The enforced disappearances of Sombath Somphone, Jonas Burgos and Somchai and dozens of Southeast Asian activists highlight ASEAN’s insincerity in protecting the human rights of its peoples. Its failure to meaningfully respond to these cases is immoral and unjust, especially to the families of the victims. For the nth time, we strongly urge ASEAN to instruct its representatives in the regional human rights body, AICHR, to investigate these cases and formulate recommendations that will punish the perpetrators and eliminate cases of enforced disappearances. The true test of the legitimacy of AICHR and ASEAN’s commitment to human rights is when they finally act on these cases and help in the elimination of rights abuses in the region.
Academics of the Australian National University on Thursday submitted a letter to the diplomatic mission of Thailand in Canberra marking the tenth anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Thai human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit.
The 23 scholars said they lamented that nobody had been held responsible for Somchai’s abduction on 12 March 2004 and presumed killing, even though five police were accused of the crime, and that to date his remains had not been recovered.
“We are especially concerned by indications that the DSI wants to close the investigation, since it will make the prospects that Mr Somchai’s family will ever obtain justice even less likely,” they said, referring to the Department of Special Investigation, under the justice ministry.
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.
Pratubjit Neelapaijit is coping with the uncertain fate of her father by speaking out for the disappeared
Pratubjit Neelapaijit considers herself part of Bangkok’s middle class through and through. Growing up listening to her father, the disappeared lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, and mother Angkhana discussing human rights violations and social issues, the young Pratubjit felt compassionate yet detached.
But life is a series of unexpected incidents – despite her lack of inclination at a younger age, Pratubjit has found herself engaging in activism.
“I was not into human rights issues much when I was a kid,” she said. “Partly I always thought that I was in the middle class in Bangkok and human rights violations happened with ethnic minorities, like hilltribe people and farmers. I believed I was middle class, so this type of problem would not happen to me.” Continue reading “An accidental activist”
Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s designated successor the Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, has been missing for nearly two decades.
In Thailand, Somchai Neelapaijit, the chairman of the Thai Muslim Lawyers Association, disappeared nine years ago while providing legal assistance to Muslims accused of involvement in violence against security forces in the country’s troubled south.
More recently, a prominent Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who has been critical of the government’s policies for the poor, vanished after being stopped at a police checkpoint.
In all three cases, governments are believed to be behind the disappearances.