Six years after his disappearance at a Lao police checkpoint, the wife of rural development activist Sombath Somphone called again on the Lao government to account for his fate, saying she has been kept in the dark despite government promises to investigate his case.
“I am very sad that after six long years, I still have no news about Sombath,” Ng Shui Meng, a resident of Singapore, told RFA’s Lao Service in a phone call on Dec. 12.
BANGKOK: The wife of a prominent Laos activist who vanished after being stopped at a checkpoint on the streets of Vientiane said Wednesday (Dec 12) she “can’t move on” as the mystery over his fate remains unsolved almost six years later.
The disappearance of Sombath Somphone, an award-winning environmental campaigner, drew rare international attention to the poor rights record of Laos, an authoritarian one-party state where activists work under state scrutiny.
Sombath was last seen on the night of Dec 15, 2012, with CCTV cameras capturing the moment when police pulled him over at a checkpoint in the Laos capital. He was shown entering a separate truck with two other men and driven off.
Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone disappeared on the evening of 15 December 2012, after being stopped at a police checkpoint on a busy street of Vientiane, Laos. Footage from a CCTV camera near the police checkpoint showed that unknown individuals forced Sombath into another vehicle and drove away in the presence of police officers. Sombath has never been seen again. His fate or whereabouts remain unknown to this day.
Six years after Sombath Somphone’s disappearance, what has been done to safely return Sombath? What are the regional implications of his disappearance? What are the next steps?
A panel of four distinguished speakers will answer these questions and provide an update on the quest for truth and justice for Sombath Somphone’s disappearance.
Ms. Shui-Meng Ng: Spouse of Sombath Somphone
Mr. Edmund Bon: Malaysia’ s representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
Ms. Premrudee Daoroung: Project SEVANA South-East Asia Coordinator
Mr. Charles Santiago: Malaysian Member of Parliament (via Skype)
Moderated by FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
This year marks 6th year anniversary of PADETC fair. The theme this year is to celebrate the work and passion of Mr. Sombath: “Promoting Ecological Sustainability: Towards a more liveable Laos for all.”
There will be a Buddhist ceremony for blessing starting on the evening of December 13th. On the 14th there will be Buddhist prayer in the morning and a booth display from PADETC’s former learning centers at the former PADETC office.
The second Sombath Symposium was held on November 24-25 in Bangkok, Thailand. Organised by the Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute and Focus on the Global South, participants from ten countries and four continents discussed the impact of the predominant model of economic development on human rights, as well as how various groups and movements use laws and mechanisms to protect and preserve their rights and livelihoods.
We should be reminded that while concerns [regarding Sombath’s dissappearance) continue to be raised in the confines of the Universal Periodic Review and similar human rights dialogues, the policies and programmes of governments, donors, regional development banks and development agencies remain largely unaltered.
People’s Agenda for ASEM Parliamentarians
Final Declaration from The Asia Europe People’s Forum 12, Ghent, Belgium 1st October 2018
The People’s Agenda for ASEM Parliamentarians is an expression of the visions and demands of over 425 women and men who are citizens from diverse backgrounds, representing people’sorganisations from over 48 countries across Asia and Europe joined together to work for a Just, Equal and Inclusive Asia and Europe. We met in the Asia Europe People’s Forum12 in Ghent, Belgium between 29th September and 1st October 2018 ahead of ASEM12.
We are linked and brought together through the Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF). The AEPF is a strategic civil society gathering of Asian and European social movements, non-governmental organisations and campaign networks that are confronting poverty and inequality and working for social, economic and climate justice.
We are committed to promoting, consolidating and strengthening engagement with ASEM governments’ leaders, parliamentarians and related regional bodies and enabling people’svoices to be shared and heard.
We are committed to working in constructive ways with the governments who are members of ASEM to implement people-centred responses to the current crises in an effective and responsible manner.
We believe that priority must be given to poor, excluded and marginalised people and more democratic and accountable institutions must be in place to assure that processes and measures will lead to a just, equal, inclusive and sustainable Asia and Europe based on respect for gender equality and the promotion and protection of human, economic and socio-cultural rights, environmental security and the protection of our Commons.
The unsolved case of disappeared Laotian development worker Sombath Somphone is brought to light in a documentary that is screening at this year’s FreedomFilmFest in Malaysia
Sombath Somphone was an internationally renowned development worker who disappeared nearly six years ago on the streets of Vientiane, Laos. CCTV footage suggests that the police snatched him. The case is still unsolved and the Lao police and government have continued to maintain their innocence in the matter.
The 2017 documentary film The Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone, directed by Rann Penn, will be screened at this year’s FreedomFilmFest, taking place in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Englisch mit deutschen Untertiteln, Filmvorführung (50’) mit anschliessender Podiumsdiskussion; Apéro
Dienstag, 2. Oktober
19:00 bis 21:00
Uhr Volkshaus Zürich, Blauer Saal
Eintritt 10.– CHF
Anmeldung erforderlich unter helvetas.org/sombath
Ende 2012 wurde der laotische NGO-Aktivist Sombath Somphone von der Polizei verhaftet – seither fehlt jede Spur von ihm. Trotz erdrückender Beweislast lehnt die Regierung von Laos jede Verantwortung ab und verweigert jegliche Unterstützung bei der Aufklärung des Falles. Entsprechend scheiterten alle bisherigen Bemühungen von Angehörigen, Freunden und Partner- organisationen, Sombaths Schicksal aufzuklären.
Am Dienstag, 2. Oktober weilt Shui Meng, die Frau von Sombath Somphone, auf die Einladung von Helvetas hin in der Schweiz, um einen neuen, bereitspreisgekrönten Dokumentarfilm über Sombath und sein langjähriges Engagement für ein offenes und tolerantes Laos zu zeigen. Der Film ist sehr bewegend und vermittelt auch die jüngere Geschichte Laos’ auf eindrückliche Art und Weise. Helvetas nimmt den Film zum Anlass, um mit Shui Meng und weiteren Gästen über die Menschenrechtslage in Laos und die Rolle der Schweiz zu diskutieren:
Shui Meng, Frau von Sombath Somphone
Barbara Dietrich, Programmverantwortliche Laosbei Helvetas
Guido Käppeli, Honorarkonsul von Laos in der Schweiz
Sandra Lendenmann Winterberg, Chefin der Sektion Menschenrechtspolitik der Abteilung Menschliche Sicherheit, Eidgenössisches Depar- tement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten (EDA)