Updated: Enforced disappearances and political repression

7 06 2020

The government continues to deny any knowledge of Wanchalearm Satsaksit’s apparent enforced disappearance. It also avers that it can’t do anything to investigate. It is the “We know nothing” response.

But this ruse is weakened when former security officials blabber on. In this case we have regime supporter and former deputy director of the National Intelligence Agency, Nantiwat Samart sowing seeds of doubt by urging “the public not to jump to conclusions.” He claims Wanchalearm may not have been abducted or killed.

He lies that Thailand’s military doesn’t have capacity for such operations – despite the fact that they have been conducting cross-border operations for decades and having several special forces units including some recently trained units capable of such operations. In addition, it is known that, less than a month ago, police visited Wanchalearm’s mother demanding information on his location.

Contradicting himself he then claims that Thia units would not have abducted the activist as he is just not important enough for such an operation.

Meanwhile, human rights defender Angkhana Neelapaijit – who knows a lot about enforced disappearances – advises the regime to act:

“The government would be cast in a bad light — as an accessory [to the disappearance] — if it is not active in solving this case,” Ms Angkhana said. “Despite Mr Wanchalearm being critical against the government, he is a Thai citizen.”

Thai authorities must work with the Cambodian government to solve this case, the former human rights commissioner added.

Ms Angkhana believes the Cambodian government would take an active role in solving Mr Wanchalearm’s disappearance as the country ratified the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2013.

The Mirror Foundation has announced that Wanchalearm is considered a missing person and that the Foundation will “raise awareness about his abduction.” It said that its “members are making a missing person report assuming that it was a case of forced disappearance.”

The Nation reports that others have expressed their concern. Police used the now common virus emergency decree excuse to restrict a protest on Friday that drew attention to the abduction. The report states that a “group of protesters gathered on the Bangkok Skywalk in Pathumwan district…”.

The Bangkok Post has an editorial that considers the abduction and the others over the past couple of years “speak volumes of how the country’s democracy is phoney.”

We never thought the junta’s “democracy” was anything of the sort, but thought that the Post could have observed that these abductions have been used since the king decided that lese majeste should be toned down.

The Post calls for speech to be freed and for the computer crimes law and other “unjust laws” to be revised. We can’t see the military-backed regime doing anything, either on the enforced disappearances or reducing repression.

Update: AFP reports that Wanchalearm’s family have “pleaded Sunday for his release…”. They said: “Please release Wanchalearm. We will look forward to this with hope…. We hope this enforced disappearance will be the last time.”

Red shirts assassinated

19 09 2010

The Australian Links online journal had a report a few days ago regarding the presumed assassination of red shirts in Chiang Mai. On 29 August, a 21-year-old local red shirt activist Krissada Klaharn and his girlfriend Nongnuch Kampor were driving home at about 1.15 am were targeted by assassins.

Krissada had been a guard for “DJ Aom” Kanyapak Maneejak, a popular radio host. He also served as a guard during the Bangkok protests. “Local Red Shirts allege that this yet another extrajudicial killing carried out by the Thai military against their movement. Bullets and bullet casings found at the scene were from a US-made M16A1 military assault rifle used by the Thai military. This is the fourth Red Shirt who served as a guard in the mass protest camp in Bangkok to be killed since May but as yet there have been no prosecutions of their killers. In addition, there have been many disappearances according to human rights activists from the Mirror Foundation quoted in an August 21 IPS report by Marwaan Macan-Markar.”

PPT observes that human rights defenders and organizations have so far ignored such attacks on red shirts, demonstrating their support of the current regime and their failure as human rights advocates.

Sombat Boonngamanong gets a day in court

30 06 2010

The Bangkok Post reports that president of the Mirror Foundation and red-shirt activist Sombat Boonngamanong, now detained under the draconian emergency provisions that govern much of Thailand, will have a court date. The Criminal Court has agreed to hear his appeal against his detention on Friday. His lawyer will make application on Thursday for his client to come before the court.

Currently Sombat is being held at the Border Patrol Police 1st Region Command in Pathum Thani. He’s been held since 26 June, when he was arrested when conducting a peaceful remembrance ceremony for killed and murdered red shirt demonstrators. That ceremony included photos of the government’s violent dispersal of the red shirts; the government is keen to suppress any red shirt account of the event.

Even if he has his day in court, Sombat may not be permitted to appear in person and may have to speak via videoconference. Given that Sombat is not a major risk to the court or its officials, this seems a bizarre situation.

In the same story, neatly juxtaposed, the Post reports that “Asian Human Rights Commission representative Nick Cheesman has told a Hong Kong newspaper that the recent one-year appointment of Thai ambassador to Geneva Sihasak Phuangketkeow to head the United Nations Human Rights Council was a victory for diplomacy over the rights that the council was supposed to uphold.”

Cheesman observed that while Thailand was pushing Sihasak, the Abhisit Vejjajiva government was busy undermining “the rights of its citizens, with around a third of the country under a state of emergency.”