Sombath Somphone Five Years On

This press conference was held at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand on 07 December 2017. Speakers included:

Ng Shui Meng: Former Deputy Representative for UNICEF Laos 2000 to 2004; wife of Sombath Somphone

Charles Santiago: Member of Parliament, Selangor Malaysia; Chairperson, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Anne-Sophie Gindroz: Former Country Director of Helvetas; author of “Laos, the Silent Repression”

Moderator: Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch Asia Division

The full video can be seen here.

Sombath Somphone Five Years On

Press Conference: Sombath Somphone Five Years On: Demands for Truth and Justice Continue

And film Screening: The Disappearance of Sombath Somphone

10am and 6.30pm, Thursday December 07, 2017

Press Conference: Sombath Somphone Five Years On: Demands for Truth and Justice Continue

Time: 10 am-12 pm

Place: Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand

December 15th will mark five years since Sombath Somphone, Magsaysay Laureate and Lao civil society leader, was abducted in full view of traffic police and CCTV cameras on a busy Vientiane street. Lao Authorities maintain their investigation continues, even though they have provided no information either publicly or privately in four and one-half of those five years.

While donor support for the development of Lao civil society organisations has increased significantly, so have government restrictions, including numerous arrests, harsh sentences, and a more stringent decree on Non-Profit Associations in the past year alone. A climate of fear and self-censorship prevails among local groups, as well as donors and other international organisations.

Panelists will revisit the conditions surrounding Sombath’s enforced disappearance, and explore what has, and has not, happened since that time.

Speakers:

Ng Shui Meng: Former Deputy Representative for UNICEF Laos 2000 to 2004; wife of Sombath Somphone

Charles Santiago: Member of Parliament, Selangor Malaysia; Chairperson, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Anne-Sophie Gindroz: Former Country Director of Helvetas; author of “Laos, the Silent Repression”

Moderator: Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch Asia Division

 

Film Screening: The Disappearance of Sombath Somphone
Length: 53 minutes

Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm

Place: Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand

The Disappearance of Sombath Somphone” is a new documentary film [2017] that looks at Sombath’s life and times, and the events leading up to his disappearance in 2012. Featuring interviews with his wife, Shui-Meng Nag, Lao PDR historian Martin Stuart-Fox, and former European Union Ambassador to Lao PDR, David Lipman, and others.

The film will be introduced by Ng Shui Meng, wife of Sombath Somphone. The screening will be followed by an informal discussion.

Both events are co-organized by The Sombath Initiative, Human Rights Watch, FIDH, ICJ
and APHR.

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance: Human Rights Defenders & the Disappeared Justice

Co-organized by: Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), the Esaan Land Reform, Amnesty International Thailand, and United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commission South-East Asia Regional Office

In the absence of efficient mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders in Thailand, the cases of enforced disappearances ought to be addressed fairly and immediately. We, the organizers, would like to take this opportunity to commemorate and commend those who fearlessly stood up and defended the rights of others, but are no longer with us. Their legacy and engagement will continue to inspire all of us.

On the occasion of International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, which falls on August 30 each year, we wish to reaffirm the significance of the government’s role in promoting and protecting the people’s human rights in compliance with the international standards. In order to find sustainable solutions, this event is also set to provide the possibility for collaboration among all sectors working with the issues on human rights

Time and Location

Wednesday, 30th of August 2017 at 13.00 – 17.00 h, the Student Christian Center, Phayathai Rd, Thanon Phetchaburi, Ratchathewi, Bangkok

13.00 – 13.30 Registration
13.30 – 13.45 Welcoming remarks by representative of the OHCHR
13.45 – 14.30 ‘Den Kamlae and Forensic Evidence in the Cases of Enforced Disappearance’ by Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunan and the community representative Oranuch Phonpinyo
14.30 – 15.00 ‘The Path of Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances Act B.E. …’ by representative of the Ministry of Justice
15.00 – 16.00 A panel discussion on the topic of ‘Enforced Disappearance:

It Happens Everywhere, and the Limited Prosecution Resources under Vague Legislations’ by representative of HRLA, Ankana Neelapaijit and Pinnapha Prueksapan
The Jurisdiction of the Department of Special Investigation and Cases of Enforced Disappearance by representative of the Department of Special Investigation
The Jurisdiction of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and Human Rights Defenders by Dr. Niran Pitakwatchara Commissioner of the 2nd batch of NHRC

16.00 – 16.30 Q & A
16.45 The organizers read the joint statement on the occasion of International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance

NOTE: Thai-English translation will be provided throughout the event

Who will choose Lao ACSC/APF participants?

While the Lao PDR was not able to host the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum last year, applications for participants from Laos to this year’s event in Manila are open.

