Humanity & Nature: Traditional, Cultural & Alternative Perspectives

Sombath Symposium-2016-02Public Forum

February 17, 2016, 9.30 am–12.30 pm

Ruan Chula Narumit, Chulalongkorn University

This public forum will share the key lessons and conclusions from the Sombath Symposium, a three day event which aims to exchange and explore various traditional, cultural and alternative perspectives on how humans value and interact with nature.

Participants of symposium will come from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, The Philippines, Indonesia, and India, and represent a wide range of ethnic, cultural, religious and vocational backgrounds and perspectives.

The forum will also be joined by local community and activists from Thailand to contribute to the discussion on their struggles to protect the nature and livelihood.

Organised by Focus on the Global South and the Sombath Initiative, in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation

English-Thai-English translation will be provided

Lunch will be served at 12:30 at SASA International House

For more information about this event and to confirm attendance please contact Hamdee Tohming at [email protected] or 089-004-4117.

Whose Vision? Whose Reality?

December 17th, 2015
Time: 14:00-17:00
DIPAK C.JAIN room, SASA International House, Chulalongkorn University

15-12-17-SI Panel2016 will be an important year for ASEAN, as it promises to turn its “vision” into a “reality”. Its chairmanship will be with the Lao PDR, where civil society organizations in the recent ACSC/APF agreed they will not hold their 2016 gathering. This forum aims to draw attention and give different perspectives to this so-called ASEAN “Reality” and “Vision” of a “Dynamic Community”.


  • Angkhana Neelapaijit, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
  • Kraisak Choonhavan, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
  • Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch
  • Supalak Ganjanakhundee, the Nation

Moderator: Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South
For more information: Hamdee, 0890044117, [email protected]

Three Years On: Demanding Answers for the Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone in Laos

10:30 am, Monday, December 14, 2015

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT)

Three years ago, on December 15, Magsaysay award winner and acclaimed community development leader Sombath Somphone was detained at a police checkpoint in Vientiane, Laos, and then disappeared by state authorities. Since then, the Lao police and government authorities have consistently failed to seriously investigate the case, and continue to unpersuasively claim ignorance of Sombath’s whereabouts.

Yet evidence is still being uncovered, and on the 3rd anniversary of his enforced disappearance, new CCTV camera footage — obtained from the area where Sombath was abducted on the day that Sombath vanished into state custody – will be made public.

A panel of speakers will also provide the latest updates on Sombath’s case and the international campaign to demand answers from the Lao PDR government.

Speakers include:

  • Angkhana Neelaipaijit,Thai National Human Rights Commissioner, Justice for Peace Foundation and Sombath Initiative
  • Sam Zarifi, International Commission of Jurists
  • Laurent Meillan, UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights
  • Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch

For more information, please call +66-85-060-8406, or email: [email protected]

Please join our writing contest!

Logo-Sombath InitiativeThe Sombath Initiative is sponsoring a writing contest about issues in Laos. Any age or nationality can enter, but Lao youth are especially encouraged to apply.

Essays should be about any one of the following topics (Please select one topic only):

  • Sustainable development in Laos
  • Youth and education in Laos
  • Civil society in Laos

Entries should be in either Lao or English, and between 500 to 1,000 words (approximately 2-3 pages) in length.
Three prizes will be awarded for both Lao and English (six total prizes):

  • $300 for first prize
  • $200 for second prize
  • $100 for third prize

Following the philosopSombath-Bamboohy of Sombath Somphone, essays that are positive and inspiring will be given preference over those that are critical or negative.
Winning essays will be posted on the  website, Facebook and Google+ If contestants request, their name will not be included with the posting.

Entries must be sent to [email protected] no later than January 31st, 2016. Winning contestants will be notified by email.

Thank you, and we look forward to your thoughts!

