World Rainforest Movement

Activist Sombath Somphone disappeared in Laos

Sombath Somphone, a farmer, scholar, scientist and community developer as well as a well-known activist in land issues and against mega-dams, has spent his life working for his people and country. He led several projects to improve food security through the use of low-cost and eco-friendly technologies and trained many people including women in participatory planning for integrated rural development as a means to tackle rural poverty.It was through this experience that Sombath came to believe that to alleviate poverty, development approaches must be multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral. In recognition for his contribution to Laos’ development through grass root mobilization, in 2005 SombathSomphone was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, often called Asia’s Nobel Prize.

Sombath was last seen in Vientiane on the evening of Saturday 15th December when he was hailed down by two policemen on Thadeu Road..Two days later, a video became available that showed Sombath being stopped by police and then abducted. The video can be seen at

Friends and colleagues of Sombath have created the website the facebook page to facilitate his return to his family and work and there is an online petition by Avaaz urging the Lao government to conduct urgent and transparent investigation into the disappearance of one of its most respected civil society leaders. Sign the petition at