The mystery of the disappearance of Sombath
- Will the political leadership of the Lao People`s Democratic Republic show readiness to put all facts on the table?
Roni Alasor / 15 December 2022 - Middle East Diplomatic - Ten years have passed since the Laotian developer educator and civil society prominent leader, Sombath Somphone, has gone missing. According to the police CCTV-records, his car had been stopped at a checkpoint in Vientiane on December 12, 2012, after sunset and in the cover of darkness, just before 18.30.
More than 4,380 days have passed since then, and there have been several hundred protests, events, actions and activities asking for the fate of Mr. Somphone. The UN, EU, USA and many widely known, internationally respected and prestigious personalities reacted strongly on the disappearance of Mr. Somphone and asked the government of Lao to find out what really happened to him. But unfortunately, the family of Mr. Somphone and the international community didn’t get any clear answer.
Lately, to mark the 10th anniversary of Sombath’s disappearance, more than 60 civil society organizations issued a statement to “renew calls on the Lao government to determine his fate and whereabouts and deliver justice, truth, and reparation to his family.”
The disappearance of the leader of Laos’ respected and prominent civil society organization creates also difficulties for the Laotian political leadership. There are signs indicating that not all of the country’s political leadership were involved or informed about the tragic disappearance of Mr. Somphone, but the previous and current political leadership have clear responsibilities to find out what exactly happened and who were behind the crime of Mr Somphone’s disappearance.
The main question is, will the political leadership of the socialist Lao People`s Democratic Republic show readiness to put all facts on the table? This would indeed be a respectable act and in the interest of the Lao government, since it will first of all legitimize it in the eyes of its own citizens, while also leading the international community to consider the Laotian government as a serious and legitimate partner. In addition, it is possible that some eyewitnesses would speak the truth to an independent UN investigator, under certain security guarantees.
Mr. Somphone, born into a poor farming family in Laos, after receiving his master`s degree in agriculture education in the US, he returned to his beloved country to work there and help his poor people in rural areas. He was not involved in politics nor did he confront the former Stalinist dictatorship or the current totalitarian regime that still oppresses its own people. But Mr. Somphone was providing the poor Laotian farmers with valuable education and training them how to develop their country.
-Don’t give up
The family of Mr. Somphone and human rights activists in South East Asia are underlining the fact that it’s important to continue the fight to bring the people responsible to justice. And they are also issuing a warning: -We should not give any ground to organized crime, by offering new victims to the totalitarian regimes in the South East Asia.
Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch stated that Myanmar is one of the worst countries in the Asian continent regarding crimes against humanity, but the violations against human rights in one party-states such as Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Singapore are also ongoing. After new laws were being implemented, Indonesia is also seriously violating international human rights law and standards. Robertson believes that so far only Japan and South Korea are doing better, as well Australia and New Zealand.
Finally, Robertson added that the EU and Western countries should not look to Asia only as an economic and trade partner, but should also focus more on human rights issues and the general human rights situation in Asia.
For more information and details on the Enforced Disappearance of Mr. Sombath Somphone, click the below link for the full documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-MmZUvMZWI