Search on for land rights activist

From Global development | The Guardian Thu Jan 24 2013, 06:59:01

Sombath Somphone disappeared a month ago after stopping at a police checkpoint, yet officials deny knowing his whereabouts

Though it rarely makes international headlines, Laos has been in the spotlight for the past month. One of its most well-respected activists has gone missing after stopping at a police checkpoint. His disappearance has prompted the Laos government to suggest he was "kidnapped", but rights groups suspect he may have been abducted after campaigning against land grabs.

Sombath Somphone, 60, disappeared on the night of 15 December in the capital, Vientiane, and was last seen by his wife, Ng Shui Meng, who was driving ahead of him as the couple returned home in separate cars. CCTV footage shows the activist stopping at a police post, leaving his vehicle, and his Jeep being driven away by someone else. Later, a pickup truck with its lights flashing arrives, Sombath gets in, and he and two other men drive off.

Although Sombath has not been seen or heard from since the checkpoint stop, the government insists it has nothing to do with his disappearance.

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