Dear Sombath…from Shui Meng (25)

My dearest Sombath,

Today is Christmas Eve and I am in Singapore where I will be celebrating Christmas with my family. In the past, you and I also often came back to Singapore to celebrate Christmas and New Year with my family. But now it’s only me!

Sombath, to mark the ninth anniversary of your disappearance, I went to Bangkok to launch a book I wrote about you. It is called, “Silencing of a Laotian Son –the Life, Work and Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone”.  The book launch took place on 14 December at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) and it was very well attended.  Many people are still concerned about you and they are still outraged that after 9 years the Lao authorities still did not provide any information of the investigation of your abduction. It was clear to all that such withholding of information of your whereabouts is a cover-up.

At the event, some people asked me why I wrote the book. I told them that I wrote the book because I want to tell the readers, what kind of person you are – how you were brought up, how you were educated, and who were the people who had shaped and influenced your life and made you the kind of man you are. I also through the book narrated the work you did and the challenges you faced after you went back to Laos after graduating from the University of Hawaii. And finally I described how you were abducted at the police check point on Thadeua Road on the evening of 15 December 2012.

My dearest Sombath, it has been nine years now that you have been taken away from me and our family. Nine long agonizing year I have looked for answers, and for nine years, I have been stonewalled and given no answers at all. Despite the lack of answers as to what happened to you, I could not accept your unlawful and unjust abduction by just letting the passage of time wipe away the memory of your life and your 30-years work in Laos among the rural communities and among the thousands of young people you have trained.  I want to let future generations, especially future generations of Lao people, know about you and what happened to you. I do not want your disappearance to negate your life or the contributions you have made to your community and society. More importantly, I do not want the Lao people to forget how you were so unjustly abducted and taken away from me and your family. That is why I wrote the book.

Sombath, this book is my way of showing my love for you and I want you and your legacy to continue through this book.

My love, I still hold up the hope that you will come back to me one day. When that day comes, I will give you a copy of the book and we can read it together sitting in our home by the Mekong.

Meanwhile I want to send you these words from an anonymous writer:

Those we love don’t go away
They walk beside us everyday
Unseen unheard but always near
Still loved, still missed and very dear.

Sombath, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year wherever you are.

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