Activists Protest Laos’ Rights Record at UN Meeting in Geneva

Radio Free Asia: 21 January 2020

“Speakers and protesters at Tuesday’s meeting in Geneva repeatedly mentioned the disappearance of rural development expert Sombath Somphone in December 2012.”

Dozens of human rights activists held protests Tuesday in front of the headquarters of the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHCR) as the council conducted Laos’ Universal Periodic Review (UPR) meeting in Geneva.

Led by the Germany-based Alliance for Democracy in Laos, the crowd picketed the meeting in an attempt to draw attention to human rights abuses in Laos.

Speaking to RFA’s Lao Service, ADL President Bounthone Chanthalavong-Wiese said that Vientiane has not yet implemented the 116 recommendations it agreed to five years ago — the last time it was reviewed by the council. Continue reading “Activists Protest Laos’ Rights Record at UN Meeting in Geneva”

Don’t forget ‘disappeared’

Bangkok Post: 21 December 2019

One year ago this month, Thai activist Surachai Danwattananusorn disappeared mysteriously from his residence in the Lao capital of Vientiane, while the bodies of his two aides were found in the Mekong River. Also, seven years ago this month, Lao activist Sombath Somphone suffered a “forced disappearance” in Vientiane.

These men were all prominent critics of the state, and this is perhaps a good enough explanation as to why neither the Thai and Lao governments have managed to unearth the truth behind the disappearances and killings.

Mr Surachai fled Thailand a few days before the 2014 coup and lived in exile in Vientiane to avoid being thrown behind bars for alleged lese majeste offences. He was followed by his aides, Chatchan Bupphawan and Kraidej Luelert, who used their time in Laos to criticise the military junta and the institution. Continue reading “Don’t forget ‘disappeared’”

Denuncian impunidad en desapariciones forzadas en Tailandia

El Siglo de Torreón: 18 December 2019

Numerosas víctimas de diferentes países asiáticos han sido contabilizadas por lo menos 20 años

Activistas y familiares de desaparecidos forzados denunciaron este martes en Bangkok la impunidad con que este crimen se comete en el sudeste asiático, donde hay decenas de casos sin resolver en medio de un ambiente de “miedo”.

Así lo expresaron en una conferencia sobre desapariciones forzadas celebrada con motivo del séptimo aniversario de la desaparición del activista laosiano Sombath Somphone, que continúa en paradero desconocido desde que fue detenido en un control policial en diciembre de 2012 en Vientián. Continue reading “Denuncian impunidad en desapariciones forzadas en Tailandia”

Still No Progress on Seventh Anniversary of Sombath Somphone’s Disappearance

Radio Free Asia: 17 December 2019

Ng Shui Meng, wife of Sombath Somphone, who has been missing for seven years in what is widely believed to be an enforced disappearance, attends a press conference on Dec. 17, 2019. RFA

The wife of a missing Lao activist told a gathering to mark seven years since his disappearance that she has not heard any information from Lao authorities about his case in more than two years and believes they “stopped searching long ago.”

Sombath Somphone, who disappeared on Dec. 15, 2012—exactly seven years ago Sunday—when police stopped him in his vehicle at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the capital Vientiane.

Before his abduction, Sombath had challenged massive land deals negotiated by the government that had left thousands of rural Lao villagers homeless with little paid in compensation. The deals sparked rare popular protests in Laos, where political speech is tightly controlled. Continue reading “Still No Progress on Seventh Anniversary of Sombath Somphone’s Disappearance”

Seit sieben Jahren ist der Bürgerrechtler Sombath Somphone verschwunden – die Regierung von Laos hat darauf keine Antwort



Neue Zürcher Zeitung: 15 Dezember 2019

Obwohl die laotischen Behörden versprochen haben, den Fall aufzuklären, gibt es keine Ergebnisse. Bald werden sie vor der Uno dazu Stellung nehmen müssen.

