Human Rights 

Special Book Launch "Silencing Of a Laotian Son"

FCCT clubhouse and online

Tuesday, 14 December, 10 am

Co-organizer: SEM, International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) Focus on the Global South, Project SEVANA South-East Asia

The Silencing of a Laotian Son – the Life, Work and Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone is a thoughtful portrayal of Sombath Somphone’s 30-year life journey to improve the lives of rural communities in Laos and his subsequent enforced disappearance on December 15, 2012. It tells how Sombath’s ground-breaking community and youth development work has earned him widespread recognition as Laos's leading development specialist. It also documents the Lao authorities’ denial of state involvement in Sombath’s disappearance and his wife’s tireless and agonizing struggle to rally international support for his safe return since his disappearance.

This event brings together a panel of well-known speakers to launch this important book.

1.             Ajaan Sulak Sivaraksa, a friend and mentor of Sombath for over 30 years, has greatly influenced Sombath’s work on Education and Engaged Buddhism.

2.             Ms Cynthia Veliko, Head of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights based in Bangkok. Her organization continues to champion the enhancement of human rights in the region.

3. Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit is the wife of the famous human rights lawyer Dr. Somchai Neelapaijit, who disappeared in 2004. She is the founder of Justice for Peace, an organization founded to support victims of Enforced Disappearance and advocate for improved state laws against the perpetration of Enforced Disappearances.

4.             Shui Meng Ng is the wife and author of the book. She has continued tirelessly to seek truth and justice for her husband, Sombath Somphone.


Moderator       Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia, Human Rights Watch

Watch the video of the event.

Panel discussion and photo exhibition at the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies  - July 2017

The Thai sugar industry has now moved to neighboring countries. In 2006 and 2008, the two major Thai sugar companies, Khon Kaen Sugar Ltd. and Mitr Phol Group, had invested in Cambodia and Lao PDR. Both companies awarded almost 20,000 hectares of land in Cambodia under an Economic Land Concession (ELC) scheme. Their investment in Koh Kong and Oddor Meanchey Province had become the primary complaint and the first investigation crossing the border ever of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and Southeast Asia. The NHRC's reports of both cases came out in 2015, stating that the companies need to take responsibility for the people, those suffering from land and livelihood loss, forced eviction, and the violations that occurred to them. NHRC also recommended that the Thai government set up the proper regulations and processes to monitor Thai investment abroad.

Project SEVANA organized the panel "Migrant workers as a consequence of land grab: Change of lives and communities, and potential impacts to the region” (Cases of Cambodia migrant workers relocated from sugar cane plantation areas in Oddor Meanchey Province)" at the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies  in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand on 18th July 2017, to discusses the content related to the testimony of local people those being evicted in 2009 from O’Bat Moan community in Oddor Meanchey Province, to make ways for the sugarcane plantation of Mitr Phol company. Mitr Phol pulled out their investment from Cambodia in 2015, but the government still does not return the land to the people.

The panel discussion is based on the research conducted by Project SEVANA South-East Asia and their alliances both in Cambodia and Thailand in 2016, focusing on the changing livelihood after the land and forest loss and the new livelihood as migrant workers for the village people who flee to work in Thailand since an eviction occurred. The panel discusses the ‘gaps’ within and among different actors that contribute to creating such scenarios and conflicts. The analysis of different actors, including ASEAN's extreme support for economic integration and foreign direct investment among the regional businesses, is also discussed.

The three panelists are Mr. Ubon Yoowah of Alternative Agriculture Network, Mr. Siwawong Suktawee, the coordinator of the Migrant Working Group (MWG) in Thailand, and Ms. Premrudee Daoroung, the founder and Coordinator of Project SEVANA South-East Asia.  

Along with this workshop, Project SEVANA was also honored to display photographs related to the land issue of Mr. Jonas Gratzer, the Swedish photographer named Photographer of the Year by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand in 2015. Jonas allowed us to exhibit his title "Migrant workers as a consequence of land grab: Change of lives and communities, and potential impacts to the region” (Cases of Cambodia migrant workers relocated from sugar cane plantation areas in Oddor Meanchey Province".

See more of Jonas Gratzer's work at;