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Intrepid Travel’s JANE CROUCH:
Interview on page 2
Director’s Cut: MISSING PAWN
The world was celebrating Earth Day on March 21, and we were about to celebrate the completion of the 2nd Earth Day Photo Essay Competition, when we read in a bloggers post
from Laos, that our
Member and Ecotourism pioneer Sompawn (Pawn) Kantisouk, co-owner of the award-winning “The Boat
Landing Guesthouse, had been abducted, allegedly by “men in green uniforms”! We have been actively
trying to determine what has happened to Pawn ever since, without success. Sompawn had recently commented
at the destruction of the ecosystem by rubber plantations. Bill Tuffin, co-owner of The Boat Landing, had also
written an article for ECOCLUB about a disastrous river flood in August 2006 which had immersed the Lodge
and had pointed out the ultimate cause as the "widespread clearing of forest for rubber tree plantations in all of the major
watersheds of the upper Nam Tha". Could Sompawn’s disappearance be somehow related? If so it is a clear violation of The
United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, voted in 1948, after a catastrophic world war and right before the
launch of the cold war. The 30-article document, infamously mocked by an Ambassador to the UN as "a letter to Santa-Claus",
is viewed by others, including this newspaper, as one of the highest expressions of Humanity. Article 9 in particular states: "No
one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." There is also a 1992 UN Resolution, entitled the "Declaration
on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance"  which states that “each State shall take effective legislative,
administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent and terminate acts of enforced disappearance in any territory
under its jurisdiction”.
Tourists, common wisdom goes, "should leave nothing but footprints", i.e. should not disrupt the local status quo in any way.
This is not out of lack of care, fear, or weakness, but out of respect to local sensitivities. There is a line however, called Human
Rights, and crossing it has dire consequences in today’s globalised world, where information, despite the best efforts of some,
flows freely and instantly and, thanks to the Internet, bloggers and websites, is as deregulated as ever. If those who hold
Sompawn are reading this: just let him go back to his family, you have already proven that you can overpower an unarmed
Laos is to hold an Ecotourism Forum in July 2007, and ECOCLUB has been appointed as an official Supporting Media. In that
capacity we are optimistic that the central government, who have so far been very supportive of Ecotourism, will put pressure
on regional authorities to investigate Sompawn’s disappearance, which took place over two months ago, more urgently & more
effectively. We would love to see Sompawn, as an Ecotourism pioneer in Laos, officially take part in the opening ceremonies of
the Lao Ecotourism Forum and show the world that his disappearance was a sad but isolated accident.
In the mean time, The Boat Landing Guesthouse remains open for business and continues to support the local community &
environment. Our Members and readers are recommended to visit The Boat Landing as a sign of solidarity to Sompawn, his
family and the local community.
Antonis B. Petropoulos
ISSN 1108-8931
Year 7, Issue 89
Sponsored by: Hana Maui Botanical Gardens (, Maris Hotels Traditional Apartments (,
Vythiri Resort  (,  Beyond Touring (, Siam Safari (, Canyon Travel (