1,000 Days without Justice

Press conference and panel discussion

10:30 am, Friday September 11, 2015

Note: This event will be streamed live on:

FIDH-LogoOn the evening of December 15, 2015, police stopped prominent Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone at a police checkpoint on a busy street of Vientiane. Shortly after being stopped, CCTV footage showed that unknown individuals forced Sombath into another vehicle and drove away while police looked on. Sombath was never seen again. His fate or whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

September 11, 2015, marks 1,000 days since Sombath disappeared. During these 1,000 days, what has been done to safely return Sombath? What have been the domestic and regLogo-Sombath Initiativeional 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 is the spouse of Sombath Somphone and a member of the Advisory Board of the Sombath Initiative.

Mr. Kingsley Abbott is the International Legal Advisor for Southeast Asia for the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and a former Senior Legal Officer with the United Nations at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit is the founder and President of the Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF), a member of the Advisory Board of the Sombath Initiative, and a nominee to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT).

Ms. Debbie Stothard is the Secretary-General of FIDH, the Coordinator of ALTSEAN-Burma, and the Co-Chair of the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum/ASEAN Civil Society Conference (APF/ACSC) Media Committee.

Help pressure the Lao PDR to accept the UPR recommendations!

Get InvolvedAt the Universal Periodic Review for Laos in January, 19 nations* raised the issues of enforced disappearance and ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforce Disappearance, with ten of these addressing Sombath’s case directly.

This show of support is unprecedented, yet real impact will only be achieved if the Lao government accepts and follows through on these recommendations.

Please help to press your government in urging the Lao government to do just that.

See this Letter the Sombath Initiative is sending to all 19 countries’ mission to the United Nations in Geneva. The text of each recommendation is included in the letter, and contact information for all missions can be found here.

Below are the recommendations for those ten countries specifically mentioning Sombath in graphic format. Please share them among friends, colleagues and on social media. Thank you for your support!

*Our sincere apologies. There were 20 countries. Brazil recommended that the Lao PDR should:

121.24. Ratify the ICPPED and adopt implementing legislation, as well as mechanisms to independently investigate and identify perpetrators of those crimes (Brazil);

UPR Recommendation-Australia

UPR Recommendation-Canada

UPR Recommendation-Finland

UPR Recommendation-Germany

UPR Recommendation-Luxembourg

UPR Recommendation-Poland

UPR Recommendation-Portugal

UPR Recommendation-Sweden

UPR Recommendation-United Kingdom

Letters to Sombath…

Dear Friends,

While some have chosen to silence Sombath for the time being, others are striving to sustain his voice and vision for his people and country.  To facilitate these efforts, we would like to invite friends and colleagues to write letters to Sombath.

These letters can be about Sombath, about his work, or about his approach, ideas and ideals. Letters can be in any language, but preference will be given to Lao and English. While there are no strict limits on length, three to five hundred words is suggested.

Letters should reflect Sombath’s way of working: positive and caring messages will be given preference over those that are negative or accusatory. While suggestions are welcome, they should be constructive and feasible.

Please also include your name. If you write anonymously, your letter may not be used. Selected letters will be posted on this website, and/or on the Sombath Initiative Facebook page.

Most importantly, please direct your message to Sombath. The purpose is to sustain his voice, not to promote our own or provoke arguments.

Messages can be sent to [email protected]. Thank you very much, and we look forward to your letters.

Ng Shui Meng


Amnesty calls for Urgent Action

Amnesty_InternationalAmnesty International has issued a further Urgent Action, calling on its global membership to:

…write immediately in Lao, English or your own language calling on the Lao authorities to:

  • Immediately establish a new, independent commission to undertake a thorough and impartial investigation into the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone, and ensure that all steps are taken to locate and return him safely to his family as soon as possible, in accordance with Laos’ obligations under international law;
  • Ensure that this new commission seeks technical assistance for its investigations, including established experts to carry out a forensics analysis of the CCTV footage of the disappearance;
  • Frequently provide detailed information about the progress of the investigations to Sombath’s family, lawyers and others with a legitimate interest.

The full appeal with contact details can be found here.  Deutsch Sprache