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Missing in Laos

This is a link to one of many articles on the recent ‘disappearance’ in Vientiane, capital of The Lao People’s (not so)Democratic Republic of Sombath Somphone, who is the country’s most internationally known social and respected – by all except the Lao govt. – environmental activist.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/01/civil-society-laos#comments

by Nigel Amies at 2013-01-09 10:43:58 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Nigel, have you left Vientiane?

by Ethan Knight | 09 Jan 2013 16:01 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
Yes, Ethan we’re gone since last summer. To quote a memorable book title: ‘My war gone by I miss it so’. In a sense that’s true photographically. Europe/Germany where we are currently doesn’t really inspire me the way Asia did so maybe at some point I’ll have to come back. But otherwise especially when I hear about this sort of thing, which of course is nothing new, I’m happy to be out of it. Vientiane’s a small town and Sombath was well known although he is by no means the first to ‘disappear.’ That’s how totalitarian regiems operate and how many environmental activists and union organizers meet similar fates in supposedly democratic Thailand? What finally got to me was, with few exceptions, the foreign community’s virtual aquiecence and observance of a kind of mafioso ‘omerta’ rule of silence and general fear for their own jobs and ex-pat life styles in cases like this, plus of course the continuing flow of international aid money that essentially keeps the Lao govt afloat. They, the Lao govt, know all they have to do is keep their heads down and wait for the storm to pass. But too late for Sombath I fear.
Did my last story in the region in March in Mae Sot. It’s entered for the FCCT awards. That might give me an excuse for a visit.

by Nigel Amies | 11 Jan 2013 09:01 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I’ve ‘bumped’ into Som on a couple of occasions, made a lasting impression. really terrible news both personally and in a wider (environmental) context. Was passing through Vientiane, bummed i’ve missed you.
As for the homogenous conformity you mentioned, one can observe the ‘self perserving’ gene at almost all walks of life. Unless the river of sewage is knocking on your door, one will most likely opt to pretend that it’s ‘just’ a tidal phenomena. NGO types have long adopted the Chicago school doctrine of margines, bottom line, and cost effectiveness and I’m afraid that keeping ones job falls into that paradigm.

I look forward to seeing your work at the FCCT, I just wish they had a bigger display area for all of the wonderful work that is produced in SE Asia by talented and caring people.

Take care in Germany and stay warm

by Ethan Knight | 12 Jan 2013 08:01 (ed. Jan 12 2013) | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→

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Participants

Nigel Amies, Photographer/writer Nigel Amies
Photographer/writer
[undisclosed location].
Ethan Knight, Documentary Photographer Ethan Knight
Documentary Photographer
(www.ethanknight.org)
Bangkok , Thailand


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