Missing Lao activist not forgotten

Bangkok Post: 11 December 2014

The number of days since Sombath Somphone went missing are marked on a website created especially for him, but they also are a painful reminder to his wife and his supporters of his disappearance more than two years ago.

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A banner on a website created for Sombath Somphone shows his friends joining calls to find the missing Lao activist. (Photo from www.sombath.org)

The supporters met on Thursday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand to remind the world that efforts to find the missing Lao activist will never end. “It is important for me to know that Sombath’s disappearance is not forgotten,” his singaporean wife Ng Shui-Meng said.

The website, www.sombath.org, keeps track of the time – 726 days have passed since he disappeared on Dec 15, 2013, while driving home from his office at the Participatory Development Training Centre in Vientiane. CCTV footage shows him being taken away by Lao police on that evening.

“Today marks the 726th day … that Sombath was taken from me and my family. Even after 726 days, the shock, the pain, the anguish have not lessened,” she said.

Because the Lao government has provided no answer to his disappearance, the Sombath Initiative, founded by his friends and fellow activists, has been created to try to achieve what the authorities have failed to do – find him.

”Working with the Sombath Initiative will hopefully help me deal with my loss and pain in a productive way. It is not that the pain will go away, it never will, but it will help me deal with it,” she added.

Angkhana Neelapajit, who is a member of the initiative, praised the united effort to resolve the disappearance of one of Laos’s most renowned civil society figures and follow up Sombath’s determination to promote community-based development projects.

She said the problems of ”enforced disappearance” remain not only in Laos but in southeast Asian countries in general.

 

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