Updated: Wanchalerm “missing” for 12 months

4 06 2021

Thai PBS reported on one year “anniversary” of the apparent forced disappearance of regime critic Wanchalearm Satsaksit who was kidnapped in broad daylight on a Phnom Penh street on 4 June 2020.

It is widely assumed that it was some kind of military or paramilitary unit sent to do the work of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s regime, with many feeling that the orders probably came from the palace. Many believe he is dead.

Wanchalerm

Where is Wanchalearm? Clipped from Prachatai

He has not located and neither the Thai nor Cambodian governments have said much at all and have sat on their hands. This suggests state complicity and collusion between states.

According to the report, despite Wanchalerm having been “kidnapped by a group of armed men outside his apartment building in Phnom Penh” and that the “incident was witnessed by passers-by and recorded on CCTV cameras,” the  “Cambodian authorities refused to treat it as a case of abduction.”

Of course, he is not the only Thai political activist to have been disappeared since the 2014 military coup.

He is among nine critics of the Thai government and military thought to have fallen victim to enforced disappearance over the past few years. His case has become a focus of anti-establishment protests seeking to oust the Thai government and change the junta-sponsored Constitution.

Not mentioned is the fact that most of these disappeared activists, a couple of whom turned up murdered and floating in the Mekong River, is that most of them were critics of the monarchy.

The Thai regime has “made no progress in the investigation of Wanchalearm’s disappearance since his family submitted their information to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) a year ago…”.

Wanchalerm’s sister Sitanan “is dismayed by how Cambodian authorities have dealt with the case”:

The Cambodian police did not conduct a proper investigation…. I felt that officials in Cambodia did not care about the evidence we presented. They said if we could not provide stronger evidence, they would not investigate the case at all.

Sitanan also “says Thai authorities have shown an equal lack of enthusiasm, declining to give her any information or to conduct a formal inquiry into her brother’s disappearance.”

For many observers, there is a pattern of official lack of interest and inaction that usually accompanies official complicity. Indeed, Sitanan now “suspects Thai authorities were involved in what she describes as her brother’s ‘forced disappearance’ in Cambodia.”

Prachatai reports on further efforts to have the Thai regime to do something about Wanchalerm’s case and the similar “disappearance” of  Siam Theerawut, who disappeared after fleeing to Vietnam.

Update: Prachatai has a series of related stories, here, here, and here.





Missing the missing

7 09 2020

A report on missing and unidentified persons is a wholly uncritical account of a “digital sketch exhibition … to raise public awareness about missing people through the display of artwork.”

The event is organized Pol Col Chaiwat Burana, a superintendent at the Criminal Records Division of the Royal Thai Police.Pol Col Chaiwat organised the exhibition.It is stated that “[t]he police hope the sketches might attract other witnesses in the incident, whose testimonies will add weight to the case and raise the chance of conviction against the suspects.”

While it might be useful to raise awareness of missing persons and the unidentified, as far as we can tell from the report, the exhibition includes none of those who have been lost to enforced disappearance.

Where is Wanchalearm? Where are the scores of others? The UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances reports 82 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances in Thailand since 1980.

Where is Wanchalearm? Clipped from Prachatai

These include Somchai Neelapaijit in 2004, Karen land rights defender Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen in 2014 and political activists Siam Theerawut, Chucheep Chivasut and Kritsana Thapthai during 2018-19.

Where is Surachai?

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

Where are Ittipon Sukpaen aka DJ Sunho, Wuthipong Kachathamakul aka Ko Tee, Chatchan Bubphawan aka Comrade Phuchana, and Kraidej Luelert aka Comrade Kasalong?

Remarkably, the exhibition does show “the face[s] of two suspects in the deadly explosion at the Erawan Shrine at Ratchaprasong intersection in 2014.” These two are “missing” in custody. Their trial has been delayed and delayed since, with the two held in custody. The exhibition seems to admit that the police have insufficient evidence to convict them yet detains them for almost six years.

Justice is difficult to come by.