Criteria include (unofficial English translation):

  1. ​ເປັນພົນລະເມືອງລາວທີ່ມາຈາກອົງການຈັດຕັ້ງຕ່າງໆ, ສະມາຄົມ ແລະ ມຸນນິທິ​ ທີ່ມີ​ຄວາມສົນໃຈກ່ຽວກັບວຽກງານພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ. Lao citizen from various organisations (associations and foundations) with an interest in ASEAN civil society work.
  2. ເປັນຜູ້ທີ່ມີຄວາມສາມາດໃນການສື່ສານ ແລະ ເຂົ້າໃຈພາສາອັງກິດດີສົມຄວນ. Reasonably able to communicate in and understand English.
  3. ເປັນຜູ້ທີ່ມີຄວາມເຂົ້າໃຈດີສົມຄວນ​ກ່ຽວກັບວຽກງານ​ຂອງອົງການຈັດຕັ້ງທາງສັງຄົມ ແລະ ວຽກງານເວທີ​ພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ. Appropriate knowledge of the work of social-sector organisations and ASEAN fora.
  4. ຜູ້ທີ່ມີປະສົບການຜ່ານຈາກກອງປະຊຸມ​ເວທີພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ ແລະ ເຂົ້າຮ່ວມກິດຈະກຳ​ພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ ຫລື ຢູຣົບ ແມ່ນຈະໄດ້ຮັບພິຈາລະນາພິເສດ. Those with past experience at the ACSC/APF and attendance at activities for ASEAN or European forums will be give special consideration.
  5. ເປັນຜູ້ທີ່ມີ​ເວລາເພື່ອເຂົ້າຮ່ວມ ແລະ ປະກອບສ່ວນເຂົ້າກິດຈະກຳຕ່າງໆຢູ່ພາຍໃນ ແລະວຽກ​ງານພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນຢ່າງຫ້າວຫັນ. Sufficient time to attend and activitely participate in various internal and ASEAN civil society actvities.
  6. ເປັນຜູ້ທີ່ມີຄວາມສາມາດກຸ້ມຕົນເອງໃນການໃຊ້ຈ່າຍເຂົ້າຮ່ວມກອງປະຊຸມເວທີ​ພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ​ຍິ່ງເປັນການດີ. Abilty to pay own costs for attending the ACSC/APF.

Applicants can send a letter of interest to assi…@lao-cso-network.org  before 23 June.

Participants will be selected by the APF Committee, although the makeup of this committee is not specified.

Apparently, members of Lao civil society who are not selected will not be allowed to attend.

Solidarity Message to Somchai Neelapaijit’s family

Somchai Neelapaijit’s enforced disappearance remains a disheartening reality that we continue to remember. The Sombath Initiative is honored to commemorate his noble efforts in defending the rights of the victims of human rights violations. His endeavors, which challenged the interests and official power of the perpetrators of those violations, in turn made him the victim of human rights violations. His enforced disappearance was done to intimidate and induce fear in people and in the human rights community in particular. His disappearance should not be seen as a loss; neither has it happened in vain. His sacrifice has inspired and continues to inspire us and the wider public to build on and live up to his legacy, especially in eradicating enforced disappearance and in the struggle for genuine freedom and justice amidst the socially and structurally-entrenched widespread human rights violations and culture of impunity that continue to persist.

The Sombath Initiative reaffirms our solidarity with the Neelapaijit family and all the victims of enforced disappearance and their families. We proclaim our commitment to end this heinous crime against humanity and all forms of human rights violations. Our struggles shall endure until justice for the missing loved ones is served and human rights of all people are respected and protected.

In solidarity,

The Sombath Initiative

11 March, 2017

Where is Somchai? 13 Years

Event marking 13 years since the disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit. The Somchai Neelapaijit Award will also be announced.

11 March 2017: 9:00 AM to 12:45 PM

Pri Banomyong Institute, Thonglor, Bangkok, Thailand

The Tragedy of Enforced Disappearances

Sombath Somphone and the Tragedy of Enforced Disappearances: A Press Conference and Interactive Dialogue was held at the FCCT in Bangkok, Thailand on 19 December 2016. Panelists included:

    • Pinnipa Preuksapan, wife of Pholachi “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, ethnic Karen land and rights activist
    • Angkhana Neelapaijit, Commissioner, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, and wife of activist lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit
    • Shui-Meng Ng, wife of Sombath Somphone

The event was hosted by the Sombath Initiative moderated by Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch.

Video of the event can be seen in four parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Sombath Somphone: Son of the Soil

padect-fair-20162016 PADETC Fair

Thursday, 15th December 2016

PADETC Office, Vientiane, Lao PDR

15 December 2016 marks the fourth year of the disappearance of Sombath Somphone, Founder of PADETC.

To commemorate Ajarn Sombath Somphone, PADETC will organize its Annual Fair under the title ‘Sombath Somphone – Son of the Soil’.

 

ASEAN in Laos: Challenges of Leadership, Human Rights & Democracy

Press conference held at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand on 31 August, 2016, Bangkok 

RFA-FCCT-2016

Panelists included (click on link for their presentation):

  • Shui Meng Ng, Spouse of Sombath Somphone
  • Walden Bello, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
  • Laurent Meillan, Acting Regional Representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

With moderation by Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch.

Video of the press conference is available in three segments: One, two & three.

The following press briefings were also distributed:

ASEAN in Laos: Challenges of Leadership, Human Rights and Democracy

ASEAN logo 2016Press conference at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand

11am, Wednesday 31 August, 2016, Bangkok 

At a time when ASEAN is witnessing an alarming increase in human rights abuses, restrictions on civil liberties, and a shrinking of democratic space in a number of its member states, what kind of example does this year’s ASEAN Chair, Laos, set for the regional bloc?

The enforced disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone in December 2012, ongoing arbitrary detentions, and extremely tight controls on the media and civil society have instilled an environment of fear, silence, and repression in Laos. Little news about the serious human rights abuses occurring in the country ever comes out in the media, allowing the continued violation of basic liberties.

Despite this repressive environment, foreign aid and investment continue to flow into Laos. Continue reading “ASEAN in Laos: Challenges of Leadership, Human Rights and Democracy”