FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 15, 2017
FIVE YEARS AFTER HIS KIDNAPPING, LAO CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVIST STILL MISSING
VOC calls on the communist regime in Laos to disclose the whereabouts of Sombath Somphone
Five years ago today, the Lao entrepreneur and civil society activist Sombath Somphone was kidnapped. He has not been seen or heard from since. Evidence indicates that the police and state security services of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic are responsible for Sombath’s kidnapping and forced disappearance.
Sombath’s work included training Lao farmers in more sustainable and efficient agricultural practices, promoting environmental awareness throughout rural Lao communities, helping institute drug abuse prevention programs, and creating educational materials to teach children about proper health and hygiene. He is a 2005 laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership.
VOC Executive Director Marion Smith offered the following statement: “All available evidence shows that the communist regime in Laos had Sombath Somphone abducted by state security forces. What possible justification could they have for so egregiously violating the rights of an activist who dedicated his life to helping the common people of his own country? We call on the regime to disclose the health and whereabouts of Sombath Somphone, and to release him immediately and unconditionally.”
Smith added: “Sombath’s case is one of many crimes that the communists in Vientiane are getting away with unnoticed, including the ongoing persecution of the Hmong minority, the systematic repression of free speech, and the violation of property rights for Chinese-sponsored government projects. It’s time the authoritarian dictators of Laos were put on notice—America, and the world, is watching.”
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a Washington-based, non-profit educational and human rights organization devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes. VOC was authorized by a unanimous act of Congress on December 17, 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton.
To request an interview with Marion Smith, please contact Frank Schembari at firstname.lastname@example.org.