Further updated: Where’s Wanchalearm?

26 06 2020

On 23 June, the family of missing activist in exile Wanchalearm Satsaksit has filed a complaint with “the  Office of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Justice’s Rights and Liberties Protection Department, and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), calling for an investigation into his disappearance, while also preparing to file a complaint with the Cambodian police.”

When Wanchalearm’s sister Sitanun Satsaksit , submitted her complaint to the Office of the Attorney, she was “joined by Pranee Danwattanusorn … whose husband Sur[a]chai went missing while in exile in Laos, and Kanya Theerawut … mother of Siam Theerawut, another missing activist.

They are supported by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights: “A TLHR lawyer said that the family is filing a complaint … calling for the authorities to launch an investigation in order to find and prosecute the three people who abducted Wanchalearm.”

Wanchalearm’s family has called on the Thai government to find whether:

  • Wanchalearm has been arrested in Cambodia and why, and if this is the case,
  • he is in custody in Cambodia and where;
  • the Thai authorities were notified of Wanchalearm’s arrest by the Cambodian authorities;
  • the Thai authorities requested the Cambodian authorities to send Wanchalearm back to Thailand to be prosecuted, and
  • the Cambodian authorities returned Wanchalearm to Thailand.

The family also asked that Thai authorities “investigate Wanchalearm’s possible torture and enforced disappearance” and demanded to know “if the authorities have information on Wanchalearm’s fate or whereabouts…”.

It must suit the military-backed regime in Bangkok that Sitanun and her family cannot travel to Cambodia because of the so-called virus crisis. She revealed that “the Cambodian police said they cannot investigate the case because Wanchalearm’s relatives has not filed a complaint about his disappearance.” Getting legal representation in Cambodia ha proven a challenge, not just because of cost, but “because some lawyers have withdrawn from the case as they did not want to take the risk.” That suggests collusion between the two authoritarian regimes.

In an interview at Thisrupt, Sitanun stated that she and her mother “hope that he is still alive.” She added that “if he is dead, at least give us confirmation, because not knowing whether he is dead or alive is very difficult.”

In the more than three weeks since Wanchalearm’s disappearance the junta’s regime has done nothing. Again, that provides reasonable grounds for suspicion that the regime is deeply involved with the crime.

There is a social media campaign using the hashtag #savewanchalearm going “until he is found. To not also let the topic disappear.” At the same time, “people have been putting up posters and tying white ribbons around Bangkok, demanding justice for Wanchalearm.”

Of course, the regime’s minions have been busy taking them down, another piece of circumstantial evidence of its complicity in the enforced disappearance.

There have also been several rallies in support of Wanchalearm and demanding the authorities reveal his whereabouts.

Update 1: The New York Times has a detailed report on Wanchalearm, enforced disappearances, and the political context, stating:

At least nine prominent critics of the Thai government have vanished over the past two years, according to human rights groups. It is a pattern of disappearances that the Thai public is having a hard time ignoring….

It also has details of the abduction of Wanchalearm and the official cover-ups in Cambodia and Thailand.

Meanwhile, VOA Khmer has more on the Cambodian police response. Not only is it insipid, but it reeks of covering up for powerful interests. Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Koy Kuong is quoted as saying that the Cambodian side “had sent a note to the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh on June 11 … but that the Foreign Ministry had not heard back from their Thai counterparts.” Koy added the obvious: “They have not requested anything else for us to do…. [W]e told them that the police will continue to investigate.” In this, “investigate” means throwing as much dust in the air as possible.

Update 2: Members of the European Parliament have issued a statement of concern about Wanchalearm’s disappearance.





With 3 updates: Campaigning for Wanchalearm

9 06 2020

Update 1: Apologies to readers. Some of our earlier version of this post was left unedited. We have fixed that now.

Wanchalearm Satsaksit’s enforced disappearance has been taken up by Thai activists and some of the international media.

