The Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone: A documentary

December 15 2018 marks the 6th anniversary of the Disappearance of my husband, Sombath Somphone, a Lao educator and a respected community development worker. Sombath Somphone was also the winner of the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award, which is often referred to as the Asia Nobel Prize.

Six years ago, on 15 December 2012, Sombath Somphone was abducted in front of a manned police post in Vientiane, the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. His kidnapping was recorded on police CCTV, and a copy of it quickly went viral. The footage stunned the world. Outrage quickly followed, with world leaders urging the Lao government to find and return Sombath to me and my family.

However, to date, the Lao Government has refused to conduct any transparent investigation on Sombath’s abduction, and continued to insist the state was not involved. Despite the stonewalling and lack of credible response from the Lao authorities, I have not given up on my campaign to find Sombath and to get answers on what happened to him. I continue to use all avenues seek truth and justice for my husband and my family.

Three years ago, a small group of friends encouraged me to do a documentary on the life and times and work of Sombath Somphone, and how he was disappeared. With the help of a good friend of Sombath Somphone, a documentary entitled “The Disappearance of Sombath Somphone” is now completed.

For me, this documentary is important. Through this documentary, I want to tell the world what happened to Sombath, what kind of a person Sombath is, why he returned to Laos after his studies in the US, and how he used his skills and knowledge to improve the lives of poor rural families and communities like those he grew up with. The documentary also provides Laos’s political and social background in which Sombath lived and worked.

The film is also dedicated to all the Disappeared and their families. Enforced Disappearance is a terrible crime and injustice, and one of the worst human rights violations against the rights and dignity of the victims. I want to give voice to all victims and end Enforced Disappearance in our society and community.

Shui Meng Ng, wife of Sombath Somphone, December 2018.

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