Minister of The Prime Minister’s Office
President of The National Assembly
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister of Interior
Governor, Vientiane Prefecture
Vientiane, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN 
Embassies/consulates of Australia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, USA

Re:  Request urgent investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Sombath Somphone

Dear Madams and Sirs: 

We write to you in a state of extreme concern.  Mr. Sombath Somphone, the founder and former Director of PADETC, has been missing since about 5 pm on Saturday, December 15 2012.

We urge the Lao Government to immediately and urgently initiate an investigation into Mr. Sombath’s disappearance.

His wife and colleagues last saw Mr. Sombath on December 15 at 5 pm, when he left the PADETC office in Vientiane to go home.  He left the office in his own car; his wife was in another car.  He did not reach home and his family has had no news from or about him since then.  His family checked all the hospitals later the same day and on Sunday, December 16, but none of the hospitals had admitted him. His car—an open-top Jeep–has also not been found.  His family has filed a report with the police.  His family and friends have continued searching for Mr. Sombath, with no results. 

Mr. Sombath is a highly respected member in the fields of education and development, and a recipient of the prestigious international Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2005.  He has dedicated his life to sustainable development and poverty reduction in the Lao PDR, and has contributed positively to numerous international processes, including the recent AEPF events that were held in Vientiane in October.  Mr. Sombath is indeed an inspiration to development practitioners all over the world.

We are deeply concerned for Mr. Sombath’s safety and well-being.  Such a disappearance is unusual and rare, and cause for great alarm.  

We urge the Lao Government to use its extensive resources to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into Mr. Sombath’s disappearance, and to make every effort to ensure his safety.


1. Aksone Saysana, Lao PDR

2. ASEAN WATCH-Thailand

3. Asian Public Intellectuals (API) Community

4. Bank Information Centre (BIC)

5. Ms. Binh Hoang, Mekong Program Coordinator, GreenID Innovation and Development Center, Vietnam

6. Both ENDS, Netherlands

7. Bruce Shoemaker, USA

8. Dr. Carl Middleton, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.

9. Mr. Chris Greacen

10. Ms. Chunchom Sangarasri Greacen

11. Chunshan Zhang

12. Do Hai Linh, Vietnam

13. EOM Eunhui, National University Asia Center, South Korea

14. The Finnish NGO platform Kepa, Finland

15. Focus on the Global South, Asia

16. Fu Tao, China

17. German East Timor Association (DOTG e.V.)

18. Global Association for People and the Environment

19. Grainne Ryder, Canada

20. Green Innovation and Development Centre, Vietnam

21. Hoang Duong Thien, Vietnam

22. Indian Social Action Forum, India

23. International Rivers, USA

24. Khiev Kanal, Cambodia

25. Ken Kampe, Office of Retired Developers, Thailand

26. Mr. Ith Mathoura, Samreth Law Group, Cambodia

27. Lam Thi Thu Suu, Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN)

28. Le Kim Nhien, Vietnam

29. Mr. Man Vuthy, Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), Cambodia

30. Margie Law, Mekong Monitor, Tasmania

31. Mr. Mean Meach, 3SPN, Cambodia

32. Mekong Energy and Ecology Network (MEENet)

33. Mekong Watch, Japan

34. Mongkhon Duangkhiew, Thailand

35. Mueda Nawanat, Thailand

36. NGO Forum on Cambodia

37. Nguyen Thi Kim Cuc , Mekong Alumni Network ,Vietnam

38. Patricia DeBoer, American Friends Service Committee

39. Dr. Philip Hirsch, Mekong Research Group (AMRC)
School of Geosciences, the University of Sydney

40. Phokham, Thailand

41. Mr. Randall Arnst

42. Sangthorng La, Mekong Allumni

43. School of Democratic Economics, Indonesia

44. Shining Som, Burma/Myanmar

45. Tanasak Phosrikun

46. Thai NGO coordinating Committee on development (NGO-COD)

47. Tipakson Manpati, Thailand

48. The Cornerhouse, United Kingdom

49. Thou, Cambodia

50. Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA)

51. Toukta, Lao PDR

52. Trinh Le Nguyen, Vietnam

53. WARECOD, Vietnam

54. World Rainforest Movement

55. Zuo Tao, China