Cross Cultural Foundation BLOG : #Thedisappered2019_Mr. Sombath Somphone

Mr. Sombath Somphone


Mr. Sombath Somphone

Mr. Sombath Somphone

Born to a poor farming family in a small village in Khammoune
Province in Southern Laos, Sombath Somphone had
experienced poverty as well insecurity and turmoil brought
about by the Indochina war between the United States
and Vietnam which also involved Laos. After finishing
his degree in Education and Agronomy in the United States,
he returned to Laos and work on community-based
agriculture development.


In 1996, Sombath created the Participatory Development
Training Center (PADETC) a non-profit training organization
in Vientiane to train farmers and improve critical
and analytical thinking skills among young people to
work on community services. In 2012, Sombath Somphone
was chosen by Laos civil society organizations, and approved
by the Lao Foreign Ministry, as the co-chair of
the National Organizing Committee (NOC) of the 9th Asia
Europe People Forum (AEPF), a meeting of Asian and
European civil society organizations.
The 9th AEPF which took place from 16-19 October 2012
was attended by more than 700 participants,
including Lao participants. At the AEPF, Sombath Somphone,
as the Co-chair of the NOC, also gave the opening speech.
During the AEPF, a large number of Lao security
personnel were present, taking photos and taking notes of
all discussions. Copies of DVD documenting the provincial
consultative process that was supposed to be given to all
participants were confiscated by the Lao authorities.


Similarly, a document written by Sombath Somphone titled
“Lao Vision Statement: Recommendations for Actions”
was not distributed as previously agreed.
On December 15, 2012, two months after the close of
the 9th AEPF, Sombath Somphone was disappeared.
The entire sequence of Sombath’s abduction was filmed on
police CCTV camera showing that he was stopped at
a police post and later taken away in a white truck.


That was the last time Sombath was seen.
The case of Sombath’s disappearance has been filed
with the UN Working Group for Enforced Disappearance
(UN WGEID). Now nearly seven years after Sombath
has been disappeared, the Lao authorities have continued
to claim that the state is not involved and that the police
are still investigating the case.


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