Since December 15 last year, when Lao social activist and Magsaysay Award winner Sombath Somphone went missing, his wife Ng Shui Meng has spent most of her time campaigning and working to ensure his safe return. It’s a daily struggle that so far has reaped no reward.
Sombath was last seen driving his jeep in Vientiane, where he was stopped at a police post and then driven away in a pickup truck by unidentified men.
Members of Sombath’s family, including his 85-year-old mother, are of course desperately concerned about his fate. His ageing and weak mother was still hoping to see her eldest son during Songkran, the traditional New Year festival also celebrated in Laos.
It is difficult for Shui Meng to explain to her mother-in-law why that Sombath appears to have been abducted, and why those in power are reluctant to help find him or offer any theory on his disappearance.
Born into a poor family in Ban Don Khio, central Khammouane province, Sombath spent most of his early life struggling with poverty, hunger and insecurity. He and his family had to seek refuge during the Indochina war in the 1960s. Like many others, Sombath was fortunate to get the opportunity to leave Laos and permanently settle in another country. However, he chose to return home and work for the better development of his country and people. Continue reading “Editorial: Missing Activist’s Family Deserves Help and Answers”