Sombath Somphone, 6 years on

Disappeared in Laos but not forgotten in ASEAN

10:30am, Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC), Bangkok

Friends of BACC room, 6th floor

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)

6th PADETC Fair

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.

Sombath Symposium on Development and Human Rights

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.

Declaration of AEPF 12

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

https://www.aepf.info/aepf-12-statement

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.

Continue reading “Declaration of AEPF 12”

12th AEPF held in Ghent, Belgium

“The disappearance of Sombath (co-organizer of the AEPF event in 2012) 6 years back along with the political situation in Thailand, Cambodia & Myanmar are the urgent issues we need to address.”

Andy Rutherford, International Organising Committee member at the opening session of the 12th AEPF, 29 October 2018.

“As long as I am alive, I won’t remain silent. I will speak. If this could happen to Sombath, it could happen to anyone. I want all of you to be the voice in your community.”

Ng Shui Meng, wife of Sombath Somphone, at same event.

The Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone

Filmvorführung und Podiumsdiskussion

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)
  • Moderation: Daniel Hitzig, Alliance Sud

Invitation: Sombath Somphone Public Lecture

All are cordially invited to join  the Sombath Somphone public lecture at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday, 02 August.

The lecture will be delivered by Seng Raw Lahpai, Founder, Metta Development Foundation, Myanmar.

Like Sombath, Seng Raw is a laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

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.