Target: Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe
Goal: Investigate the disappearance of civil society leader and organizer Sombath Somphone, and make sure he is not being held unlawfully
On December 15, 2012, authorities at a checkpoint outside a police station in the nation of Laos took civil society leader and community organizer Sombath Somphone into custody, and he has not been seen since. Now, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to meet with his Laos counterpart, and human rights groups are urging him to take the opportunity to demand that Somphone’s whereabouts be revealed.
Many believe that Japan will have leverage over the government of Laos, because it is the largest donor to the small Southeast Asian nation. However, ever since Somphone’s abduction, Japan has been silent about the event and declined to speak out. Several groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International Japan, Mekong Watch, and two other Japanese nongovernmental organizations are urging the Japanese Prime Minister to do this via a joint letter.
An investigation into Somphone’s disappearance has not been conducted by either Laos or Japan, and Japan’s continued silence on the matter sends the wrong message. Several nations and prominent news sources have demanded that Laos conduct an investigation or disclose Somphone’s location, but information has not surfaced. Somphone is native to Laos and it is speculated that his arrest and disappearance was a political move.
You can help by lending your support. Sign this petition and urge the Japanese Prime Minister to say something when he meets with officials in Laos.
Dear Prime Minster Shinzo Abe,
It has been one year since civil society leader Sombath Somphone has been abducted by authorities. Witnesses who saw the forced abduction claim that Somphone was taken into a van and he hasn’t been seen ever since. It is obvious that the Laos government will not conduct an investigation, and activists are urging that you speak up on the matter.
It has come to my attention that you will be meeting with the Laos Prime Minister very soon. I believe your country will have leverage over the matter of Somphone’s abduction because you are the largest donor to Laos. Your country’s silence over this crime is sending the wrong message to Laos, which is that you accept this kind of behavior. Somphone has given back to his community and should not be punished for this. He should be able to live as a free man and do his work. All that I am asking as a fellow human being is that you say something and raise concerns.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: AK Rockefeller via flickr