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Prominent environmental activist Sombath Somphone (above) disappeared in
Vientiane last Saturday according to reports in the Bangkok Post. News spread quickly across the social media including mention on the Facebook page of the US Embassy Lao PDR.
This follows on the heels of the expulsion of Anne-Sophie Gindroz, the country director for Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation who had made statements critical of the Lao government.
I don't know that there is any link between the two occurrences Trying to predict how or why the Lao government does anything is well near impossible. Both events are the typical way the Lao government deals with any kind of dissent. Foreigners are simply kicked out, and Lao nationals disappear to hopefully reappear years later following a sojurn to Huaphan Province.
Laos, one of the few remaining Communist states has been open to the outside world for approximately twenty years, the internal workings of the one party regime remain a mystery.
Of late there have been many issues of displacing villagers with very minimal compensation to make way for new road projects financed by Chinese or Vietnamese foreign investors who recoup the cost of construction by selling the lands at hugely increased prices after completion. Hydro dams going in willy nilly, rubber plantations, illegal logging you name it. If there's a way for a government to steal land from inhabitants and sell them to a foreign company for a pittance it's being done.