New York Times on the disappearance of Sombath Somphone in Laos

With Laos Disappearance, Signs of a Liberalization in Backslide – NYT, January 10, 2013
[Thanks to Tom for pointing this out.]
…Paradoxically for the Lao government, it is a network of cameras that the municipal police installed over the past three years to monitor “anti-social behavior” that have pointed to signs of the government’s involvement in Mr. Sombath’s disappearance. Helpful workers at a local police station initially showed the family images of Mr. Sombath’s jeep stopped at a police checkpoint on the evening of Dec. 15. Mr. Sombath then appeared to be driven off in a white vehicle. Family members had the presence of mind to record the footage with their own digital devices — crucial because the government now refuses to let them view the video again despite pleas by diplomats who would like to analyze it for clues like license plates.
…A precise accounting of repression in Laos is difficult to obtain because the news media are controlled by the government and communication is poor across the impoverished countryside. But one measure of politically related violence can be found when it spills over into the country’s freewheeling neighbor, Thailand, where it is recorded by the police and reported in the news media. Mr. Adisorn, who has researched Lao politics for the past two decades, has compiled a list of more than 20 Lao citizens assassinated in Thailand over what appear to be political reasons, including a Buddhist monk who opposed the government and a member of the former Lao royal family…

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