Tag Archives: Death Squads

Another enforced disappearance of a Thai dissident

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Thai military death squads are still operating in Cambodia and Lao. The latest Thai dissident to be disappeared is Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a prominent Thai pro-democracy activist living in exile in Phnom Penh.


Human Rights Watch reported that at about 5:54 p.m. on June 4, 2020, a group of armed men abducted Wanchalearm as he walked on the street to buy food in front of his apartment, and took him away in a black car, according to several witnesses and apartment security cameras. [See https://bit.ly/2MAdMIh ]


Wanchalearm is a prominent pro-democracy activist affiliated with the “Red Shirts.” He fled to Cambodia after Generalissimo Prayut’s May 2014 military coup. He continues to be politically active in exile, frequently making comments critical of the Thai government on social media. In 2018 a senior Thai police officers vowed to bring Wanchalearm back to Thailand one way or another.

Wanchalearm’s sister, who was talking on the telephone with him when the abduction occurred, heard him scream, “Argh, I can’t breathe,” before the call was cut off.


If Wanchalearm does not re-appear very soon, it is feared that he will have been murdered by Thai junta death squads. These death squads have committed previous crimes against Thai dissidents in neighbouring countries.


No one should be under the illusion that Thailand has returned to democracy, despite recent elections. The military is still very much in charge and the repression continues.

See previous articles relevant to this topic




Parliamentary Dictatorship? Now we have the real thing!

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

During the period of the democratically elected governments led by Taksin Shinawat, many Thai reactionary academics, NGO activists and Yellow Shirts whined about a “Parliamentary Dictatorship”. This was merely because Taksin’s party had an overwhelming majority in the elected parliament and many of his supporters were also in the fully elected Senate. Of course, it was pure nonsense and it was obviously a ploy to justify opening the door to military intervention.

But now in Thailand we have the real thing. We have a military-appointed Senate and an engineered parliamentary majority for Generalissimo Prayut and his junta, despite the fact that Prayut’s party and various allies, won less votes than anti-military parties. [See https://bit.ly/2Wm6bzI ].

So what are the consequences of the present Parliamentary Dictatorship?

The junta will continue in power and there will be no change to the militarisation of society. Soldiers will act like policemen, hounding and interrogating anyone suspected of having pro-democracy sympathies. Soldiers will muscle their way into public meetings, filming participants at will. They will sit in at negotiations between trade unions and employers and any improvement in wages and conditions will be suppressed by soldiers. Troops will intervene in all forms of protests, from strikes to local village protests over environmental issues.


The militarisation of schools and colleges will continue and pro-military brain-washing of the younger generation will continue through the media and through Children’s Day events.

“Academic conferences are not military camps”

Military corruption and nepotism will continue and the generals will carry on with their arms shopping sprees, paid for by an ever-bloated military budget.

The use of the draconian lèse-majesté law and the so-called computer crimes law will continue as a tool to stifle freedom of expression. Prisoners of conscience will still spend years in jail. Alternative media will be persecuted.[See https://bit.ly/2wFBxXt Also https://bit.ly/2WCrr44].


Migrants and refugees in Thailand will receive poor treatment and some will be deported back to be jailed or killed by despotic regimes. [See https://bit.ly/2KBFchd ].

The courts will continue to act as agents of the military junta and the National Human Rights Commission will carry on turning a blind eye to government abuses of human rights. Rich people and generals will get away with all kinds of crimes, including encroachment of National Parks, while poor villagers are subjected to stiff punishment.

Violent attacks upon and disappearances of dissidents will continue, both by the junta’s thugs in Bangkok and the junta’s death squads acting across the border in Lao or Cambodia. [See https://bit.ly/2WYJ2aGhttps://bit.ly/2WW4dqB ].


The military will still be in charge of policy in Patani, with military suppression of the right to self-determination by the Muslim Malays being prioritised over a political and peaceful solution. [See https://bit.ly/2QTqJ1n , https://bit.ly/2bemah3 ].

The junta will continue its neo-liberal economic policies which favour the rich and increase inequality and any dreams of building a genuine Welfare State will have to be put on hold. The untold wealth controlled by the nasty idiot King Wachiralongkorn will not be curbed. Nor will his disgusting behaviour.

All this will continue unless ordinary Thais get organised in a pro-democracy social movement which eventually overthrows the military junta and the system of Guided Democracy.


Two months after junta’s election: dictatorship and brutality continue

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Two months after the Thai junta’s flawed election, nothing has changed despite the junta party losing the popular vote to pro-democracy parties.

The junta is still in charge and no new government has been formed. The 250 junta-appointed senators are in place, ready to lift their hands up to vote for Generalissimo Prayut’s continued premiership. [See “Thai Politics after the 2019 Election” https://bit.ly/2UsA30a ].


Pro-democracy activists are still having to appear in the Kangaroo Courts, accused of violating the junta’s illegitimate laws by staging peaceful protests. Some were protesting against the cold-blooded killings 9 years ago of redshirt pro-democracy demonstrators at the hands of Generalissimo Prayut and the military appointed PM Abhisit Vejjajiva.


More charges are being sought by the junta against leaders of pro-democracy parties in an attempt to undermine them. Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has been suspended as an MP by the Constitutional Kangaroo Court. The charges are extremely dubious. Yet the election fraud by Prayut and his gang have never been considered by any courts.


