Focus on the Global South in the Philippines together with other human rights defenders held June 18 a ritual of remembrance at the Lao PDR Embassy in Magallanes, Makati City, for Lao human rights defender and community development worker Sombath Somphone on the occasion of the sixth month since he was forcibly disappeared in Vientiane. The December 15, 2012 abduction was caught on CCTV camera that showed presence of police forces during the incident on a busy intersection at Laos’ capital. The June 18 activity is not only for remembering Sombath but is also aimed at reminding the Lao government that justice has not been served, and that the Lao government should not let up on its investigation until Sombath is found and returned safely to his family and community, said Clarissa Militante of Focus on the Global South Philippines office.
Though the event took place in the Philippines, people from all over Asia, Europe, the United States and Australia ‘joined’ the ritual through messages of hope and support for Sombath emailed to Focus, and even by those who did not personally know him. In the days leading to this event, more than 100 messages have been sent requesting that candles be lighted on their behalf for Sombath and their messages urging the Lao government to ensure the safe return of the Lao citizen be read at the Lao PDR Embassy. Messages continue to pour in even after the event.
Focus and friends from the peace and human rights community in Manila lighted the candles and read these messages, some of them prayers to Buddha and Jesus. The messages came from academics, heads of international non-government organizations as well as from ordinary citizens who have not even known Sombath but deeply feel for him and his family.
“We are thinking of you and hoping you will be returned to us soon,” said Larry Lohman in his emailed message to Focus. Lohman is author of the book “Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatization and Power” and co-founder of the Durban Group for Climate Justice.
Anne Sophie Gindroz of the Swiss NGO Helvetas has this message: “I hope Sombath is in good health. I wish that those who detain Sombath treat him well and will release him soon. I pray for his safe return to his wife and to his community. May those who are responsible for his abduction be brought to justice. I pray for a world where enforced disappearances do not happen anymore.”
From Josette & Lou Rosof of Honolulu, Hawaii: “We join all of you wonderful people in the quest for Sombath’s safe return.”
“Pray for Sombath to return home safely. God, Buddha, and all spirit bless him and (return him) safely home,” wrote Chanthalangsy Sisouvanh.#
To read the other messages click here