Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (15 December):
A year ago to the day, on 15 December 2012, Sombath Somphone disappeared. I am deeply concerned as what happened to him remains unclear. Sombath Somphone is a member of Lao civil society who is particularly well respected also in Germany. He is the key initiator, organiser and visionary behind the most important European‑Asian civil society forum, the Asia‑Europe People Forum held mid‑October 2012, which played a major role in bolstering dialogue between the people of Europe and Asia.
In 2005, Sombath Somphone was presented with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. He was selected for this major honour due to his tireless efforts to further sustainable development in Laos by training and motivating the country’s young people. He also works with inspirational dedication to combat poverty and increase the level of participation of the village populations.
I would like to remind the Lao Government of its responsibility to investigate Sombath Somphone’s disappearance in a thorough and transparent manner. We consider the official investigations performed to date to be insufficient and lacking in conviction. The unclear circumstances surrounding Somphone’s disappearance have the potential to harm the international standing of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
On this sad anniversary, my thoughts and sympathy are with Sombath Somphone’s friends and family. Together with them, I hope he will soon return.