Southeast Asia’s lost dream of open societies

ASEAN's gutless policy over enforced disappearances is unlikely to change under authoritarianism.

In recent years, the number of people who have simply disappeared in Southeast Asia has increased in tandem with the rise of authoritarians tightening their grip on power from Thailand and Cambodia to Vietnam and the Philippines.

Nearly all those still missing or dead were human rights activists, pro-democracy supporters, journalists, bloggers and opposition politicians who dared to challenge thugs dressed up as politicians.

Among the more prominent was Sombath Samphone, a social activist and agriculturalist who was snatched from the streets in Vientiane, Laos, bundled into a police van and never heard from again.

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