the Senator for New South Wales, serves on its Advisory Board.

The letter urges the dialogue be used to raise questions for which there have yet to be satisfactory responses. These include why there have been no updates on the investigation into Sombath’s disappearance for over 18 months, even though Lao authorities insist they are actively pursuing the case.

During the recent United Nations Universal Periodic Review for Laos in Geneva, Australia called on Laos to “Conduct an urgent and credible police investigation into Mr Sombath’s disappearance and communicate the findings, including to address any suspicions of government involvement in his abduction.”

The letter also asks why the Lao government, which aggressively solicits international aid, including significant contributions from Australia, is steadfastly refusing assistance for this investigation.

The full letter is available here.

Australia: Press Laos to Respect Rights

Human Rights Watch: (02 March 2015)

Respond on Sombath Somphone; Set Strong Benchmarks for Reform in Dialogue

sombath-somphone

Sombath Somphone, a social activist, was last seen in Vientiane, the capital, in December 2012. There is strong evidence that he was forcibly disappeared by Laotian authorities. © 2013 Stephen Sautter

(Sydney) – Australia should use its upcoming human rights dialogue with Laos to raise human rights concerns and set concrete benchmarks for reform, Human Rights Watch said today. The dialogue, scheduled to be held in Canberra on March 5, 2015, is a crucial opportunity to push the government of Laos to take real action on rights ahead of Laos chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2016.

In a submission to the Australian government, Human Rights Watch urged officials to raise concerns with their Lao counterparts about the enforced disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone, increased restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, violations of labor rights, and abusive drug detention centers.

“Australia should make sure that this human rights dialogue doesn’t become just an exercise in empty rhetoric,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director. “It’s an opportunity to really press the Lao government on sensitive issues and demand meaningful outcomes.” Elaine Pearson, Australia director

This is the fourth such dialogue with Laos, and the first one to be held in Australia. Australia committed funding from 2012 to 2015 to support the Lao government’s human rights activities. The Australian government should review all assistance in funding, programming, and activities in Laos to ensure that it is not contributing to policies and programs that violate human rights. Continue reading

800 Days Missing: Global human rights group asks Laos to step up probe on Sombath disappearance

InterAksyon: 24 February 2015

Sombath-012

MANILA – An international human rights group on Monday asked the Laos government to hasten its investigation into the enforced disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who has been missing since 2012.

Sombath was a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for community development. The award is Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize.

In its website, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said the Laos government must turn words into action and step up the investigation into the enforced disappearance of Somphone.

“The Laos government must also publicly disclose the findings,” FIDH and its member organization, the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR), said on Monday.

The two organizations made the call to mark 800 days since Sombath’s disappearance on the evening of 15 December 2012 in Vientiane, FIDH said.

The group said that at the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Laos, held in Geneva on January 20, 2015, government representative Phongsavath Boupha said that authorities were “still thoroughly conducting” an investigation into Sombath’s disappearance.

“Phongsavath also declared that the investigation committee was “ready to receive suggestions from any interested parties with regard to the ongoing investigation,” FIDH said.

Despite the Lao government’s claim of an ongoing investigation, Vientiane has failed to provide any update on the probe since June 2013, the group said.

“For too long, Vientiane has dragged its feet on Sombath’s disappearance. It’s time for the Lao government to fulfill its international obligations and implement the UPR recommendations concerning enforced disappearances,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.“The government must also keep its word and accept international technical assistance in the investigation.” Continue reading

ສຳພາດຍານາງວະນິດາ ເທພສຸວັນ

ວິທະຍຸເອເຊຍເສຣີ:  24 ກຸມພາ 2015

LMHR-Logoສະຫະພັນ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ນາໆ ຊາດ (FIDH) ແລະ ສະມາຊິກ ຂະບວນການ ລາວ ເພື່ອ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ (ຂລສມ) ອອກ ຖແລງ ການ ຮຽກຮ້ອງ ໃຫ້ ຣັຖບານ ລາວ ເພີ້ມການ ສືບຫາ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ນັກ ພັທນາ ຊຸມຊົນ ດີເດັ່ນ ທີ່ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ເປັນ ເວລາ 800 ວັນ ແລ້ວ ຈົນຮອດ ທຸກ ມື້ນີ້ ກໍຍັງ ບໍ່ໄດ້ ຄໍາຕອບ ຫຍັງຈາກ ທາງການ ລາວ ເລີຍ ສົມເນ ໄດ້ນໍາ ເອົາ ການ ສັມພາດ ຍານາງ ວະນິດາ ເທພສຸວັນ ປະທານ ຂະບວນ ການ ລາວ ເພື່ອ ສິດທິມະນຸດ ທີ່ ມີ ສໍານັກງານ ຢູ່ ນະຄອນ ຫລວງ ປາຣີ ປະເທດ ຝຣັ່ງ ມາ ສເນີ ທ່ານ. ຟັງເນື້ອເຣື້ອງ