In a story with worldwide impact, Thomson Reuters reports that the exile’s kidnapping has sparked protests. These aren’t just about Wanchalearm but all of the now “missing” or deceased exiles. As the report explains, the agitation has expanded “reignit[ing] protests against Thailand’s military-royalist elite, with some online questioning a law banning criticism of the monarchy.”

There were protesters at the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok: “Dozens of protesters outside the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok demanded an investigation into the disappearance and accused the Thai state of orchestrating his kidnapping, which Thailand’s police and government have denied.” According to Khaosod, the “protesters submitted a petition to the mission’s secretary and placed posters calling for justice on the embassy’s wall.”

Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and other protesters at the Cambodian Embassy

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan deflected criticism, saying the matter is one for Cambodia. Previous disappearances have seen no action at all from the Thai authorities, convincing many that the perpetrator/s are protected.

Posters “labelled ‘Missing’ appeared around Bangkok featuring photos of Wanchalearm and other [disappeared] critics of military governments…” appeared around Bangkok. Claimed to be “the work of the Spring Movement, a small group of students at Bangkok’s elite Chulalongkorn University…”, officials working hard to remove them.

One group member told Reuters: “We do not know who directly ordered the abduction, but we can see the ruling elite of this country does not care about this issue.”

Suddenly, there seemed a general “feeling” about “who directly ordered the abduction,” with the hashtag “#abolish112” trending on “Twitter, used or retweeted more than 450,000 times by midday on Monday.” The reporters involved sought a response from the palace! An official said: “The palace has no comment on this issue…”.

Oddly, according to Khaosod, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees also responded saying “the organization cannot give any opinion or information about the disappearance of activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit.” We assume this reflects the royalist domestication of UN agencies in Bangkok.

Some celebrities – presumably of some significance in Thailand – have taken up Wanchalearm’s case, with Maria Poonlertlarp, a “former Miss Universe Thailand … add[ing] her voice to the growing campaign for the Thai and Cambodian governments to explain the disappearance of Wanchalerm…”. On Instagram she used the #SaveWanchalerm hashtag “calling for  answers from authorities about his disappearance.”

Often timid on such matters, the Puea Thai Party “also called on the government to use diplomatic channels to find his whereabouts.” Sudarat Keyuraphan stated: “He is a Thai citizen that the government is duty bound to protect…”.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee is asking questions. Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome, who serves as the committee on law and human rights spokesman, “said the government must be held accountable for the incident.” He stated that the committee “will summon the national police commissioner [Gen Chakthip Chaijinda] to testify about … [Wanchalearm’s] fate…”. He also said others like Special Branch Police commissioner Maj Gen ‎Sarawut Karnpanit and consular affairs department chief Chatri Atjananan would be called to meet the committee. Rangsman observed: “It is the obligation of the government to protect its citizens. On top of that, Wanchalearm has contributed to many youth welfare and other charitable organizations.”

The Bangkok Post reports that the Active Thai Citizen group, led by Kan Wattanasupang, also a member of the Move Forward Party, submitted a petition to the House of Representatives. Kan said “the government must seek to protect all Thai citizens regardless of differences in political ideology.” He added: “We cannot let such gross human rights violations happen to those with political different ideas. In the past, political dissidents have been victims of intimidation, assault or even enforced disappearance,” raising the “mysterious disappearances of other political dissidents including Wuthipong … Kochathamakun and Surachai Danwattananusorn.”

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

Remarkably, there’s also a report about the decrepit, regime-controlled National Human Rights Commission, claiming some role:

Thailand’s state-sanctioned human rights agency on Monday denies turning a blind eye to the spate of abduction targeting Thai dissidents living overseas.

In a phone interview today, What Tingsamitr, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said his organization has acknowledged the latest case of disappearance, that of activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit. However, What said no formal investigation opens yet because no one has filed a complaint with them.

“We are keeping our eyes on the issue,” What said. “We can’t take action right away since it happened outside the country. We admit that we don’t have power beyond our boundary, but we can coordinate with the foreign ministry and forward the case to Cambodian authorities.”

