12 December 2013

Amnesty Protest outside of Lao Embassy this Monday

| Barcham
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Amnesty are organising a protest at the Lao Embassy this Monday over the disappearance of Sombath Somphone.

Amnesty International Australia supporters will stage a protest outside the Lao Embassy in O’Malley this Monday 16 December 2013 at 10am, to call for the immediate return of Mr Sombath Somphone.

Sombath is a well-known and respected member of civil society in Laos, who was abducted in the Lao capital, Vientiane, as he drove home from work on the evening of 15 December 2012.

Neither his wife nor anybody else has heard from him since, and the Lao authorities have failed to investigate his disappearance, despite CCTV footage that shows he was stopped by police and taken away in a truck.

“This is an extremely distressing situation,” said AIA Belconnen Group Convenor Digby Habel.

“Sombath Somphone has not been charged with any crime, and his wife has now spent a year wondering whether he will ever come home, without getting any answers from the Lao authorities.”

Exactly why 61 year old Sombath was abducted is still unclear, but months before his disappearance he gave a keynote speech at the Asia-Europe People’s Forum in Laos, where confrontations occurred.

So far the US Secretary of State, our former Foreign Minister Bob Carr, and the European Parliament have made formal requests for an investigation into Sombath’s disappearance, without success.

“Along with high level requests, the story of Sombath has received substantial media coverage—you just need to Google ‘Sombath Somphone’ to obtain a wide range of articles—but there has been no adequate response from the Lao government so far,” said Mr Habel.

“Maybe this protest at the embassy gates will help to make a difference.”

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