And most shockingly of all, the junta’s death squads are still operating against dissidents in exile in Lao. Recently, Chucheap Chewasut (or Uncle Sanam Luang), Siam Teerawut and Kritsana Tapthai were detained by Vietnamese authorities while attempting to cross the border from Lao. They were handed over to Thai officials and immediately disappeared. There are serious concerns that they have been murdered by a Thai junta death squad.

Chucheap Chewasut or Uncle Sanam Luang
Siam Teerawut

This shows that the Vietnamese government is cooperating with the Thai junta’s murderous policies. The Malaysian government has also handed over Thai dissidents to the junta. This is an indication of the total lack of basic human rights in South-East Asia.

Earlier this year, DNA analysis confirmed that two bodies found in the Mekong River at Nakorn Panom were that of “Pu-Chana” and “Kasalong”, close comrades of Surachai Darnwatananusorn. There was also a third body in the river which belonged to Surachai. That body disappeared. All three men had been living together in exile in Lao after Prayut’s military coup. They had been missing from their homes for over a month and there were clear signs of abduction. The bodies were washed ashore on the Thai side of the Mekong River. The victims had been brutally mutilated, killed, tied up in sacking with concrete weights, and thrown in the river. Evidence points to the actions of a junta death squad. [See https://bit.ly/2WW4dqB ].


Now the members of the radical music group “Faiyen”, who are also in Lao, are in mortal danger of being murdered. A campaign to save them has gone viral with the slogan #SaveFaiyen. But social media campaigns are not enough. Faiyen group members need concrete support to move to a third country in Europe and be given asylum. Procedures are in motion, but it is hoped that they can escape to safety before the death squads reach them.

Faiyen members with Surachai

All these exiles were critics of the monarchy and the military junta. Chucheap Chewasut ran an opposition internet radio station under the name “Uncle Sanam Luang” before his disappearance.

Romchalee Sinseubpol, a singer in the Faiyen group, also ran an opposition radio station under the name “Yammy”. She, along with other members of Faiyen were active on social media, criticising the monarchy.


Two months after the Thai election, it is back to the junta’s blood-spattered business as usual.

bloody prayut

Thai junta death squads eliminate exiled opponents

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Prayut’s military junta in Thailand have blood on their hands once again. Death squads have crossed the border into neighbouring Lao to abduct and murder exiled opponents and critics of the junta and the monarchy.

“Pu-Chana”, Surachai Darnwatananusorn and “Kasalong”. Photo from Prachatai.

DNA analysis has confirmed that two of the bodies found in the Mekong River at Nakorn Panom were that of “Pu-Chana” and “Kasalong”, close comrades of Surachai Darnwatananusorn. It is believed by a number of credible journalists that there was also a third body in the river which belonged to Surachai. That body cannot now be located. All three men had been living together in exile in Lao after Prayut’s military coup. They had been missing from their homes for over a month and there were clear signs of abduction.


The bodies were washed ashore on the Thai side of the Mekong River. The victims had been brutally mutilated, killed, tied up in sacking with concrete weights, and thrown in the river.

There is a history of abductions and killings of dissidents living in Lao. “Ko Tee”, a radio broadcaster and Redshirt activist, was abducted by 10 Thai-speaking men in black in July 2017. A year earlier, Ittipon Sukpaen, aka “DJ Sunho”, disappeared and was never seen again.


Prayut and the Thai military junta must be held to account for these brutal murders. Naturally, like all governments which use death squads, they will deny any responsibility and any knowledge of how the killings took place and it will be difficult to find e-mail trails or written confirmation of any direct orders.

But the junta has form.

The top generals were involved with killing unarmed red shirt protesters in 2010. The Thai military operates death squads against Muslim Malays in Patani, and since Prayut’s 2014 coup, the junta have increased repression, especially with the use of the lèse-majesté law.

bloody prayut

The junta’s extreme royalism has encouraged rabid and aggressive royalists such as Maj. Gen. Riantong Nanna, leader of the ultra-royalist vigilante group known as the “Rubbish Collection Organisation”. According to an article in the Japan Times by exiled academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Riantong once wrote on his Facebook page that he would send a gunman to kill a critic of the monarchy who was living in Paris if he could do so. [See https://bit.ly/2UaJYnq]. Riantong has never been admonished by the military junta for his behaviour and he remains director of Mongkutwattana Hospital in Bangkok.

Riantong Nanna

It is highly likely that Surachai and his comrades were abducted and murdered by a death squad linked to the Thai military.

Opponents of the junta living in exile in Lao do not have protection from the Lao government as formal refugees. The Lao authorities merely tolerate their presence on an unofficial basis. This means that armed men can cross over the border and hunt them down at will. For this reason many exiles have to constantly move house. Added to this is the fact that up to now Western countries have refused to take these exiles as asylum seekers.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has also been unhelpful, mainly because Lao does not allow the organisation into the country.

Despite the murders being highlighted by Human Rights Watch [https://bit.ly/2FRHjuS], the Thai National Human Rights Commission has so far been silent, preferring instead to publish proclamations condemning violence used by oppressed opponents of the Thai State in Patani. The NGOs and various political parties have not issued any statements either.

It is unlikely that the Lao government will do anything meaningful to investigate this atrocity. Their priority is to maintain good relations with the Thai ruling class. Besides, at least one Lao activist has also disappeared in recent years.

We must hold the Thai junta to account for the deaths of Surachai and his comrades.