No justice: One year later, Thai dissidents are still missing in Cambodia | Censored News

Amnesty International called on Thailand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to disappear in Phnom Penh a year after the Cambodian government has still not fulfilled its obligation to investigate his “enforced disappearance.” Independent investigation of the case.

Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a critic of Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the military coup he led in 2014, was dragged into a car in broad daylight on the streets of the Cambodian capital on June 4 last year. Car, never heard of him since then. .

“This negligent investigation is at a standstill. Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaign activities, Ming Yuha, said in a statement on Friday that the past year was characterized by procrastination, mutual accusations, and nothing credible. Efforts to investigate the real situation of Wanchalearm.

“The Cambodian authorities have been failing to properly investigate Wanchalearm’s enforced disappearance, which clearly violates Cambodia’s international human rights obligations.”

At the same time, Amnesty International also expressed concern about Thailand’s apparent determination. Hunt down political activists And critics who have been in exile.

Human rights watchdogs stated that Wanchalearm’s disappearance corresponds to “deeply shocking patterns of kidnapping and killings” in which at least nine Thai activists living on the borders of neighboring countries such as Laos and Vietnam have occurred since June 2016.

Human Rights Watch has previously condemned the kidnapping as “a new and dangerous turn” for activists and government critics.

The Cambodian and Thai authorities said they are investigating the case.

Caught by the video

After the abduction of the then 37-year-old Wanchalearm in 2020, security camera footage released by the media showed that a blue Toyota Highlander had left the scene outside the Phnom Penh apartment where he was last seen.

The video also showed two men who appeared to have witnessed the kidnapping.

Wanchalearm’s sister Sitanun told the media that she was talking on the phone with him and heard him repeatedly screaming: “I can’t breathe”, and then the phone was cut off.

Witnesses also told reporters that when the attacker attacked Wanchalem, he repeatedly screamed: “Please help!” in Khmer.

Before the incident, there were reports that an unidentified man with a flat hair had been following the self-exiled radical. He belonged to the anti-dictatorship democratic united front and was known as the “Red Shirt Army.”

Wanchalearm fled Thailand in 2014 Shortly after the coup that appointed Prayut as the country’s military leader. Prayut was later elected as prime minister in a long-delayed election, which critics said was rigged.

The thorn beside Prayut

Even during his self-exile, Wanchalearm was still politically active, often using social media to criticize the Thai authorities. The day before his disappearance, Wanchalearm posted a video criticizing the prime minister on Facebook.

Before his disappearance, the Thai authorities had filed criminal charges against him.

In 2018, they filed charges against the activist under the Computer Crimes Act, accusing him of posting anti-government materials on a satirical Facebook page.

According to reports, the Thai authorities also requested the extradition of Wanchalearm from Cambodia at the time, although Phnom Penh has not publicly acknowledged any such requests.

Wanchalearm was also one of many activists and politicians summoned after the coup in May 2014. The Thai authorities filed charges against him for failing to report to the police.

Since September 2020, Cambodia has formally conducted a criminal investigation into the disappearance of Wanchalearm, but the case has made little progress.

Amnesty International stated that it is “deeply concerned” that the Cambodian authorities “failed to fulfill their obligations” to conduct “swift, thorough, impartial and independent investigations” into the case.

Sitanun provided evidence of her brother’s disappearance to the Phnom Penh court in December 2020, but the authorities have not reported any new investigations since then.

Amnesty International said: “The lack of response from the Cambodian authorities and the lack of due diligence on the new evidence provided by Wanchalearm’s sister have exacerbated fundamental concerns about the credibility of the investigation.”

Wanchalearm’s sister Sitanun has been leading the struggle, putting pressure on the Cambodian and Thai governments to find his brother who has disappeared since June 4 last year [File: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP]

Cambodian police told AFP that they are investigating but also suspect that Wanchalearm was kidnapped.

“So far, we don’t have any new information. We are doing our best to collect any clues to confirm whether such cases occurred in Cambodia,” said Chhay Kim Khoeun, a spokesperson for the Cambodian National Police.

The Thai authorities stated that they are also investigating, but the investigation is led by Cambodia.

In view of the “obvious failure” of the Cambodian investigation, Amnesty International urged Thailand’s Attorney General to “immediately initiate” a formal investigation coordinated with the country’s Human Rights Commission, “to further maintain the independence and credibility of the procedure”.

Amnesty International also once again called on the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to intervene not only in the Wanchalearm case, but also other Thai exiles who have been killed or kidnapped in recent years.

ASEAN is a regional group composed of 10 countries and has a non-interference policy.

“It is shameful for ASEAN and AICHR to remain silent in the face of cross-border enforced disappearances in the region,” Amnesty International said. “This is the absolute worst regional cooperation. The inaction of the regional institutions has contributed to rampant impunity, injustice and human rights violations.”

Amnesty International has previously expressed concern about the safety of exiles from neighboring Thailand who are seeking extradition from Thai authorities.

Amnesty International stated that in every case, the Thai authorities sought to arrest or extradite these people because the criminal charges they filed for exercising their right to freedom of speech are usually online, and in some cases during exile.

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