Third letter from Sombath’s wife

Third Appeal to the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic 

Ng Shui Meng, Wife of Sombath Somphone, 30 January 2013

This is my third appeal to the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to release information or results of investigation of the disappearance of my husband, Sombath Somphone, on the evening of 15 December 2012.

Today is the 45th day since my husband’s disappearance and I have done all I can to cooperate with the police and provided information to assist the investigation and find my husband as quickly as possible.  I have also met with the National Assembly Vice-President and his staff to appeal to the National Assembly, as the representatives of the people, to urge the police to expedite the investigation.  But all these efforts have not yielded any concrete information related to the progress of the investigation, other than statements that “the police are still investigating”.

There are still no answers to my queries regarding:

  1. What did the police manning the police post the evening of Sombath’s disappearance on 15 December 2012 said what happened that night, and what did they see?
  2. Whether the motorcyclist who drove away Sombath’s jeep has been identified?
  3. Has Sombath’s jeep (License plate No.: 2624) been found?
  4. Whether the white truck with flashing lights that stopped at the police post and took my husband away been identified?
  5. Has the driver of the white truck who drove away with my husband been questioned?
  6. If the footages were too blurry, as claimed by the police, has the Ministry of Public Security sought technical assistance from any other government or international security agencies? Are they too blurry for the entire Tha Deua Road CCTV cameras?
  7. Has the Lao police issued an Interpol Yellow Notification to inform colleagues in the region about Sombath’s disappearance and sought their assistance?

To all these questions I have not had any satisfactory answers. Continue reading “Third letter from Sombath’s wife”

An Open Letter to all Lao Groups

By Ng Shui Meng (Wife of Sombath Somphone)

25 January 2013

Since the disappearance of Sombath Somphone on 15 December 2012 in front of a police check-point at KM 3 Thadeua Road, many Lao people living inside and outside the country have expressed openly or in private their shock and sympathy to me and my family and have sent wishes for Sombath’s safe return.  To you all, I want to say a “BIG THANK YOU”.

Sombat at Ramon Magsasay Award CeremonyHowever, there are also some Lao groups or individuals who have used the very sad event of Sombath’s disappearance to spread harmful rumors or outright lies about Sombath for their own political or private purposes.

I would like to once and for all put to rest many of these lies and harmful rumors:

  1. Sombath is not affiliated with any political groups in-country or outside the country as implied by some comments or assertions on some websites.  Sombath loves Laos and the Lao people, and he fully supports the development vision of the Lao Government as expressed in the Lao National Economic and Social Development Plan.  As a private Lao citizen, he sees his role as supporting the Lao Government to implement its development plan, especially at the community level.  He has done so for the past 30 years, and he has worked tirelessly to try to improve the lives of Lao people, especially those living in rural areas, by contributing his knowledge and skills, and always working in consultation and in collaboration with the people and the government.
  2. Sombath is a Lao citizen and has no dual nationality.  He only holds a Lao passport.
  3. Sombath has not misused any funds in connection with any project or program.  He has not absconded any money from any project or program as has been rumored as the reason for his disappearance.

Dear Fellow Lao, please remember

SOMBATH IS NOT A CAUSE, HE IS A HUMAN BEING WHOSE LIFE AND WELL- BEING CAN BE HARMED BY YOUR ACTIONS INTENDED OR OTHERWISE.

An Open Letter to Sombath’s Well-­Wishers

From Ng Shui Meng, wife of Sombath Somphone

Since Sombath disappearance on the evening of 15 December 2012, my family and I have been touched by the great love, concern and support shown by friends, colleagues, international and regional agencies, civil society groups, government spokespersons, and Sombath with Tutu (cropped)the media who have joined hands to urge the Government of the Lao PDR to invest all their resources and capacities in their ongoing investigation of Sombath’s whereabouts, and to return him safely to me and to my family. We are most grateful and deeply touched by such show of solidarity for Sombath’s well-­‐ being.

