12/19/2014, 00.00
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Sri Lanka activists tell UN to find the truth about Laotian dissident Sombath Somphone's fate

by Melani Manel Perera
The human rights activist was seized in 2012. The members of the Asian Federation against Disappearances (AFAD) organised a peaceful protest in member countries: Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - For the past four days, hundreds of people in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal have held a silent protest, which ends tomorrow, organised by the Asian Federation against Disappearances (AFAD), in front of the UN office in their respective countries.  

All of them want to know what happened to Sombath Somphone, a married Laotian human rights activist, teacher and Magsaysay Award laureate.

CCTV footage shows that Somphone was stopped on 15 December 2012 at a police checkpoint, and taken away in a pickup truck. Since then, his fate is unknown.

Despite repeated appeals from his family and many organisations, the Laotian government has never answered requests for news about his whereabouts.

"We have been fighting against disappearances since 1989," Brito Fernando, president of the association in Sri Lanka, told AsiaNews. "We consider Sombath as one of our activists. We call on the United Nations to use everything at its disposal to force the government of Laos to tell the truth."

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