Dear Sombath…from Shui Meng (1)

My dearest Sombath,

Late last week, the European Parliament issued another resolution calling on the Lao Government to “clarify the state of the investigation into the whereabouts of Sombath Somphone, to answer the many outstanding questions around Sombath’s disappearance, and to seek and accept assistance from foreign forensic and law enforcement experts’’. The EU reiterated that ‘’the lack of reaction by the Lao Government raises suspicions that the authorities could be involved in his abduction’’.

Although I am very grateful for the continued international pressure, I have to tell you that I cannot help but feel the Lao authorities will just shrug this latest EU resolution aside, as they have done with all the other statements of concern and appeals from around the world. The Lao Government can continue to do nothing because there have been few concrete consequences to their inaction, except for some bad press in the international arena.

As you and I know well, bad press at the international level will have little impact inside the country.  Most Lao people, including the Lao leaders and the Lao officials, do not read very widely, except what’s in the Lao media. And the Lao media, except relating the official government statements about your case, has not reported one word from the international media, organizations or other governments on your enforced disappearance. It is the classic case of “we see nothing, we hear nothing, and we say nothing”.

Even though I am increasingly discouraged by the lack of results from all the actions taken by concerned governments and organizations, I still hope that there will be some individuals or groups within the decision-making bodies in the country that must see how damaging the lack of credible answers about what has happened to you has done to the Lao image as a State and as a Government on the international scene.

Certainly some people at the top of the decision-making bodies must know how hollow and how incredulous their official statements are to the readers. Certainly somebody wise and who truly has the well-being of the Lao State at heart could make the decision to put an end to all this gracefully by either revealing the facts about your case, or accepting international assistance to conduct a transparent investigation. Otherwise it only gives the impression that “the authorities could be involved in his abduction,” as alleged by the EU statement.

So, Sombath, let’s hope that common sense will prevail sooner rather than later and someone wise in the leadership will step up to provide some credible answers to what happened to you.

Sombath, please stay strong and continue to have courage, hope and faith.

Love you, Shui Meng