The case is certainly a “grave violation” of human rights if it has been proven to be an enforced disappearance, he added.

To date we have seen nothing at all of significance from the supine NHRC on any of the disappearances and murder.

What said:

“We have already published reports on many abductees in the past,” What said. “But it’s up to the government and legislators to take the issue seriously. Thailand has signed the UN convention against enforced disappearance since 2012, but it never became a law.”

But its done nothing else. Writing a report does not imply investigation.

Fellow exile Ji Ungpakorn has commented, pointedly observing: “No one should be under the illusion that Thailand has returned to democracy, despite recent elections. The military is still very much in charge and the repression continues.” So has Yammy Faiyen, who recently fled Laos for asylum in France, although her comments will probably be blocked.

At the Bangkok Post, columnist Atiya Achakulwisut bravely speaks some truths. We reproduce in full:

It might be because “it could happen to you”.

It could also be an accumulation of bitterness and frustration, built up over decades of hearing about this or that person suddenly dying or disappearing without a trace or explanation.

It could even be a paradigm shift at long last when the new generation is no longer tied to old norms or affected by traditional fear and dares to express in public what was once considered taboo.

It could be a bit of everything but the day has come when a forced disappearance which would generate only quiet whispers in the past is now causing a genuine public uproar.

The disappearance of anti-government activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who was allegedly abducted outside his apartment in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, last Thursday, has been covered by mainstream media.

Chulalongkorn as well as Thammasat University student organisations issued statements condemning the alleged forced disappearance and urged the Thai government to take a stance.

The incident has been widely discussed on social media, especially Twitter where the hashtag #save has drawn hundreds of thousands of tweets.

The outrage and demand for the Thai government to take action are welcoming for the human rights cause although they can be considered surprising considering Wanchalearm was not that well-known.

The Ubon Ratchathani native was against the coup and military rule. He was also wanted by authorities for defying a National Council for Peace and Order summons to report after the 2014 putsch.

In 2018, Wanchalearm was subject to another arrest warrant for violating the Computer Crime Act by operating a Facebook page critical of the government.

The activist has been living in self-imposed exile for more than six years, claiming his political stance led to harassment and other threats to his life.

Now that he has gone missing, a seemingly small player unlikely to affect a sea change in the grand scheme of things, his plight has struck a chord with many people.

Alongside news of his disappearance, photos of Wanchalearm, almost all of them showing the bespectacled 37-year-old grinning, have also surfaced everywhere. A little-known name has become a real person. Wanchalearm has become not just an anti-whatever activist but a son, a brother, a friend.

Indeed, he could be any one of us.

Wanchalearm may harbour anti-coup thoughts. He may have voiced disapproval of military rule or other forms of suppression. But do these thoughts constitute a crime?

Do people deserve to “disappear” because they are critical of something powerful?

Wanchalearm had left the country, yet he could be made to disappear in broad daylight in Phnom Penh, taken by a group of armed men according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) citing witnesses and CCTV images. Cambodian police said they knew nothing about it.

Who could be capable of executing such an operation?

As Wanchalearm’s sister Sitanan begged the Thai government and international agencies to help find her brother, Cambodia’s Interior Ministry suggested the HRW report could be “fake news” while the Thai government has made no response.

Today marks the sixth day since Wanchalearm “disappeared”.

Since the 2014 coup, about a hundred political activists exiled themselves to other countries. Of these, at least six have gone missing while two were found dead, according to BBC Thai.

Wanchalearm is definitely not the first suspected of being “carried away”. The UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances reports 82 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances in Thailand since 1980.

These include Somchai Neelapaijit in 2004, Karen land rights defender Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen in 2014 and political activists Siam Theerawut, Chucheep Chivasut and Kritsana Thapthai during 2018-19.

It is possible that the #save trend and collective anger against the alleged forced disappearance could end up like other save someone or something hashtags before it — making no difference to the oppressive, unaccountable power culture in Thailand and becoming just another footnote in the country’s decades-long political struggle.

