We, the undersigned 62 regional and international organizations, express outrage over the Lao Government’s ongoing failure to shed light on the enforced disappearance of prominent activist and civil society leader Sombath Somphone.
62 Non-governmental organizations have released a statement calling for a new investigation into the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone.
Signatories include NGOs from all ASEAN countries, except Brunei and Laos. The full statement is available in English here, and in Chinese here.
One Year On, Sombath Somphone Remains Forcibly Disappeared
“On the one-year anniversary of Sombath Somphone’s abduction, Prime Minister Abe should break Japan’s public silence and call upon the Lao government to reveal the truth about Sombath’s fate. Japan’s words carry weight since it is the largest donor to Laos. Prime Minister Abe should use this leverage to send a strong message to the Lao leadership that it needs to stop ignoring the pleas to reveal what happened to Sombath.” Kanae Doi, Japan director
(Tokyo) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan should raise concerns about the enforced disappearance of a prominent civil society leader in the prime minister’s meeting with Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong at the Japan-Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International Japan, Mekong Watch, Empowerment For All Japan, and two other Japanese nongovernmental organizations said today in a joint letter to Prime Minister Abe.
The Japan-ASEAN Summit, scheduled from December 13-15, 2013, falls during the one-year anniversary of the abduction and forcible disappearance of Sombath Somphone, a recipient of the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. Sombath was taken into custody by authorities at a checkpoint outside a police station in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, on December 15, 2012. Continue reading “Japan: Raise Concerns About Abducted Lao Activist”
Sombath Somphone went missing three months ago after being stopped at a police post. Human rights organizations allege he was ‘disappeared’ by the authorities
On Saturday, December 15, 2012 at six o’clock in the evening Sombath Somphone and his wife Ng Shui Meng left work in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. They travelled home in separate cars, agreeing to meet for dinner.
However, Sombath never arrived. Ng Shui Meng lost sight of his jeep near a police post on Thadeua Road.
Security camera footage shows what happened next. The activist was stopped by police and taken into the post. A few minutes later a motorcyclist stopped and drove off in Sombath’s jeep. Then a truck came; two people got out, took Sombath and drove off with him. He has not been seen since. His phone can also not be tracked down.
Government is not credible
Relatives and friends of the activist have come up against a wall of silence. Although the government of the one-party state officially says they are looking into his disappearance, human rights organizations believe the authorities are involved.
On December 19, the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement confirming the incidents as recorded on the security camera, but claimed he was kidnapped for personal or business reasons.