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Thai Dissidents Are Disappearing, and Families Are Fighting for Answers

Mr. Wanchalerm fled Thailand six years ago after he was ordered to attend a so-called attitude adjustment camp, indoctrination sessions at army bases for those who publicly opposed the coup. Thousands of Thais were forced into these camps, some for weeks at a time.

For the first couple years, he rarely contacted his relatives, worried about their safety and his own, his sister said. But even from self-imposed exile, he continued to post critiques of the military-linked government on social media.

The day before his disappearance on June 4, Mr. Wanchalerm wrote a post on Facebook criticizing Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand, who was the architect of the last coup.

Ms. Sitanan was on the phone with her brother as he left his apartment in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, to buy supplies at a nearby minimart. Suddenly, she heard the urgent voices of Cambodian men and sharp sounds that she described as “pang, pang, pang.”

“I heard it all,” Ms. Sitanan said.

An employee of the minimart, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she was afraid of retribution by the authorities, said that she had seen Mr. Wanchalerm almost every day. For a few days before his kidnapping, a black car had idled outside the store, she said.

Mr. Wanchalerm was surrounded and then bundled into the vehicle, the minimart employee said. Bystanders wanted to help him, but the men were armed.

“We have grave fears for his safety and are concerned that his reported abduction in Phnom Penh on 4 June 2020 may now comprise an enforced disappearance,” said Jeremy Laurence, a media officer for the United Nations human rights agency in Geneva.

Source: NYT > World News

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