But one thing is clear — his plight has roused the public like never before. His story has been openly discussed, and not just in a quiet whisper. The fear usually associated with such a “disappearance” is gone.

Will this awakening turn out to be a real force for change? For once, it may be the turn of the other side to be fearful.

There may be whispering about the case and even some high-profile expression in Thailand. But that which can only be written about outside Thailand is speculation that “the operation to seize activist Wanchalearm Satstaksit was ordered by King Vajiralongkorn.”

Update 2: AP reports that “Cambodian authorities say they are willing to investigate the reported abduction of an exiled Thai dissident in Cambodia’s capital, though they claim to have been unaware of his presence for several years.” We won’t be holding our breath on that one. Meanwhile, in Bangkok, the regime repressed those raising awareness of the case, with police arresting four students … tying white ribbons at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument in protest against the apparent forced disappearances of Wanchalearm and other victims. They were accused of violating littering and traffic laws.”

Update 3: Khaosod reports that officials are busy in Bangkok erasing murals and tearing up posters that were raising awareness of Wanchalearm’s disappearance. Such actions will be seen by many as admissions of the regime’s complicit role in the enforced disappearance.





Remembering the dead and disappeared

17 05 2020

Prachatai memorializes the first anniversary of the day “Siam Theerawut went missing after being extradited from Vietnam along with other 2 self-exiled activists,” Chucheep Chiwasut (Uncle Sanam Luang) and Kritsana Tubthai.

There has been no news of the three since they were disappeared, reportedly after being handed over to Thailand. According to Prachatai, Siam’s family have contacted “the Thai Crime Suppression Division, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and the Vietnamese Embassy” but have received no useful information. An official brickwall is suggestive of the involvement of high-level persons. In Thailand, this pattern inevitably means military, monarchy and regime.

Why? “Siam fled the country at the age of 29 at some point after the 2014 military coup when all Article 112-related cases [lese majeste] were revived. In 2018, the authorities alleged that he was involved with the Thai Federation group, an anti-monarchy group.”

Prachatai includes a timeline, which we reproduce in full:

  • 5 December 2018 The Thai Federation group invite their followers to wear black shirts with the group’s symbol in Bangkok and other provinces. Many were later prosecuted.
  • 7 December 2018 Deputy PM Gen Prawit Wongsuwan welcomes the Lao Minister of Defence, General Chansamone Chanyalath and discusses the issue of Thai political exiles in Lao. Chansamone admitted that there was a movement on the Lao side but it had few people. The Thai Federation group operated through radio programmes. The Ministry of National Defence would deal with it, but the movement was nothing to worry about since they could do nothing.
  • 12 December 2018 In Lao, Surachai Danwattananusorn (Sae Dan), another famous self-exiled political activist, goes missing along with other 2 activists; Kraidet Leulerd, or Kasalong, and Chatchan Bupphawan, or Phuchana. The Thai exiles acknowledged that they would have to lay low whenever the Thai and Lao authorities talk about cooperation. But Surachai did not.
  • 13 December 2018 Thai PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha visits the Lao President in Vientiane.
  • 26-29 December 2018 2 bodies are washed ashore alongside the Maekhong River. DNA tests identify them as Kraidet and Chatchan. The internal organs had been removed and replaced with cement and the faces were mutilated. Surachai’s whereabouts remain unknown until now.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

