My dearest Sombath
Today is 30 August 2014, International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances – a Day to remind the world that Enforced Disappearance is an international crime and violation against human rights. It is also a Day to remember the pain and suffering this violation causes to the victims and their families.
For the people around the world – it may be just a small jolt to their collective memory that such awful crimes against humanity continue to happen around the world, and that there are still many families and communities whose lives are forever changed, and forever broken. They are also asked to remember that in thousand and thousand of cases, the perpetrators of the crime are state agents who are protected by the state and its broken justice system. They are servants of states which deliberately use enforced disappearances as a tool of state intimidation to silence their own citizens who are viewed as “troublesome”, “outspoken”, “civil activists”, or “politically incorrect”.
Sombath, for me, this day is more than a reminder of my nightmare – it is a reopening of an unhealed wound – a wound that continues to fester, and a loss that deepens with each passing day. Sombath, I don’t need one day in a year to remind me that you have been forcedly taken away from me and our family. Your abduction right in front of a police post on 15 December two years ago has been deeply etched into my memory every moment of every single day. Each night, I pray and hope that you will come visit me in my dream – just so that I can see you and touch you in my dream world, even if it were just for a few seconds. Such is my feeling loss without you over the past 623 days.
Sombath, I must also share with you one small comfort that has sustained me over the past 18 months. Your disappearance has not been forgotten by your friends, family, civil rights groups, human rights defenders, and also government leaders from around the world. They continue to ask the Lao government leaders to “find you” and “return you safely”. Even though I sometimes feel very discouraged and tired, such support and concern continues to give me hope that I will eventually be given answers, and that you will come home to me and our family.
My dearest Sombath, despite my personal pain and loss, I am sure you will also want us not to forget other victims of disappearances and their families. Like so many other people, the issue of enforced disappearances and the emotional havoc disappearances can cause to the lives of families and communities was not very much in my consciousness until you were disappeared. I now understand the indescribable trauma and pain such violations have caused ordinary people – mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and sons and daughters. So, on this International Day of Disappearances, we pledge our solidarity with all victims and families of the disappeared. We share their collective pain, but we also honour their collective struggle for truth, justice and peace. Together we must work to STOP AND END DISAPPEARANCES.
With you and love you as always, Shui Meng