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UN Committee Set to Examine Civil and Political Rights in Laos

RFA: 14 June 2018 A U.N. review of the rights record of Laos scheduled for July should look closely into the condition of civil and political rights in the Southeast Asian country, focusing on reports in recent years of forced disappearances and harsh prison terms...

A sustainable education and development model should have a balance between the four pillars: economic development, environmental harmony, promotion and preservation of culture, and spiritual well-being…
Education and development in an ecological, holistic manner are interconnected, both are inter-dependent and supportive of each other.
Of course, at the base of the model is good governance, which promotes justice and fairness for everyone through the rule of law.

— Sombath Somphone

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Who is Sombath?

Sombath Somphone was born into a farming family in Khammouane Province, Laos, the eldest of eight brothers and sisters. In the early 1970’s he received a scholarship to study at the University of Hawaii where he received a BA in Education (1974) and an MA in Agriculture (1978).

Returning to his home country after independence, Sombath’s initial work was on promoting low-cost methods of improving farm production and food security. Later, he pioneered the use of participatory rural appraisal techniques in Laos. In 1996, he established the Participatory Development Training Center, PADETC, to provide training for youth, and local government officials in community-based development.

In June, 2012, Sombath retired from his position as Director of PADETC, intending to spend more time with his familiy, meditating and writing.

More about Sombath can be found in a biography written when he received the Magsaysay Award,  or at his page on Wikipedia. 

There are also pages about Sombath on the PADETC and Saoban websites.

Finally, more ore about Sombath can be found on this website on the Sombath’s Work, Letters to Sombath, and Inspiration Tree pages.

His Abduction

Sombath Somphone was abducted from a police checkpoint on a major street in Vientiane at approximately 6:00 pm on December 15, 2012.

Video and pictures of that abduction obtained from a CCTV camera clearly indicate police involvement.

A chronology of  the investigation  into the incident is also available, as are questions about that investigation.

Global Concern

The reaction to Sombath’s disappearance was immediate and global.

Statements and appeals have come from governments, organisations and individuals throughout the world. News coverage  has been widespread and sustained. Numerous events have been organised, and thousands of people are asking ‘Where is Sombath’?