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Sayamol Kaiyoorawong and NHRC Demand Action for Missing Thai Activists

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has stepped up to the plate, submitting an eye-opening investigation report to the Ministry of Justice concerning the mysterious disappearances of nine self-exiled Thai political activists. These individuals, who sought refuge in neighboring countries, have vanished under alarming circumstances, prompting calls for the government to take these cases seriously.

The spotlight is now on Sayamol Kaiyoorawong, a diligent member of the NHRC, who recently handed over the comprehensive report to Somboon Muangklam, an adviser to Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong. Somboon also chairs the committee on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance, making him the perfect recipient to push forward the urgent need for justice.

Ms. Sayamol revealed that the NHRC meticulously investigated complaints regarding these nine missing political dissidents who sought asylum in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam between the years of 2017 and 2021. These missing individuals include Ittipon Sukpaen, Wuthipong Kochathamakun, Surachai Danwattananusorn, Chucheep Chiwasut, Kritsana Thapthai, Siam Theerawut, and Wanchalearm Satsaksit. Tragically, the fate of the last two, Chatcharn Buppawan and Kraidej Luelert, is already known—their lifeless bodies were discovered gruesomely encased in concrete along the Mekong River border with Laos in late 2018.

What ties all these cases together is the grim reality that these activists were all entangled in legal troubles linked to the Computer Crime Act, Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also referred to as the lese majeste law, or were accused of undermining political stability. The NHRC has pointed a stern finger at government negligence, highlighting the distressing lack of progress in bringing the perpetrators to justice, thus suggesting possible involvement of state agencies.

According to the NHRC’s meticulous findings, the state’s failure to cooperate with the governments of neighboring countries has stymied efforts to uncover the complete story behind these disappearances. The agency insists that state authorities must adhere to proper legal protocols to determine the activists’ fates and ensure that those responsible face consequences.

Moreover, the NHRC underscored the necessity of compensating the families of these activists. In accordance with the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act BE 2565 (2022), the government is obligated to offer reparation. However, the agency noted a glaring omission in the Damages for the Injured Person and Compensation and Expenses for the Accused in Criminal Case Act BE 2544 (2001)—it fails to set any compensation criteria for enforced disappearances. To make matters worse, there’s no convincing evidence that state agencies have taken other measures to support the affected families.

Ms. Sayamol made it clear that the missing activists shared a common thread—they all held dissenting opinions against the government. This finding raises serious concerns about the lengths to which state actors might go to silence opposition voices.

In a powerful closing recommendation, the NHRC urged the cabinet to expedite the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. This move would be a definitive step towards ensuring that such tragic disappearances and human rights violations don’t continue to plague those who dare to speak their minds.

So, as we wait with bated breath, the ball is now in the government’s court. Will they rise to the occasion and bring those dark secrets to light? Only time will tell, but for the families of the disappeared, every second counts.


  1. Jane Doe June 12, 2024

    It’s so heartbreaking that these activists have vanished. The government MUST take action.

    • TheObserver June 12, 2024

      While it’s tragic, we need to consider that these activists were breaking the law. Does that justify government involvement in their disappearances?

      • Alex P. June 12, 2024

        No, it doesn’t justify enforced disappearances. Breaking the law should result in legal consequences, not extrajudicial punishments.

      • Jane Doe June 12, 2024

        Exactly, Alex! Regardless of their actions, they still have the right to due process.

    • Mike_lowery92 June 12, 2024

      The NHRC report is a step in the right direction, but will the government actually do anything?

      • SkepticSally June 12, 2024

        Given past inaction, I doubt it. These investigations often go nowhere.

  2. Big_Jim June 12, 2024

    Why should we care about these political agitators? They knew the risks when they went against the government.

    • Sara L. June 12, 2024

      Because human rights apply to everyone, Jim. No one deserves to be ‘disappeared.’

      • Big_Jim June 12, 2024

        If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. It’s that simple.

        • Nate Dogg June 12, 2024

          Legally speaking, state-sanctioned disappearances are crimes too. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  3. Chloe June 12, 2024

    It’s terrifying that people can just disappear like this. It feels like something out of a horror movie.

    • Tim B. June 12, 2024

      Yes, and it’s happening in real life, not just in films. Disturbing indeed.

      • Chloe June 12, 2024

        The real horror is the government’s apparent involvement. If state actors are behind this, accountability seems impossible.

      • SJChronicles June 12, 2024

        And that’s why independent bodies like the NHRC are so critical. They can at least try to hold authorities accountable.

  4. Larry D June 12, 2024

    Could this lead to international intervention? It sounds like it might need bigger players to step in.

    • Internationalist June 12, 2024

      International pressure might help, but countries often hesitate to meddle in others’ internal affairs.

      • Larry D June 12, 2024

        Yeah, true. It would take a significant amount of outrage and proof.

    • Owen June 12, 2024

      There’s an international convention in place, but it’s only as effective as the countries that enforce it.

  5. Grower134 June 12, 2024

    Why isn’t there more media coverage on this? Seems like a major issue!

    • Angela June 12, 2024

      Exactly my thoughts. Mainstream media is too busy covering celebrity scandals.

    • Frank June 12, 2024

      Media coverage can be influenced by those in power. They might not want these stories out there.

      • Angela June 12, 2024

        That’s probably true. We rely too much on media that’s often censored or controlled.

  6. Bookworm June 12, 2024

    Has anyone else read about similar cases in other countries? This isn’t just a Thai problem.

    • D. Scholar June 12, 2024

      Indeed, enforced disappearances are a global issue. Look at Mexico, for example. It’s a widespread tactic.

    • Khun Tony June 12, 2024

      ASEAN neighbors should be standing up and addressing this too. Regional pressure can make a difference.

  7. Sammy G June 12, 2024

    I feel so bad for the families. Imagine not knowing what happened to your loved ones.

    • Mari K. June 12, 2024

      True. The lack of closure must be unbearable for them.

  8. Vivian June 12, 2024

    The NHRC seems to be doing a good job, but they’re still limited by the very government they’re challenging.

  9. M_rado June 12, 2024

    This report highlights how important reforms are. Without systemic change, this cycle of violence continues.

  10. Natalie J June 12, 2024

    It’s a big wake-up call for the international community. Thailand’s human rights record is under severe scrutiny now.

  11. Thomas K June 12, 2024

    I just hope this isn’t swept under the rug like so many other cases. The government must be held accountable.

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