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.


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.

Sombath’s Work

This website is being slowly upgraded, including the page on Sombath’s Work. Any additional links, materials, media, comments and/or corrections will be greatly appreciated.

Many would like to forget Sombath and his work, and return to the status quo. Please help prevent that by sending your contributions to [email protected]

Friends and colleagues of Sombath are also encouraged to write Letters to Sombath.

Finally, can anyone identify the year and occasion of this picture?

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

AFSC calls on US President

AFSC:AF 25 August 2016

The American Friends Service Committee has called on US President Barack Obama to raise issues on his upcoming trip to the Lao PDR:

1. Urge the new Lao Administration to publicly announce a renewed investigation into Sombath’s disappearance and to call for regional and international assistance on this unresolved case.

2. Urge Lao authorities to restore and increase safe public space for independent non- profit associations and independent local media.

The call to action can be found here, and the full letter here. (As point of clarification, the Sombath Initiative is not an American organisation.)

Is International Aid Complicit in the Repression in Laos?

LMHR logoThe Lao Movement for Human Rights has the honor of inviting you to a conference on:

”Is International assistance complicit in the repression in Laos?

Tuesday, June 14 at 15:00
Regional Council of Ile-de-France, room 100
33 rue Barbet-de-Jouy, 75007 Paris


  • Anne-Sophie Gindroz, author of the book ”Laos: the Silent Repression”
  • Richard Werly, France correspondent of the Swiss newspaper ‘Le Temps’
  • Vanida Thephsouvanh, President of the Lao Movement for Human Rights

For safety reasons, events taking place in the regional council hall, require prior registration.

An ID will be requested at the entrance.


Le Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l’Homme

A l’honneur de vous inviter à la conférence sur le thème

‘’L’aide internationale est-elle complice de la répression au Laos?’’

Mardi 14 juin à 15h00

Conseil régional d’Île-de-France, salle 100

33 rue Barbet-de-Jouy, 75007 Paris

Intervenants :

  • Anne-Sophie Gindroz, Auteur du livre ‘’ Laos : la répression silencieuse’’
  • Richard Werly, correspondant en France du journal suisse  ‘’Le Temps’’
  • Vanida Thephsouvanh, Présidente du Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l’Homme

Pour des raisons de sécurité, les manifestations qui se déroulent dans les salles du Conseil régional sont sur inscription obligatoire.  

Une pièce d’identité vous sera demandée à l’entrée.

Mrs Angkana launches signature collection campaign to demand revival of Somchai’s case

Thai Visa News: 22 April 2016

Angkana Neelaphaichit-22 April 2016

BANGKOK: — The widow of missing Muslim lawyer Somchai Nilapaichit has launched a signature collection campaign to demand the revival of the enforced disappearance case of her husband.

Mrs Angkana Nilapaichit, a member of the human rights committee of the Law Council of Thailand, told Post Today Online that the campaign through the social media,, which started a month ago has already collected about 17,000 signatures against her demand of at least 25,000 signatures.

Once the required signatures are collected, she said she would submit a petition accompanied by the list of signatures to Justice Minister Paiboon Kumchaya and six other persons to demand the revival of Mr Somchai’s case in an independent and transparent manner.

Somchai has disappeared without any traces about 12 years ago while he served as a defence lawyers for some of the suspected southern separatists. All the police officers charged with involvement in the lawyer’s disappearance have been acquitted.

Mrs Angkana said, besides the demand for the revival of the case, the signature campaign was intended to create public awareness about human rights, rights to safety and protection from enforced disappearance.

Note: The petition can be found here.