Sombath Somphone’s early life took place amidst uncertainty and turbulence as Laos was swept into the Indochina War. He eventually escaped this by winning a scholarship to the University of Hawaii, where he earned degrees in education and agriculture. By 1980, he was home again. That same year Sombath helped launch the Rice-Based Integrated Farm... continue reading.
Radio Free Asia: 09 August 2016 Laos’ representatives attending a meeting of civil society organizations that is held each year during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit said little about human rights issues inside their own authoritarian country because they were selected by the government in Vientiane, sources tell RFA. While the ASEAN... continue reading.
“Humanity & Nature,” a workshop on traditional and alternative perspectives about humanity’s relationship with the environment was held on August 4th at the ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) in Dili, Timor Leste. Topics discussed included Sombath’s work and philosophy, holistic education, gross national happiness, traditional wisdom, and agro-ecology. A video from an earlier workshop on these issues... continue reading.
The ACSC/APF 2016 will not take place in Lao PDR, due to concerns over possible restrictions and limited freedom of expression on key issues of concerns of ASEAN which are inconsistent with the agreed ACSC/APF’s modality of engagement. From the CSO Statement of the 2016 ACSC/APF recently held in Timor Leste. Ironically, the forum’s Regional Steering Committee... continue reading.
Amnesty International: 03 August 2016 Three Lao human rights activists have been arrested on 5 and 22 March in circumstances that may constitute enforced disappearances. They remain in incommunicado detention since they appeared on national television on 25 May in a report that confirmed that they had been arrested for threatening national security through social media... continue reading.
Lao civil society representatives made it clear that Sombath’s name, among other issues, would not be welcome at a ACSC/APF event held in Laos. For this and other reasons, the event was moved to Timor-Leste. “Humanity and Nature” will be held from 16:15-18:15 PM on August 4th in room two of the Alola Foundation. Speakers... continue reading.
Bangkok Post: 02 August 2016 The Asean Civil Society Conference/Asean Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) which is to take place today in Dili, Timor-Leste appears to be clouded by uncertainty and fears. Concerns have emerged as there have been no indications that the three-day meeting, as stated during preparatory events in March and May, can provide a... continue reading.
Libération: 2 août 2016 Le défenseur des petits paysans a été enlevé fin 2012 dans des conditions troubles. Au Timor oriental, une conférence citoyenne se penche sur sa disparition. Il est l’un des disparus les plus célèbres d’Asie du Sud-Est. Et pour les autorités du Laos, Sombath Somphone est devenu un nom à taire, sinon une vie à occulter.... continue reading.
Dear Uncle Sombath, I have not written to you in a long time, since you disappeared. That hit me inside, in my heart. It made me wonder what I should do about my work, because you were always my role model, ever since I was a PADETC volunteer while in secondary school. The first time... continue reading.
The Economist: 23 July 2016 As Barack Obama prepares for his first visit to Laos, its civil society struggles A HIGHLIGHT of Ounkeo Souksavanh’s years as a radio host in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, came in late 2011 when he hosted an episode of Wao Kao (“News Talk”) on land disputes in the south of... continue reading.