One year after a Thai activist went missing in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian government failed to fulfill its mandate to investigate “coercion”, Amnesty International said this in Thailand and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) in conducting an independent investigation into the case.
Wanchalearm Satsaksit, an opponent of Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the army he led in 2014, was dragged into a car at noon on the streets of Cambodia’s capital on June 4 last year and has not heard of him since.
“This neglected investigation has come to a standstill. “The past year has been one of reckoning, finger-pointing and effortless efforts to investigate the Wanchalearm incident,” Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Campaigns, said on Friday.
“The constant failure of the Cambodian authorities to properly investigate the existence of Wanchalearm is a violation of Cambodian human rights laws.”
At the same time, Amnesty also expressed concern about what it looks like to Thailand Pursuing politics and detractors who are already in captivity.
The human rights group says the lack of Wanchalearm is linked to “the most serious kidnappings and killings” since June 2016 by at least nine Thai freedom fighters living across its border in neighboring countries such as Laos and Vietnam.
Human Rights Watch had previously condemned the seizure as “a new and dangerous way” for freedom fighters and government opponents.
Officials in Cambodia and Thailand have said they are investigating the case.
Produced on video
Security cameras published in the newspaper after the capture of the 2020 Wanchalearm 37-year-old show a blue Toyota Highlander leaving the area outside his Phnom Penh home, where he was last seen.
The video also depicts two men who appear to have witnessed the abduction.
Wanchalearm’s sister, Sitanun, was reported to have told reporters that he was talking to her on the phone and heard her screaming: “I can’t breathe” over and over before the phone rang.
The Witnesses also told reporters that when the robbers attacked Wanchalearm, they repeatedly shouted: “Please help us!” in Khmer.
Earlier, there were reports that unidentified men in crewcut style were covering up a freedom fighter, a member of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, dubbed the “Red Shirts”.
This month is the year since Thai anti-government activist Wanchalearm “Tar” Satsaksit went missing following his appearance in Cambodia on June 4, 2020, the family is in trouble but the authorities do not speak up.https://t.co/EoeCxURqv6 pic.twitter.com/FWJM6totZm
– Thai PBS (@ThaiPBSWorld) June 2, 2021
Wanchalearm fled Thailand in 2014 He has just restored the government to the position of Prayuth as the country’s military leader. Prayuth was later elected Prime Minister in an election that was delayed for a time when opponents said he had been replaced.
Thorns on the side of Prayuth
Although he was abroad, Wanchalearm remained politically active, often using media tactics to challenge Thai officials. The day before his disappearance, Wanchalearm had posted a video on Facebook challenging the Prime Minister.
Thai officials falsely accused him before he died.
In 2018, he filed a lawsuit under the Computer Crime Act, alleging that he had posted anti-government statements on a difficult Facebook page.
At the time, Thai authorities also demanded that Wanchalearm be deported from Cambodia, although Phnom Penh did not openly admit that he would accept the offer.
Wanchalearm was also among a group of politicians and politicians who were given permission to carry out the plot in May 2014, and Thai officials accused him of failing to go to the police.
An investigation into the disappearance of Wanchalearm has been under way in Cambodia since September 2020 but has not made any progress in the case.
Amnesty expresses its concern that “Cambodian officials” have failed to “conduct” investigations expeditiously, impartially and independently “in this regard.
Sitanun testified in court in Phnom Penh in December 2020 of the disappearance of his brother but authorities have not said anything new since.
“Inadequate response from Cambodian officials and lack of interest in responding to new evidence provided by the Wanchalearm sister also reinforces the concerns of this investigation,” Amnesty said.
Cambodian police have told AFP reporters they are investigating and suspect Wanchalearm was arrested.
“Right now we have nothing new. We are trying our best to gather as much as possible to confirm whether the crime took place in Cambodia or not, “said Chhay Kim Khoeun, a Cambodian police spokesman.
Thai officials say they are investigating, but it is up to Cambodia to lead the investigation.
In view of the “obvious failure” of Cambodian research, Amnesty has urged the attorney general in Thailand to “immediately launch a” co-operation inquiry into the country’s human rights committee “to maintain the independence and credibility” of the work.
The amnesty reiterated their call for the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to intervene, not only in the case of Wanchalearm but also other Thai slaves who have been killed or detained in recent years.
ASEAN, a regional group of ten countries, has a set of non-restrictive principles.
“The silence of the ASEAN and AICHR in the face of the demolition that has resulted from crossing the region is unfortunate,” Amnesty said. “This is a very regional partnership. Increased punishment, injustice and human rights abuses are compounded by the inaction of the regional organization.”
The amnesty also highlighted the need for protection of Thai slaves in neighboring countries whose interrogation was demanded by Thai authorities.
In both cases, Amnesty states that Thai authorities have demanded that they be arrested or removed from their cases on the grounds that they have exercised their right to freedom of expression, often online and in some cases in captivity.