We stand ready to support

We know Mr. Somphone as being highly committed to the development of the people of the Lao PDR, and he is very respected in the Lao and International development communities. His family has reported him missing to the Ministry of Public Security, but has received no news about his whereabouts.

We are very concerned about Mr. Somphone’s safety, and we urge the Lao authorities to use its resources to locate him and bring him home safely.

We stand ready to support in any way we can.

From a December, 2012 letter from 22 INGOs to the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Lao government has not requested any assistance, nor have there been any further letters or offers of support from CSOs operating in the Lao PDR.

Articles addressing the effects of Sombath’s disappearance on Lao civil society include:

Click on the Lao Civil Society tag at the bottom of this page for a listing of these and other related content on this site.

Dear Sombath…from Hans van Willenswaard

Dear Sombath,

SB-prayerGreetings from the Netherlands. I was asked to write you a letter. That is not easy, I don’t know where you are, how you are; are you still in this world? It is very difficult to imagine that your presence is no longer under your own control. The first time we shared an event was the Gross National Happiness conference in Canada in 2005. We all got absorbed in the joyful style of this conference and the place that was given to spirituality, good food, the First Nation people of Canada, art, the initiators from Bhutan and to young people. You wholeheartedly joined the preparations for the next GNH conference, first in Thailand for partners from the Mekong region, and in 2007 the international event in Nongkhai and Bangkok, Thailand. You had hosted the visit of a delegation from Bhutan to PADETC and several places in Laos in order to familiarize our Bhutanese friends with the way of life in the Mekong region. We discovered a lot of the same intentions across countries: in particular to support young people in their discovery of genuine happiness; and how to integrate this happiness perspective in education.

You presided over the interreligious opening ceremony at Wat Hin Mak Peng, just the opposite bank of the Mae Kong River from Vientiane. You spoke at the provincial hall in Nongkhai and at the main auditorium of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. The memories come back now as we prepare for the next GNH conference in Thimphu, Bhutan. We all miss you dearly, Sombath.

What I most remember, now, is that we meditated and prayed for the wellbeing of all people at many occasions. You often led us in these meditations. When I go back to these moments of silence I feel united with you, with all the people you prayed and worked so hard for. With effort I feel even united with the people who are responsible for your disappearance. May we all be well and happy and realize the sometimes awful mistakes we made. Let us try to bring back your sincere intentions and your inner strength.

Hans van Willenswaard, School for Wellbeing Studies and Research

Sombath Somphone Receives the 2015 Gwangju Special Award for Human Rights

Pressenza: 21 May 2015


‘I stand before you humble and a little sad that it is I who is here to receive this Special Award for Human Rights’, said Shui Meng Ng, wife of Sombath Somphone upon accepting the 2015 Gwangju Special Award for Human Rights in Gwangju, South Korea last Monday on the 18th May. ‘It would have been such a happy occasion, and such an honour, if Sombath could be here to receive this Award himself. Unfortunately, circumstances do not allow it.’

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights was established in 2000 to promote the spirit of the May 18 Democratic Uprising. The May 18 Democratic Uprising took place in the city of Gwangju, South Korea from 18-27 May 1980. At the time, Gwangju citizens took up arms after local students, who had been demonstrating peacefully against the Chun Doo-hwan government, were fired upon, killed, and beaten. Estimates suggest up to 606 people died in just a few days. It is deemed one of the turning points in the South Korean democracy movement. Every year, May 18 is commemorated with ceremonies and festivities, including the Gwangju Asia Forum and the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. Continue reading

Open Letter to ACSC/APF Steering Committee

22 May 2015ACSC-APF

Dear Members of the ACSC/APF Steering Committee,

It is our understanding that you currently face a decision about whether to hold your 2016 forum in the Lao PDR.  Please allow us to share our experience and concerns in this regard.

In the lead up to the ninth Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF9) held in 2012, there were also many who questioned whether the Lao PDR was a suitable venue. Others, including Sombath Somphone, who was serving as the National Co-organiser, argued that while there may be challenges, it would be a very good opportunity for Lao civil society to develop both internally as well as in its international relations.


Throughout the planning process, members of the AEPF were repeatedly given assurances by the Lao government there would be no interference.  Indeed, materials shared with participants stated:

The AEPF9 aims to enable a secure environment that encourages learning and reflection and provides space for open, respectful, diverse and constructive debate. We support harmony, compassion and understanding, whilst recognizing the strength of diversity and solidarity for peaceful and sustainable development.