Wenige Wochen nachdem Sombath Somphone verschwunden ist, hängt ein Unterstützer im Januar 2013 in der laotischen Hauptstadt Vientiane ein Poster mit dem Porträt des Vermissten auf. Gilles Sabrie / LightRocket / Getty

Es ist dunkel. Die Aufnahmen der Überwachungskamera sind körnig und unscharf. Dennoch ist zu erkennen, wie ein Jeep vor einem Polizeiposten in der laotischen Hauptstadt Vientiane anhält. Der Fahrer steigt aus und geht in den Posten. Wenig später kommt der Mann wieder aus dem Polizeiposten, nun in Begleitung zweier Personen. Sie steigen in einen weissen Geländewagen, der davonbraust, noch bevor die Türen geschlossen sind. Continue reading “Seit sieben Jahren ist der Bürgerrechtler Sombath Somphone verschwunden – die Regierung von Laos hat darauf keine Antwort”

As 7th Anniversary of Lao Activist’s Disappearance Approaches, More Remain Missing

Radio Free Asia: 13 December 2019

As families and rights groups prepare to mark the seventh anniversary Sunday of prominent Lao activist Sombath Somphone’s disappearance, the families of two other missing activists are lamenting the lack of answers from the communist government on their loved ones.

Sombath Somphone, who disappeared on Dec. 15, 2012 when police stopped him in his vehicle at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the capital Vientiane, will be remembered at an event in Bangkok, Thailand next week. Continue reading “As 7th Anniversary of Lao Activist’s Disappearance Approaches, More Remain Missing”

Zeven jaar spoorloos in Laos

NPO Radio: 13 december 2019

(Klik op de link hierboven voor audio}

Komende zondag is het precies zeven jaar geleden dat daar in het Aziatische staatje Laos de activist Sombáth Somphòne spoorloos verdween. Sombáth verliet zijn land in de jaren zeventig, toen de communistische partij er de macht overnam, maar keerde er weer terug om aan de slag te gaan als maatschappelijk werker en zich in te zetten voor duurzaamheid. Blijkbaar heeft hij daarbij vijanden gemaakt. Sombáth werd voor het laatst gezien vlakbij een politiepost in de hoofdstad. Zuidoost-Azië correspondent Kris Janssens zocht zijn vrouw op, die al zeven jaar leeft tussen hoop en wanhoop.

Laos democrats fight a lonely losing struggle

Asia Times: 27 November 2019

Sombath Somphone, a well-known civil society organizer, is the most famous “forced disappearance” in Laos.

International community muted amid another anti-democratic clampdown in communist-run Laos

A small demonstration of a few dozen people advocating for human rights was set to take place in the Lao capital of Vientiane on November 11, in what would have been a rare protest in the repressive one-party state.

However, authorities swooped in and arrested eight would-be protesters before they could take to the streets. There are unconfirmed reports that dozens more associated with the thwarted demonstration may be missing.

Demonstrations are highly uncommon in Laos, which has been ruled by the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, a repressive communist party, since 1975. Only a handful of pro-democracy protests have ever taken place under communist rule, most lasting only minutes before being broken up by authorities. Continue reading “Laos democrats fight a lonely losing struggle”

Asia’s Disappearing Activists

The Diplomat: 30 August 2019

“In Southeast Asia, the enforced disappearance of Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone in 2012 continues to be an emblematic case.”

Since June 2019, over a million people have taken to the streets of Hong Kong on a weekly basis to demonstrate. Protesters have faced attacks and injuries as police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray to quell protests.

The original target of the protests was a proposed change to Hong Kong’s extradition law. Hong Kongers’ fear of the bill is justifiable. Amendments to the Fugitives Offenders Ordinance Bill would allow individuals, including human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society activists, to be sent to mainland China to face trial, even if the person was outside the mainland when the crime was committed. China’s justice system is notorious for its lack of independence from the government, and the Chinese Communist Party has a record of arbitrary detention, torture, and fabricating legal cases against activists and journalists. Continue reading “Asia’s Disappearing Activists”

Wife, Rights Organizations Remember Missing Lao Activist on International Day of the Disappeared

Radio Free Asia: 30 August 2019

Artwork displayed at an event in Bangkok, Thailand to commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30, 2019.

Sombath Somphone, a Lao activist who has been missing for seven years amid stonewalling by his country’s communist government, was commemorated in Bangkok on Friday, the International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

Sombath Somphone disappeared on Dec. 15, 2012, when police stopped him in his vehicle at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Vientiane. He was then transferred to another vehicle, according to a police surveillance video, and has not been heard from since.

Continue reading “Wife, Rights Organizations Remember Missing Lao Activist on International Day of the Disappeared”