The Disappearance of Sombath Somphone
Vientiane, the capitol of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, one of the last remaining communist states left in the world.
On 15 December 2012, Sombath Somphone, 61, a prominent Lao development worker and educator, was driving behind his wife, Shui-Meng Ng, when suddenly he is stopped at a police post for a routine license check. His wife looses sight of his jeep in her rear view mirror, and thinking nothing of it, continues home. Sombath fails to show up for dinner. Shui-Meng, after spending the next two days desperately searching for him, finally hits upon the idea of getting the police to review the CCTV cameras of the route she and Sombath took home. The police are happy to help out, but quickly discover the shocking revelation of Sombath’s kidnapping caught on camera by what appears to government agents. When asked for a copy of the tape, the police refuse but allow a cell-phone copy to be made. One week later, an edited version of the footage is released on the Internet and quickly goes viral. Outrage and condemnation quickly follow, with world leaders urging the Lao government to find and return Sombath to his family. Many point to Sombath’s recent work on land rights issues as the probable reason behind his abduction. To date Sombath reminds missing, and the government of Lao continues to say it is still investigating. With the pacing of a who-done-it thriller, this documentary film investigates the life, times, and startling evidence of the probable enforced disappearance of one of Laos’ most prominent citizens.