While many articles and statements written about Sombath’s disappearance and urging his safe return have been helpful, some of the reports and comments also contain some factual errors or speculations. My greatest wish is the personal safety and well-­‐being of my husband, Sombath, wherever he is. For this reason, I urge all well-‐wishers not to stray away from the facts or to misrepresent Sombath or the nature of his work.

The facts as I know them

  1. Sombath was last seen on 15 December 2012 driving in his jeep behind my vehicle. We were both going home to dinner. The last time I saw him from my rear view mirror was around 6:00 p.m. near the police post on KM 3 on Thadeua Road.
  2. When he did not return home that night, we searched for Sombath’s whereabouts around the area where he was last seen and also searched the city’s hospital in the hope of finding Sombath, but to no avail.
  3. On 16 December, we reported Sombath missing to the village, district and police authorities. Family searches were once more carried out in all the city’s hospitals, but there was no sign of Sombath.
  4. On 17 December 2012, a request was made to the Vientiane Municipality Police Station to view the close circuit TV footages recorded by CCTV cameras near the police post where Sombath was last seen. The police officers on duty were very cooperative and allowed us to view the CCTV footages. From the TV footages, we saw Sombath stopped by the police at the police post. We saw Sombath get out of his jeep and enter into the police post.
  5. Later a motorcyclist came by, parked the motorcycle near the jeep, running into the police post and later emerged and drove Sombath’s jeep away.
  6. After a few minutes, a white truck with flashing lights stopped by the police post and two or three people were seen getting into the vehicle which drove off in a hurry. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Sombath’s Well-­Wishers”

"My husband is not a dissident"

The wife of Sombath Somphone was interviewed on Australian radio today, emphasizing that her husband  is a development worker who is interested in helping his country, and that he has always worked closely with the government.

Prominent Lao activist still missing

ABC Radio, 04 January 2013

This weekend marks three weeks since the disappearance of the respected Lao community leader, teacher and social activist Sombath Somphone.Well known in the region, he received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for his work.

Sombath Somphone has not been heard of since being taken away from a police checkpoint in the capital, Vientiane.

The government has denied any involvement, hinting at a possible business or personal conflict as the reason for his disappearance.

Presenter:  Tom Fayle

Speaker:   Ng Shui Meng, who’s high-profile activist husband Sombath Somphone has been missing in Laos for almost three weeks

NG: I have not heard any news apart from the government statement which was issued on the 19th and a visit to the police station I have not heard anything since.

FAYLE: Now have the authorities been maintaining contact with you?

NG: The police department has called me for a short interview on the 26th of December and since then they have not been in contact with me.

FAYLE: Now would you describe your husband as a dissident in any form?

Sombath-asiaoneNG: No my husband is not a dissident, he is a very low-profile social development worker interested in helping the country, teaching young people in community service, empowering them, teaching them leadership skills, working with the monks and working with students. He is not at all an activist or a dissident in any way. He has worked closely with the government and with approval of government for every project he has done. So he’s not at all an activist, he always believes that as a Lao citizen he wants to support the government to help develop the country. Continue reading “"My husband is not a dissident"”

An appeal from Sombath’s niece

To anyone,

My uncle, Mr. Sombath Somphone, has been missing since December 15th 2012 in Vientiane, Laos. Till now, our family still haven’t got any news about where he is, who has him, why he was taken (kidnapped?), how can we get him back. So depressed and so stressful for our family and all the people who know my uncle so well. We don’t know what to do.

Please-return-SombathThere’s rumor that many people have been told not to talk about him. Many people are even scared to contact with our family. Many people have told that this is very dangerous case. If you don’t know my uncle well, you will believe in that. Repectfully, to those who believe in that, for the entire life of me and my family and friends, we don’t see any thing that he has done wrong to any body. He’s just a normal person who cares so much about the future of his own country and the lives of the next generation. He have been working so hard in his entire life not to gain fame, but with a truly caring heart to help our country as much as he can do. What other people around the world said about him recently is the evident. We cannot control or force anyone to say that’s he’s good or bad. All his works since the past and the respect from people around the world have already shown us all.
If anyone know what he has done wrong. Please, please let us know. Continue reading “An appeal from Sombath’s niece”