The reality, unfortunately, proved quite different. Government staff were present in virtually every event, often acting in the guise of regular citizens. Lao participants who voiced their opinions were often rebuked or reprimanded and in one case publicly berated and sent threatening text messages. Translation to and from Lao was often truncated or distorted, and the distribution of key documents was banned. Continue reading

2015 Gwangju Special Award for Sombath

SB in Japan 2008bToday I stand before you humbled and also a little sad that it is I who is here to receive this Special Award for Human Rights on behalf of my husband, Sombath Somphone. It would have been such a happy occasion, and such an honor, if Sombath could be here to receive this award himself. Unfortunately, circumstances do not allow it. Sombath was disappeared…

…Sombath always says that development and progress cannot be guided only by technical knowledge and science alone. Development and progress must be underpinned by spiritual values – values of compassion, kindness, respect of all life (human and animal) and respect for nature.

From remarks by Shui Meng Ng in accepting the 2015 Special Award from the May 15 Memorial Foundation.

광주인권상 ‘솜폰’ 부인 “실종 남편 구출에 동참해달라”

Yonhap News Agency: 18 May 2015


실종된 ‘솜바스 솜폰’ 구출 서명 동참 호소하는 부인 (광주=연합뉴스) 장아름 기자 = 2015 광주인권상 특별상 수상자인 솜바스 솜폰(Sombath Somphone·라오스)의 부인 수이 멩(Shui Meng)여사가 18일 광주 5·18 기념문화센터에서 열린 기자회견에서 실종 상태인 남편을 구출하기 위한 라오스 정부의 조속한 수사를 촉구하는 청원 운동에 보다 많은 한국인이 동참해줄 것을 호소하고 있다. 2015.5.18 areum@yna.co.kr

(광주=연합뉴스) 장아름 기자 “실종된 남편 솜바스 솜폰 구출을 위한 라오스 정부의 수사를 촉구하는 서명에 더 많이 참여해 주시길 간절히 호소합니다.”

2015 광주인권상 특별상 수상자인 솜바스 솜폰(Sombath Somphone·라오스)의 부인 수이 멩(Shui Meng)여사는 18일 실종 상태인 남편을 구출하기 위한 라오스 정부의 조속한 수사를 촉구하는 청원 운동에 많은 한국인이 동참해줄 것을 호소했다.

이날 광주인권상 시상식을 앞두고 광주 5·18 기념문화센터에서 열린 기자회견에서 수이 멩 여사는 “누가 솜폰의 유괴에 대한 책임이 있는 지는 모른다”며 “다만 라오스 정부는 자국민이 자국에서 유괴된 데 대해, 무사히 돌아오게 하는데 대해 책임을 느끼고 수사에 착수해야 한다”고 말했다.

수이 멩 여사는 “남편은 수십년간 가난한 지역민을 위해 활동을 해왔다”며 “최근 라오스 정부가 외국자본을 투자해 광산이나 댐 등을 개발하는 사업에 관심을 많이 가지면서 외국 자본과 지역민 간 갈등이 커졌고 남편의 활동도 정부와 갈등을 겪기도 했다”고 설명했다. Continue reading

ລາງວັນພິເສດສຳລັບ ສົມບັດ

SB in Japan 2008bມື້ນີ້ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າຢືນຢູ່ຕໍ່ໜ້າບັນດາທ່ານດ້ວຍຄວາມເຄົາລົບ ແລະ ດ້ວຍຄວາມໂສກເສົ້າເລັກນ້ອຍທີ່ເປັນ ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າຜູ້ທີ່ມາຮັບ ລາງວັນພິເສດເພື່ອສິດທິມະນຸດນີ້ ແທນທີ່ຈະເປັນ ສົມບັດ ຜູ້ເປັນສາມີຂອງຂ້າພະເຈົ້າ ເຊິ່ງໂອກາດແບບນີ້ຈະເຕັມປ່ຽມໄປ ດ້ວຍຄວາມສຸກ ແລະ ມີກຽດຫງ່າທີ່ສຸດຖ້າຫາກສົມບັດ ໄດ້ ມາຮັບລາງວັນນີ້ດ້ວຍຕົວລາວເອງ ແຕ່ກໍໜ້າເສຍດາຍທີ່ ສະຖານະການບໍ່ເອື້ອອຳນວຍ. ສົມບັດໄດ້ຖືກບັງຄັບໃຫ້ຫາຍ ຕົວໄປຕໍ່ໜ້າປ້ອມຕຳຫຼວດເມື່ອສອງປີກ່ອນ…

…ສົມບັດ ​ເວົ້າ​ຕະຫຼອດ​ວ່າການ​ພັດທະນາ ​ແລະ ຄວາມ​ກ້າວໜ້າ​ບໍ່​​ສາມາດ​ເກີດ​ຂື້ນ​ໄດ້​​ໂດຍ​ການ​ນຳ​ໃຊ້​ແຕ່ ຄວາມ​ຮູ້​ທາງ​ວິຊາ​ການ ​ແລະ ວິທະຍາສາດ​​ເທົ່າ​ນັ້ນ ​ແຕ່​ຕ້ອງ​ມີຮາກ​ຖານ​ມາຈາກ​ຄຸນຄ່າ​ທາງ​ຈິດ​ໃຈ ກໍ​ຄື​ຄວາມມີ​ເມ​ດຕາ, ຈິດ​ໃຈ​ທີ່ອ່ອນ​ໂຍນ, ການ​ເຄົາລົບນັບຖື​ຕໍ່​ສິ່ງຊີວິດຕ່າງໆ (ທັງ​ມະນຸດ ​ແລະ ສັດ) ​ແລະ ​ຕໍ່​ທຳ​ມະ​ຊາດ.

