Magsaysay Award Winner Disappears in Laos

Today, 61 Thai Civil Society groups send an emergency letter to top officials in Vientiane, Lao PDR to request an emergency investigation on the disappearance of Mr. Sombath Somphone, a high-profile Lao citizen, who has reportedly been missing since approximately 5 pm on Saturday, December 15 in Vientiane.

Mr. Sombath is well-known nationally and internationally.  In 2005, he received the prestigious international Ramon Magsaysay Award, often referred to as Asia’s Nobel Prize, for Community Leadership.  Mr. Sombath is highly respected in the fields of education and development through his work as founder and former Director of PADETC – Participatory Development Training Centre.

Mr. Sombath was last seen by his colleagues on December 15 at 5 pm, when he was leaving the PADETC office in Vientiane to go home.  He went out and left the office in his own jeep.  He did not reach home and his family has had no news from or about him since then.

Thai Civil Society letter; that was directed to Minister of The Prime Minister’s Office, President of The National Assembly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Interior, Minister of Public National Security, Governor of Vientiane Prefecture; and copied to Secretary General of ASEAN Dr. Surin Pitsuwan as well as Vientiane-based Embassies/consulates of Australia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand and USA; reads:

“We, civil society organizations in Thailand, urge concerned Lao authorities to take every urgent action with regard to Mr. Sombath’s disappearance. We look forward to hearing that all immediate and necessary efforts are made to search his whereabouts and investigate the cause of his disappearance.

"Above all and last, we hope that Mr. Sombath remains safe and will re-appear to resume his unfinished mission. For this will be encouraging to not only those sharing a similar mission, but, those committed to the course of making this world a better place for us all”

The search for Mr. Sombath continues.

His disappearance shocked

His disappearance shocked friends and fellow activists in Laos and Thailand, the source added.

Sombath founded PADETC in 1996 to foster sustainable, equitable and self-reliant development.

Perhaps Sombath opposes the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong? Perhaps the Thai/Lao Mafia behind the dam has disappeared him?

Any word on Sombath Somphone?

Any word on Sombath Somphone? It's a pity that the gangsters who run the governments in our region can just disappear people at will. There's news of the disappearance, everyone is ... shocked! that such a thing could happen! again! ... and then it'd business as usual. The NGOs do more business. The Thais build more dams. More land is turned over to the Chinese.

Sombath who? Oh ... yeah. Too bad! Soooo sad! I guess they killed him.

Yesterday's news.