Where is Sombath?

On the occasion of the 6th month, on 15 June, since Sombath Somphone was forcibly disappeared, a call to send messages and prayers to remember the Lao development worker yielded messages from Asia, the US and Europe.  The messages are not only about remembering what happened to Sombath but are also expressions of concern about the progress of investigation into his case, urging the Lao government to ensure Sombath’s safety return soon.

Here are the messages that were sent to Focus on the Global South through email:

Bangkok/Manila/Jakarta (15 May 2013) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Focus on the Global South, The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) reiterated their call on the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and ASEAN governments to break the silence and take action on the disappearance of Laotian development worker, educator and Magsaysay award winner Sombath Somphone.

Forced or enforced disappearance is not a new phenomenon in Southeast Asia. In the Philippines hundreds of people involuntarily disappeared during the brutal martial law regime. In Indonesia, a number of political activists were abducted during the turbulent years leading up to the fall of Suharto. In Thailand, it has been nine long years since human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit went missing. Two days from now it will be the fourth month since Sombath Somphone, or Uncle Bath to the young activists in the region, was abducted. The list goes on and on without end in sight.

In observance of holy week, the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) in the Phils. holds its annual Calvary of Injustice. Using the 7 last words of Christ for reflection, friends and families of the disappeared remember their loved ones, their own pains, struggles and hopes. Becky Lozada of the Phil. Coalition for the International Criminal Court remembers Lao activist Sombath Somphone in her reflections on "I am thirsty." Children of the disappeared tell their stories through dance.

by Focus on the Global South

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