Dear Sombath…from Shui Meng (17)

My dearest Sombath

Today, February 14, is Valentine’s Day – a day to remind those who are dearest to us that they are loved and are precious.

Sombath, I know you never paid too much attention to Valentine’s Day because it is really not part of Lao’s cultural practice to celebrate the day.  I once teased you into buying me some flowers for Valentine’s Day, and you did that just to please me.  But you said, isn’t is better to grow flowers in the garden, take care of them and then we will have flowers all year round, rather than just flowers for Valentine’s Day! That’s you – always so practical, but also always thinking of what is truly important and valuable.  And indeed, that’s what you did in the garden – you always made sure we have flowers, fruits, and vegetables grown in the garden all year round.  Yes, you made sure that everyday we are surrounded by true love and not just a symbolic one.

And because you are so special, you are still remembered by the people who know and love you.  Today a friend brought me a special gift for you and I.  She brought me a Bodhi leaf from Sri-Lanka that was grown from a branch of the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha sat and meditated when he became enlightened.  Isn’t this the most befitting gift of love anyone could give to you and I on this day? When I look at that beautiful Bodhi leaf, it radiates the true nature of love and compassion. For me the Bodhi leaf is also a sign from you sending your love and reassuring me that you are fine.

So my love, with that assurance, I too am sending you a special message of love today. And not only today, but as with everyday since you were disappeared more than 6 years ago, I will continue to send you my prayers and love and best wishes for your good health, well-being and happiness – knowing that no matter where you are, you will spread love, kindness and wisdom to all around you.

Love you wherever you are.

Shui Meng

Wife of Sombath Somphone Calls Again on Laos for Answers to His Disappearance

Radio Free Asia: 12 December 2018

Six years after his disappearance at a Lao police checkpoint, the wife of rural development activist Sombath Somphone called again on the Lao government to account for his fate, saying she has been kept in the dark despite government promises to investigate his case.

“I am very sad that after six long years, I still have no news about Sombath,” Ng Shui Meng, a resident of Singapore, told RFA’s Lao Service in a phone call on Dec. 12.

“It’s the same situation,” Ng said.

“They keep saying that they cannot find Sombath, that they are still investigating,” she said. Continue reading “Wife of Sombath Somphone Calls Again on Laos for Answers to His Disappearance”

Six years on, wife of disappeared Laos activist ‘can’t move on’

Channel New Asia: 12 December 2018

Six years of searching have brought no answers and little solace to Sombath’s 72-year-old wife, Shui-Meng Ng AFP/CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT

BANGKOK: The wife of a prominent Laos activist who vanished after being stopped at a checkpoint on the streets of Vientiane said Wednesday (Dec 12) she “can’t move on” as the mystery over his fate remains unsolved almost six years later.

The disappearance of Sombath Somphone, an award-winning environmental campaigner, drew rare international attention to the poor rights record of Laos, an authoritarian one-party state where activists work under state scrutiny.

Sombath was last seen on the night of Dec 15, 2012, with CCTV cameras capturing the moment when police pulled him over at a checkpoint in the Laos capital. He was shown entering a separate truck with two other men and driven off.

His case cast a dark cloud over civil society in Laos and highlighted dangers faced by activists, journalists and human rights defenders in Southeast Asia who risk being targeted with impunity. Continue reading “Six years on, wife of disappeared Laos activist ‘can’t move on’”

Don’t forget Sombath, says Shui Meng Ng, wife of disappeared Laotian activist

SEA-Globe:  21 September 2018

The unsolved case of disappeared Laotian development worker Sombath Somphone is brought to light in a documentary that is screening at this year’s FreedomFilmFest in Malaysia

Sombath Somphone and wife Shui Meng Ng

Sombath Somphone was an internationally renowned development worker who disappeared nearly six years ago on the streets of Vientiane, Laos. CCTV footage suggests that the police snatched him. The case is still unsolved and the Lao police and government have continued to maintain their innocence in the matter.

