Laos is facing mounting international pressure over the disappearance of civil rights worker Sombath Somphone last December. Some have called for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to intervene, with high level diplomatic efforts underway by the United States and Australia.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr raised the issue with his Laotian counterpart and Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong during a visit this week, telling them that Sombath had many friends in Australia who admire his work who were very worried about his disappearance.
Carr chose his words carefully, saying he did not want to stress Sombath’s wife, Singaporean Ng Shui Meng, who has campaigned for her husband’s release. He said he had gained assurances from the Laos leader that the relevant departments would continue to pursue the issue and added that Australia would also continue to take an active interest in the case.