​ຈາກ ບົດ​ກ່າວ​ຂອງ ນາງ ອຶງ ຊຸຍ​ມິ​ງ ໃນ​ງານ​ມອບ​-ຮັບ ລາງວັນ​ກວາງ​ຈູ ​ຈາກມູນ​ນິທິ​ສິບ​ແປດ​ພຶດສະພາ

ທ. ສົມບັດໄດ້ຮັບຣາງວັນ ກຽດຕິຄຸນ

ວິທະຍຸເອເຊຍເສຣີ: 12 ພຶດສະພາ 2015
On Economics and Developmentຄນະ ກັມມະການ ເພື່ອ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ທີ່ ມີ ຊື່ວ່າ ຫວັງຈູ ທີ່ ມີ ຫ້ອງການ ຢູ່ ປະເທດ ເກົາຫລີ ໃຕ້ ໄດ້ ມອບ  ຣາງວັນ ກຽດຕິຄຸນ ໃຫ້ ບຸກຄົນ ທີ່ ເຮັດວຽກ ດ້ານ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ທີ່ ດີເດັ່ນ ປະຈໍາ ປີ 2015.

ໃນ ນັ້ນ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ນັກ ພັທນາ ອາວຸໂສ ດີເດັ່ນ ຂອງລາວ ທີ່ ຖືກ ລັກພາຕົວ ໄປ ໃນ ວັນທີ 15 ທັນວາ 2012 ກໍ ເປັນ ຜູ້ນຶ່ງ ທີ່ ຖືກ ຄັດເລືອກ ໃຫ້ ໄດ້ຮັບ ຣາງວັນ ກຽດຕິຄຸນ ໃນ ຄັ້ງນີ້.

ຢູ່ໃນ ຈົດໝາຍ ຂອງ ຄນະ ກັມມະການ ດ້ານ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ຂອງ ຫວັງຈູ ໄດ້ ແຈ້ງວ່າ: ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ໄດ້ ໃຊ້ ເວລາ 30 ປີ ເພື່ອ ສົ່ງເສີມ ແລະ ໃຫ້ການ ຝຶກ ອົບຮົມ ແກ່ ໄວໜຸ່ມ ໃນ ດ້ານ ການ ສຶກສາ, ການ ພັທນາ ຊົນນະບົດ ແບບ ຍືນຍົງ.

ແລະ ໃນ ຕອນທ້າຍ ຈົດໝາຍ ຂອງ ຄນະ ກັມມະການ ໄດ້ເວົ້າ ໄວ້ວ່າ ຣາງວັນ ພິເສດ ດັ່ງກ່າວ ນີ້ ຈະ ປະກອບ ສ່ວນ ຍົກສູງ ເຣື້ອງ ການ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ແລະ ຊອກຫາ ຕົວ ທ່ານ ແລະ ໃຫ້ ທ່ານ ກັບ ມາຫາ ຄອບຄົວ ຢ່າງ ປອດໄພ. ອົງການ ທີ່ ເຮັດວຽກ ດ້ານ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ຫວັງຈູ ຖືກສ້າງຕັ້ງ ຂຶ້ນ ໃນປີ 1994 ຢູ່ ປະເທດ ເກົາຫລີ ໃຕ້ ໂດຍ ມີ ຈຸດປະສົງ ເພື່ອ ເຮັດວຽກ ສົ່ງເສີມ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ແລະ ການສ້າງ ສັນຕິພາບ ໃນ ທົ່ວໂລກ.

Sombath Receives Gwangju Special Award for 2015

May 18 Memorial FoundationGwangju Human Rights Award Committee has also selected Sombath Somphone of Laos who is the founder of the Participatory Development Training Center in Vientiane as a recipient of Special Award of 2015.  Sombath Somphone has over more than 30 years worked vigorously and tirelessly empowering and training the youth of Laos, promoting quality education, and ecologically sustainable development especially in poor rural communities. Unfortunately, he was disappeared right in front of a police post on December 15, 2012. His abduction was recorded on the police surveillance camera (CCTV) and has been seen by many people all over the world.

The authorities of Laos have denied any involvement in his disappearance. The May 18 Memorial Foundation has decided to launch the campaign to urge the Lao Government Authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation to find him and return him safely to his family and to the global community.

We hope this Special Award will contribute to raising awareness of his disappearance and finding his whereabouts and bringing him back to his family as soon as possible.

From Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Recipient Decision Letter from the May 18 Memorial Foundation.