Sulak Sivaraksa, a leading figure in the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, talks about the disappearance of his friend Sombath Somphone, during a panel discussion at the Foreign Correspondence Club of Thailand, 21 Dec 2012.
This longer video is also worth watching, with key points from the discussion at FCCT. Speakers include Sulak Sivaraksa, Kraisak Choonhavan, Somchai Homlaor, Supalak Ganjanakhundee and Premrudee Daoroung.
My uncle, Mr. Sombath Somphone, has been missing since December 15th 2012 in Vientiane, Laos. Till now, our family still haven’t got any news about where he is, who has him, why he was taken (kidnapped?), how can we get him back. So depressed and so stressful for our family and all the people who know my uncle so well. We don’t know what to do.
There’s rumor that many people have been told not to talk about him. Many people are even scared to contact with our family. Many people have told that this is very dangerous case. If you don’t know my uncle well, you will believe in that. Repectfully, to those who believe in that, for the entire life of me and my family and friends, we don’t see any thing that he has done wrong to any body. He’s just a normal person who cares so much about the future of his own country and the lives of the next generation. He have been working so hard in his entire life not to gain fame, but with a truly caring heart to help our country as much as he can do. What other people around the world said about him recently is the evident. We cannot control or force anyone to say that’s he’s good or bad. All his works since the past and the respect from people around the world have already shown us all.
If anyone know what he has done wrong. Please, please let us know. Continue reading “An appeal from Sombath’s niece”
Newspapers, media and websites across the globe have reported on the disappearance of Sombath Somphone. Links to a selection of articles can be found here, or click ‘News’ in the menu above.
The Bangkok Post provided a good summary of the situation in an article on 24th December. Here is an extract:
The news was a shock … The 60-year-old activist had never been regarded as an enemy of the state. He founded the Participatory Development Training Centre in Vientiane to promote development and education …. His work as a social developer was internationally recognised… Not surprisingly, he was called ”one of the most respected and influential voices for sustainable people-centred and just economic and social development in Laos”.
The disappearance of Sombath Somphone was immediately followed by statements of concern from around the world. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Parliamentarians from Asia and Europe, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, International NGOs – and many others – have urged the Lao Government to undertake all actions necessary to ensure the safe release of this resepected figure.
Copies of various statements can be downloaded from this page
After having received a notice on the mission of Mr. Sombath Somphone and received the CCTV footage on the incidence from his wife, the authorities concerned of the Lao PDR have checked the initial information obtained, and therefore would like to inform as follows:
On 15 December 2012, the traffic police were conducting their routine random checks on cars at the police outpost on Thadeu road in the vicinity of Watnak village, Sisattanak district, Vientiane Capital. According to the CCTV footage, at 6:00 pm the traffic police stopped the Jeep of Mr Sombath in order to check for driving license and car documents as normal procedures. Being stopped, Mr Sombath walked out from his car to the police to present documents. After the police had checked the documents they returned them to Mr Sombath and continued their duty of checking other cars. Then, a man came on a motorbike parked it near Sombath’s car and rushed to the police outpost direction. A little while after, a man walked to Sombath’s car and was driving it away slowly, according to statement of the Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Missing of Mr. Sombath Somphone, on 19 December.
About 10 minutes later, a pickup truck came with hazard lights flashing. The pickup truck stopped near the police outpost. One man entered the pickup truck and shortly after that another person got on and then got off the pickup truck and then got on the vehicle again.
There was no sign of these two men being forced while getting on the vehicle and it was not possible to identify who they were. Then the pickup truck went away to an unknown destination.
Following the preliminary assessment of the incidence from the CCTV footage, the authorities concerned viewed that, it may be possible Mr. Sombath has been kidnapped perhaps because of a personal conflict or a conflict in business or some other reasons and at this stage the authorities are not in a position to say exactly what has actually happened, why Mr. Sombath has gone missing and who have been involved in the incidence.
In this connection, the authorities concerned are currently and seriously investigating the incidence in order to find out the truth and whereabouts of Mr Sombath.