Exiled Thai Human Rights Activist Reportedly Kidnapped By Gunmen in Cambodia

Phnom Penh

Cambodian police have launched an investigation for the suspected kidnapping of an exiled Thai human rights activist in Phnom Penh.

Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a 37-year-old activist who fled Thailand in 2014, was reportedly taken by unidentified gunmen on the evening of June 4. He was talking to his sister, Sitanun, on the phone for 20 minutes, as reported by Reuters.

“Cambodian authorities will investigate this case…we will investigate whether this information is true or not,” spokesman, Chhay Kim Khoeun, told the publication.

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In a statement on Sunday, Satsaksit’s sister said she still does not know what happened to her brother and begged for the people responsible to release him.

“I’m begging the perpetrators here to release Wanchalerm,” she said via Coconuts Bangkok. “We will be waiting for him with hearts full of hope. Just for him to come home safely. We hope that his abduction or forced disappearance will be the last.”

Protesters accused Thailand of the kidnapping during their march outside the Cambodian embassy on Monday. The Thai government denied any knowledge of what happened to Satsaksit.

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After sending a petition to the Thai government on Tuesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said they will support the Satsaksit family during the ongoing investigation.

“Whatever we can cooperate we will do so,” he said. “We will not interfere with the authorities of another country. They have their own investigation mechanism.”

Satsaksit fled to Thailand in 2014 after the military issued a summons following a coup. Then, in 2018, an arrest warrant was issued against him for violating the Computer Crime Act after he operated a Facebook page speaking out against the military government.

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There have been eight Thai activists who fled to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia who recently disappeared. Two of those missing people were found dead in the Mekong River.

Feature Image via Chainwit (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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