Sombath Somphone, a widely-respected leader in education and sustainable development, and recipient of the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, disappeared on the evening of December 15th, 2012 in Vientiane, Lao PDR (see http://www.sombath.org ). CCTV footage which became available 2 days later showed Sombath being stopped by traffic police, his car driven away by an unknown person, and then Sombath being taken in a pickup by 2-3 other unidentified persons. The Lao Government has claimed no knowledge about the abuction or his whereabouts, and have made public assurances that they are investigating the matter. However, one month after his disappearance, no information has been made available to Sombath’s family and friends about the progress and results of the investigation.
On the request of the International Organizing Committee of the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) which recently took place in Vientiane just prior to the ASEM, a delegation of three Parliamentarians from the ASEAN region have gone to the Lao PDR to meet with senior government officials and members of the Lao National Assembly to express their deep concern about the disappearance of Sombath, and discuss possible actions to find Sombath and return him safely to his family. The delegation will present a report of their discussions and conclusions at a press briefing at the FCCT on January 16, from 10.30 am – 12 noon.
Date: 16 January 2013
Venue: Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT), The Penthouse, Maneeya Centre, 518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to Phoenchit Skytrain station: http://fccthai.com/location.html)
Time: 10.30 am – 12 noon
1) Dr. Walden Bello: Member of Parliament, the Philippines; Chairman of the Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs; member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, and; author of several human rights bills.
2) Madame Lily Wahid: Member of Parliament, Indonesia; Member of ASEAN Inter-Parliament of Myanmar Caucus.
3) Mr. Charles Santiago: Member of Parliament, Malaysia; Board member, AEPF