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AI launches global petition for probe into Thai activist’s abduction

Jun 18. 2020
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By The Nation

Amnesty International is calling on people around the world to take urgent action by writing a petition addressed to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to ask for an “effective, thorough and transparent” investigation into the disappearance of Thai activist in exile, Wanchalearm Satsaksit.

It is also urging calling on people to demand that Hun Sen honour the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which Cambodia is a party to. 

Wanchalearm is among nine Thai activists who sought sanctuary in neighbouring countries after the May 2014 coup and have gone missing in recent years. The bodies of two activists were found stuffed with concrete in the Mekong River in December 2018. 

Amnesty international has also voiced concern over the possibility that governments in neighbouring countries, including Cambodia, have colluded with Thailand in recent years in the forcible return of political dissidents wanted in their respective countries, who would face human rights violations if returned. This includes Cambodians who have fled persecution for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. 

It also says that neighbouring countries, including Laos and Vietnam, have not exercised due diligence in investigating this pattern of abductions of Thai nationals whose extradition has been sought by Thailand. 

Wanchalearm, 37, was reportedly abducted on June 4 from a street in Phnom Penh. His sister said she was speaking to Wanchalearm on the phone at around 4.30pm when she heard him say “I can’t breathe”, and the line was abruptly cut. 

Security camera footage reportedly shows a black Toyota Highlander SUV departing from outside his condominium at around the same time. Like other missing activists, Wanchalearm’s whereabouts remain unknown. 

The activist faces charges of sedition in Thailand, the most recent filed in 2018 under the Computer Crime Act, alleging that he had posted anti-government material on a Facebook group called “Gu Tong Dai 100 Lan Jak Thaksin Nae Nae” (I will certainly receive 100 million from Thaksin). 

Wanchalearm’s Facebook profile states he is in exile because he supports democracy. 

The Thai government reportedly sought his extradition from Cambodia and filed charges against him for failing to respond to a summons issued to many activists after the May 2014 military coup.

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