If Lao officials think the issue of Sombath’s disappearance will go away, they are wrong.
Those were the words of Tuur Elzinga, a Dutch Senator who led the European Delegation to Vientiane last month. And there is plenty of evidence to support Tuur Elzinga’s statement at the website created to raise awareness of the disappearance of Sombath Somphone.
The website at https://sombath.org has now been viewed more than 100,000 times. Citizens from more than 140 countries have visited the site since it was launched in January this year, less than a month after Sombath was abducted outside a police post in Vientiane.
The site has attracted a strong interest from the Lao community at home and abroad, with approximately 25% of visitors living in Laos and another 25% in the United States. Other countries in the top 10 are: Thailand, Australia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore and Switzerland.
The plight of the most prominent figure in Lao civil society has also attracted attention from dozens of other countries, from India to Iceland, Japan to Jamaica, and Vietnam to Venezuela.
The content of the site continues to expand and now has links to more than 100 news articles and statements of concern. Also on the rise is the number of subscribers, with more than 1,400 people currently receiving updates by email or through Facebook and Twitter.
One of the recent additions to the site was a Statement from John Kerry, US
Secretary of State:
Regrettably, the continuing, unexplained disappearance of Mr. Sombath, a widely respected and inspiring Lao citizen who has worked for the greater benefit of all of his countrymen, raises questions about the Lao government’s commitment to the rule of law and to engage responsibly with the world.
The world is waiting.