  • 8 May 2019 The Thai Alliance for Human Rights (TAHR) based in the United States reports that Siam, Chucheep and Kritsana were arrested some time earlier and deported from Vietnam .
  • 9 May 2019 Siam’s relatives file a missing person report. The Crime Suppression Division do not accept the report as there is no arrest report.
  • 10 May 2019 Siam’s relatives file a request with the Crime Suppression Division Commander to be informed about Siam’s arrest. Human Right Watch and Amnesty International issue statements calling on the Thai authorities to disclose the whereabouts of Siam, Chucheep and Kritsana.
  • 13 May 2019 Siam’s family and friends go to the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand to call on the Vietnamese authorities to address the disappearance. They also file petitions with the National Human Rights Commission and the European Union.
  • 14 May 2019 Siam’s family and friends go to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Bangkok to give information regarding Siam. They also urge the OHCHR to help finding him.
  • 16 July 2019 Siam’s sister says that the Thai Embassy in Hanoi has asked the Vietnamese authorities about the entry of Siam and his colleagues into Vietnam. However, the authorities did not have any information.
  • 8 August 2019 Thai political activists in Europe gather at the Thai Embassy in Paris holding photos of 10 Thai activists who had either gone missing or been killed since 2016.
  • 12 September 2019 Siam’s mother says at the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) that the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD) told her not to take her son’s case to the UN as it could damage the country’s image.
  • 10 October 2019 Pranee Danwattananusorn, Surachai’s wife, files a petition with the Royal Thai Police Commander to investigate the disappearance of Surachai and other activists.
  • 12 March 2020 Siam’s portrait is exhibited in the “For Those Who Died Trying” exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, along with other cases of disappearance.

We have the impression that the regime and palace figured that enforced disappearances and murders would fill anti-monarchists with fear and resolve the “problem.” Apparently not.





The missing and the exiled

19 02 2020

Prachatai has had some excellent reports in recent days. This post draws attention to its “Post-Coup Overview on Exiles.”

Clipped from Prachatai

The article details the missing:

at least 8 of these refugees have disappeared for no known reason, even though they were living in other countries. These are: Ittipon Sukpaen aka DJ Sunho; Wuthipong Kachathamakul aka Ko Tee; Surachai Danwattananusorn aka Surachai Sae Dan, revolutionary and underground radio programme presenter; Chatchan Bubphawan aka Comrade Phuchana; Kraidej Luelert aka Comrade Kasalong; Chucheep Chivasut (Uncle Sanam Luang); Siam Theerawut; and Kritsana Tupthai.





Federationists sentenced

28 01 2020

A Prachatai report updates the fate of the “lese majeste” cases against four persons accused of involvement with the so-called Thai Federation, said to be a republican movement.

The four are not charged with lese majeste due to the king’s unwillingness to continue using the charge – despite his own previous aggressive use of the law. Rather, the four were charged with sedition and membership of a “secret society.”

The report states that the case was filed on 24 October 2019, but the case goes back to early September 2018.

While the four are not named, others named in the case and charged are several who are dead or disappeared. The public prosecutor filed charges against Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee, Kritsana Tupthai, Chucheep Chivasut or Uncle Sanam Luang, Siam Theerawut and Wat Wanlayangkoon, for their alleged involvement in the Thai Federation movement.

The Criminal Court found the four defendants guilty and sentenced them to between 2 and 3 years in prison on21 January.

Three of the four defendants were released on bail pending an appeal.





Updated: Royalist plotting

19 09 2019

Among others, Khaosod noted the “report” that was “seen on PM [Gen] Prayuth Chan-ocha’s desk during a parliament session on Wednesday” when he did not respond to his unconstitutional oath.

That official document is apparently titled “Network Plotting to Destroy the Nation…”. Initially, “Government spokeswoman Naruemon Pinyosinwat said the report was compiled by officials who work on ‘national security issues,’ but declined to elaborate, saying the content is ‘classified’.”

Khaosod observed that the “report’s cover photo appears to show the aftermath of a recent bomb attack in Bangkok.”

The Bangkok Post has more detail, translating the report’s title as “network of elements sabotaging the nation…”. Its anonymous “source within the government” disclosed that the report was “prepared for a briefing by intelligence and security agencies,” with “the elements” claimed to be “sabotaging the nation” are “political figures whose acts are deemed to offend the high institution of the monarchy.”

In other words, as has been since the period leading up to the 2006 military coup, the royalist military and its supporters are concocting yet another “plot” against the monarchy. This follows concoctions like the Finland Plot and the infamous anti-monarchy “plot” and “diagram” under the royalist military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has confirmed that it “has information about a network…”.

