Thailand / Cambodia: Where is Wanchalearm Satsaksit? The ASEAN community deserves an answer

The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) is deeply concerned about the abduction of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a Thai political exile who is living in Cambodia, in broad daylight.

It was reported that Wanchalearm Satsaksit was kidnapped on 4th June 2020 in front of his appartment in Phnom Penh, the capital of Camdodia. He was snatched by armed men and taken away in a black car, and there is no news about him since then.

Wanchalearm Satsaksit is one of the many self-exile Thais who have been on the government’s wanted list for violation of the country’s notorious draconian lèse-majesté law. He was critical of the 2014 military coup and among those being prosecuted for refusing the junta summons. There was an arrest warrant issued in 2018 against Wanchalearm Satsaksit with allegation that Wanchalearm Satsaksit has violated the Computer-related Crime Act by operating a Facebook page critical of Thai government. He published a video clip criticizing Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, just one day before his abduction.

What is really appalling is the Cambodian government denied the abduction had taken place and said no investigation was planned. Such response is risking the Cambodian government for being complicit in the abduction of Wanchalearm Satsaksit.

There were at least eight Thai political exiles were abducted in Laos in 2016-18, and the bodies of several disappeared Thai dissidents were later found in Mekong River. Those disappearances have raised suspicions that they had been kidnapped by Thai military-linked death squad.

The abduction of Wanchalearm Satsaksit is also raising the same suspicion of the involvement of Thai military. If such suspicion is proven correct, then it is clearly a breach of international laws and should be considered as illegal intrusion by the Thai military into the territory of other sovereign nations.

We call upon the Cambodian government to act immediately to launch an investigation into the abduction of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, locate him and ensure his safety.

We also urge the Thai government to stop its harassment and repression against pro-democracy activists.

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