The 2017 documentary film The Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone, directed by Rann Penn, will be screened at this year’s FreedomFilmFest, taking place in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

In the run up to the festival, which takes place between 29 September and 6 October, Southeast Asia Globe speaks with Shui Meng Ng, Sombath’s wife, to find out more about the man, the film and her quest for truth. Continue reading “Don’t forget Sombath, says Shui Meng Ng, wife of disappeared Laotian activist”

Brothers in belief and deeds

LaCroix: 03 September 2018

Separated by a generation, Jonas Burgos was abducted at 37 years old, Sombath Somphone a few months before turning 56

Filipino human rights activists call on the Lao government to surface Sombath Somphone, who went missing in Vientiane, Laos, in 2012. (Photo by Joe Torres/ucanews.com)

When we were invited to Europe to seek support for our search for my missing son, Jonas Burgos, my other son, who accompanied me, and I were greeted with welcome posters of Jonas with the caption “Jonas is mijn broer,” “Jonas ist mein Bruder,” “Jonas is my brother.”

The impact was such that now we have our own posters reading “Jonas is my brother.”

A few years back, I met Shui Meng Ng, a Singaporean whose husband, Sombath Somphone, is a victim of enforced disappearance. For three days, I learned about Sombath.

Continue reading “Brothers in belief and deeds”

Government slanders Sombath Somphone, issues “blanket denials” on enforced disappearances during rights review

FIDH: 18 July 2018

(Paris) During a review by a United Nations (UN) body, the Lao government slandered disappeared civil society leader Sombath Somphone and failed to provide any details concerning its purported investigation into his enforced disappearance, FIDH and its member organization Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR) said today.

On 11-12 July 2018, FIDH and LMHR attended the first-ever examination of the situation of civil and political rights in Laos by the UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR) in Geneva, Switzerland. Continue reading “Government slanders Sombath Somphone, issues “blanket denials” on enforced disappearances during rights review”

Dear Sombath…from Shui Meng (16)

My dearest Sombath,

This letter is one of the most difficult letters I have to write to you.  It’s difficult because I have been so emotionally drained over the last two days following the live broadcast of the Lao Government’s initial report to the UN Committee for Human Rights in Geneva on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Of most interest to me is of course to hear answers to the questions posed by the expert panel of the UN Human Rights Committee on your enforced disappearance 66 months ago on 15 December 2012. Sixty-six long months have passed and I am still waiting for information about what happened to you on that fateful night.  Not one day has passed that I did not hope and pray that you will come back to me safely. Continue reading “Dear Sombath…from Shui Meng (16)”

Dear Sombath…from Shui Meng (15)

My dearest Sombath,

Today, 17 February, is your birthday.  Today in celebration of your birthday I and a small group of family and friends went to Na Khoun Noi Forest temple to offer food to the monks and nuns, and also offer blessings for you – blessings that wherever you are – you will be healthy, happy, and well.

Sombath, the monks and nuns of Na Khoun Noi temple remember you well, especially Mae Kao Keo and Phra Arjahn Sithone.  They remembered that you have been a strong proponent of the concept of Socially Engaged Buddhism and you have been the one who introduced this concept to the temple and through the temple to many other communities in Laos.

Today, Na Khoun Noi temple continues to be the space to train young monks and nuns in the principles and practice of Socially Engaged Buddhism.  Many of the monks and nuns trained are now using their spiritual leadership to help build and improve the spiritual well-being, physical, and economic wellbeing of the community.  The monks and nuns have led the education of young people and guided them to internalize Buddhist teachings into daily life, such as respect for all living things, starting with the elders in the family and their teachers, to everybody around them, including all living beings. Continue reading “Dear Sombath…from Shui Meng (15)”

Sombath Somphone Five Years On

This press conference was held at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand on 07 December 2017. Speakers included:

Ng Shui Meng: Former Deputy Representative for UNICEF Laos 2000 to 2004; wife of Sombath Somphone

Charles Santiago: Member of Parliament, Selangor Malaysia; Chairperson, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Anne-Sophie Gindroz: Former Country Director of Helvetas; author of “Laos, the Silent Repression”

Moderator: Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch Asia Division

The full video can be seen here.