As the Post observes, no names have been mentioned, but Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong “had previously mentioned some groups which he believed intended to harm the country…” and referred to “a movement which was trying to provoke a civil war between ‘pro-democracy’ and ‘pro-junta’ factions.” He was essentially attacking the Future Forward Party.

And it was only a few days ago that the Criminal Court ruled that ultra-royalist prince Chulcherm Yugala, who declared the Future Forward Party dangerous republicans “seeking to overthrow the monarchy,” had not libeled that party.

Quite obviously, the military, its ISOC – an “intelligence” agency – and the regime is going to use the monarchy against democratic and parliamentary opposition.

Such plotting by the regime may be dismissed as the musings of old generals who crave power and serve the ruling class.

However, such maniacal plotting in the military and probably in the palace has real and terrible consequences such as military coups, lese majeste, jailings, bashing of opponents, enforced disappearance and torture and murder.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

Even in recent days, the family of victims of such accusations have been harassed by the regime thought police. Kanya Theerawut, the mother of missing political refugee Siam Theerawut, disclosed “that the Rights and Liberties Protection Department [a useless part of the Ministry of Justice] … told her not to take her son’s case to the UN, as it could ruin the country’s image.” We think the regime has done plenty to ruin Thailand’s image. She was also “visited and questioned by Special Branch officers…”, which is a standard regime means of intimidation.

It is the royalist plotting that is most intense and most deranged. It is also hugely expensive. This regime plotting is far more dangerous than anti-monarchists.

Update: A reader points out that the report on the political harassment of Kanya came just a couple of days after Shawn Crispin at Asia Times erroneously claimed: “Political scores are being aired and contested in the open, not through late-night police state knocks on the door…”. Like the reader, we are confused as to why a journalist would want to whitewash the current regime’s political repression.





Where are they? II

17 05 2019

Regime and monarchy critics Chucheep Chivasut (known as Uncle Sanam Luang), Siam Theerawut, and Kritsana Tupthai have been forcibly disappeared, may have been detained incommunicado or may have been killed. No one seems to know.

The junta has to come clean on their disappearance, whether that’s saying exactly where they are or bringing them before a court.

In the meantime, readers may find two recent accounts useful. First, on the hunting down of exiled critics of the monarchy, see Pravit Rojanaphruk’s op-ed. Second, read Korakot Phiangjai’s excellent account of Siam’s life and wonder how it is that such a person becomes an “enemy” and is hunted down by a murderous regime.

Thailand has been through some dark times and things do not look like they are going to improve.





Where are they? I

14 05 2019

Regime and monarchy critics Chucheep Chivasut (known as Uncle Sanam Luang), Siam Theerawut, and Kritsana Tupthai have been forcibly disappeared.

Prachatai reports that “both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have expressed their concerns over the activists’ safety and called on the Thai government to disclose information about their whereabouts.”

In Bangkok, parents of Siam Theerawut “visited government offices and diplomatic missions in Bangkok on Monday to seek information about his fate.”

Like the other two, Siam seems to have been detained in Vietnam and deported to Thailand. However, “neither Thai nor Vietnamese authorities acknowledge holding them.”

Police have reportedly stated that they have no knowledge of the men and their whereabouts. Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has denied the three are in state custody.

A Bangkok Post editorial, written in careful language, observes that “Thailand’s already battered human rights record has fallen another notch following reports of the mysterious disappearance of three activists accused of lese majeste while in exile in Vietnam.”

The editorial admits that these cases follow the gruesome murders of two other exiles in Laos and the disappearance and presumed murder of Surachai Danwattananusorn, all critics of the regime and the monarchy.

These cases have also been scrupulously avoided by the military regime. Why is this? Why will no one take up the cases? Why will they not say anything? The answer is most likely lurking in the nature of the monarchy and the new reign. If not murdered already, these victims might be held at Dhaveevatthana prison. In the kingdom of fear, would anyone dare ask and/or say?








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