Political activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit was kidnapped at gunpoint and bundled into a vehicle by unknown gunmen in Cambodia, rights activists said on Friday, in the latest in a series of mysterious disappearances of South-east Asian dissidents living in exile.
“Satsaksit, 37, was kidnapped at gunpoint as he walked on a street in front of his apartment in the capital, Phnom Penh, on Thursday,” New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams said: “The abduction of a prominent Thai political activist on the streets of Phnom Penh demands an immediate response from Cambodian authorities.”
A Cambodian police spokesman, on the other hand, said that the authorities had not detained or arrested the activist and there was “not enough information for police to open an investigation”.
Wanchalearm fled from Thailand after a 2014 military coup. He had been summoned by military authorities before he left.
He kept up his political activity in exile which led to Thai authorities issuing an arrest warrant for him in 2018 for violating a Computer Crime Act by operating a Facebook page critical of the military government.
According to a 2015 Thai report, Wanchalearm was among 29 exiled activists accused of violating a “lese majeste law” that makes it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the monarchy.
At least eight Thai activists who fled after the 2014 coup and took refuge in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have disappeared, associates and rights groups say, with some found dead.