ສປປ ລາວ: ຜູ້ນຳ ພັທນາ ປະຊາ ສັງຄົມ, ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ, ຫາຍ ສາບສູນ ເປັນ ເວລາ 800 ວັນ ແລ້ວ

ສະຫະພັນ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ນາໆ ຊາດ (FIDH) ແລະ ຂະບວນການ ລາວ ເພື່ອ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ (ຂລສມ): (23 ກຸມພາ 2015)

FIDH-Logoລັຖະບານ ສປປ ລາວ ຄວນ ຜ່ານ ຈາກ ຄໍາເວົ້າ ໄປ ຫາ ການກະທຳ ແລ້ວ ເພີ້ມ ທະວີ ສືບສວນ ກ່ຽວກັບ ການ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ໂດຍ ຖືກ ບັງຄັບ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ແລະ ເປີດເຜີຍ ເປັນ ທາງການ ຕໍ່ ປວ່ງຊົນ ເຖີງ ຜົນ ຂອງ ການ ສືບສວນ. ນີ້ ຄື ຄຳ ຖແລງ ຂອງ ສະຫະພັນ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ນາໆ ຊາດ (FIDH) ແລະ ຂະບວນການ ລາວ ເພື່ອ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ (ຂລສມ). ທັງສອງ ອົງການ ທໍາການ ຣຽກຣອ້ງ ດັ່ງກ່າວ ເນື່ອງໃນ ໂອກາດ ຄົບຣອບ 800 ວັນ ຂອງ ການ ຫາຍ ສາບສູນ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ເມື່ອ ວັນທີ 15 ທັນວາ 2012 ທີ່ ນະຄອນຫລວງ ວຽງຈັນ.

LMHR-Logoຢູ່ ກອງປະຊູມ ກວດກາ ເຖີງ ສະຖານະພາບ ດ້ານ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ໃນ ສປປ ລາວ ຄັ້ງ ວັນທີ 20 ມົກກະລາ 2015 ທີ່ ເມືອງ ເຊີແນວ, ທ່ານ ພົງສະວັດ ບຸຜາ ຜູ້ ຕາງໜ້າ ຂອງ ລັຖະບານ ສປປ ລາວ ໄດ້ ກ່າວ ວ່າ ທາງ ເຈົ້າໜ້າທີ່ ຍັງ ສືບຕໍ່ ການ ສືບສວນ ກ່ຽວກັບ ກໍຣະນີ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ຢູ່ ແລະ ແຈ້ງ ວ່າ ຄະນະ “ພອ້ມ ແລ້ວ ທີ່ຈະ ຣັບ ຄຳ ແນາະນຳ ຈາກ ທຸກໆ ຝ່າຍ ທີ່ ກ່ຽວຂອ້ງ ແລະ ສົນໃຈ ນຳ ການ ສືບສວນ ນີ້.” ເຖີງ ແມ່ນວ່າ ໃດ້ ກ່າວ ຄໍານີ້ ໄປ ກໍ່ຕາມ, ເປັນທີ່ ສັງເກດ ເຫັນໄດ້ ຢ່າງ ຈະແຈ້ງ ວ່າ ທາງການ ວຽງຈັນ ບໍ່ ສາມາດ ນຳ ຂໍ້ມູນ ໃຫ້ໃດ້ ນັບແຕ່ ວັນທີ 7 ມົກກະລາ 2013 ເປັນ ຕົ້ນມາ.

“ເປັນ ເວລາ ດົນນານ ເກີນຄວນ ແລ້ວ ທີ່ ທາງການ ວຽງຈັນ ໄດ້ ຊັກຊ້າ ທ່ວງ ເວລາ ໃນ ກໍຣະນີ ຫາຍ ສາບສູນ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ. ມາ ບັດນີ້ ເຖີງ ແກ່ ເວລາ ແລ້ວ ທີ່ ລັຖະບານ ສປປ ລາວ ຈະ ຕອ້ງ ນັບຖື ຂໍ້ ເງື່ອນໄຂ ຂອງ ສົນທິ ສັນຍາ ນາໆ ຊາດ ແລະ ຈະ ຕອ້ງ ປະຕິບັດ ຕາມ ຂໍ້ ສເນີ ຂອງ ກອງ ປະຊູມ ກວດກາ ແຫ່ງ ອົງການ ສະຫະປະຊາຊາດ ວ່າ ດວ້ຍ ການ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ໂດຍ ຖືກ ບັງຄັບ” ທ່ານ ກາຣີມ ລາຣິດຊີ, ປະທານ ຂອງ ສະຫະພັນ ສິດິ ມະນຸດ ນາໆ ຊາດ (FIDH) ໄດ້ກ່າວ. Continue reading

Laos: Civil society leader Sombath Somphone missing for 800 days

International Federation for Human Rights and Lao Movement for Human Rights: 23 February 2015

Joint press release

FIDH-LogoThe Lao government must turn words into action and step up the investigation into the enforced disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone and publicly disclose the findings, FIDH and it member organization, the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR), said today. The two organizations made the call to mark 800 days since Sombath’s disappearance on the evening of 15 December 2012 in Vientiane.

LMHR-LogoAt the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Laos, held in Geneva on 20 January 2015, Lao government representative Phongsavath Boupha said that authorities were “still thoroughly conducting” an investigation into Sombath’s disappearance. Phongsavath also declared that the investigation committee was “ready to receive suggestions from any interested parties with regard to the ongoing investigation.” Despite the Lao government’s claim of an ongoing investigation, Vientiane has failed to provide any update on the probe since 7 June 2013.

For too long, Vientiane has dragged its feet on Sombath’s disappearance. It’s time for the Lao government to fulfill its international obligations and implement the UPR recommendations concerning enforced disappearances,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. The government must also keep its word and accept international technical assistance in the investigation.” Continue reading

Our young Lao volunteers

This award is also for our young Lao volunteers and youth leaders, who have demonstrated to us, the adults, that they have the capacity, and indeed the right, to claim the space to determine their own and their community’s development pathway. I believe that it is their passion and their hopes and dreams for a better future which are recognized and celebrated through this prestigious award today.

Sombath Somphone, in his response upon receiving the Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2005.

ເຖິງສົມບັດ…ຈາກ ຊຸຍມິງ

ອ້າຍສົມບັດທີ່ແສນຮັກ,

ມື້ນີ້ ວັນທີ 17 ເດືອນ ກຸມພາ ເປັນມື້ວັນເກີດຂອງອ້າຍ. ມັນເປັນປີທີ 3 ທີ່ອ້າຍບໍ່ໄດ້ ສະຫລອງວັນເກີດກັບນ້ອງ. ບໍ່ໄດ້ສະຫລອງວັນເກີດກັບນ້ອງກໍແມ່ນມີຄວາມຍາກຫລາຍ ແລ້ວ; ແຕ່ວ່າ ບໍ່ມີອ້າຍສົມບັດຢູ່ກັບ ຊຸຍມິງ ໃນມື້ພິເສດນີ້ ກໍຍັງເປັນການເສົ້າໃຈທີ່ ອົດທົນໄດ້ຍາກ.

17 February 2015ເພື່ອເປັນການລະນຶກເຖິງມື້ວັນເກີດນັ້ນ, ພີ່ນ້ອງ ຄອບຄົວຂອງອ້າຍສົມບັດແລະນ້ອງເອງໄດ້ໄປ ເຄນອາຫານ ຢູ່ວັດປ່ານາຄູນນ້ອຍໃຫ້ພຣະສົງ ຊຶ່ງເປັນວັດທີ່ເຈົ້າໄດ້ມີການພົວພັນ ຢ່າງໃກ້ຊິດ. ເປັນວັດທີ່ເຈົ້າໄດ້ເລີ່ມຕັ້ງ ໂຄງການ ພຸດທະສາສະໜາເພື່ອການພັດທະນາ (ຄ.ພ.ພ) ເປັນຄັ້ງທຳອິດ ຢູ່ໃນຄວາມອຸປະຖັມຂອງ ພຣະອາຈານຊາລີ ຮອງປະທານ ຂອງອົງການ ພຸດທະສາສະໜາ ສຳພັນລາວ. ຢູ່ໃນ ຄ.ພ.ພ ເຈົ້າຍັງສາມາດໄດ້ສະເໜີ ຕໍ່ ພຣະສົງຈຳນວນນຶ່ງ ແນວຄິດຂອງພຸດທະສາສະໜາທີ່ຕ້ອງເອົາຈິງເອົາຈັງ ເປັນລະບົບ ຂອງການສິດສອນພຸດທະສາສະໜາ ແລະພາກປະຕິບັດທີ່ຈຸງໃຈໃຫ້ພຣະສົງອອກຈາກ ຂອບເຂດຂອງວັດວາອາຮາມແລະມີພັນທະຫລາຍຂຶ້ນກັບບັນຫາ ທີ່ກະທົບຕໍ່ຊຸມຊົນທົ່ວໄປ ແລະໃນສັງຄົມ. Continue reading

Dear Sombath… from Shuimeng

My dearest Sombath,

Today, 17 February, is your birthday. This is the third year that you have not celebrated your birthday with me. Not having you with me is already very difficult; but not having you with me on this special day is even harder to bear.

S17 February 2015o, to mark the day, members of your family and I went to offer food for the monks in the forest temple, Wat Na Khoune Noi, the temple that you have been so closely associated with. This is the temple where you first started the Buddhist Development Program (BDP), under the protective endorsement from Phra Arjan Sali, the Vice Partriarch of the Buddhist Sangha. Through the BDP you were able to introduce to some monks the concepts of Engaged Buddhism, a system of Buddhist teachings and practice that encourage the monastics to step outside the confines of their temples and be more engaged in issues that affected the wider community and society. Continue reading