DNA confirms one of Mekhong bodies as disappeared activist

On 21 January 2019, the son of disappeared activist Phuchana (pseudonym), who prefers to remain anonymous, told Prachatai that the DNA result for one of the mutilated bodies found on the banks of the Mekhong River near Nakhon Phanom confirms that the body is genetically related to him.

Phuchana, along with two other political activists, Surachai Saedan (Surachai Danwattananusorn) and Kasalong, sought political asylum in a nearby country following the 2014 military coup. They disappeared from their residence around 12–13 December 2018. So far, they have been missing for over 1 month.

 

Related: Surachai and refugee friends disappear from home, wife begs those with power to spare their lives

Around New Year, two mutilated bodies were found washed up on the banks of the Mekhong River, generating concerns among the trio’s supporters that the bodies were those of the disappeared activists.

Pranee Danwattananusorn, Surachai’s wife, said that she was also informed of the DNA result by Phuchana’s son, but preferred not to comment for the time being. However, she said that she knew something like this would happen someday. Pranee told Prachatai that, since Surachai’s body has still not been found, she hopes that he might still be imprisoned somewhere, and that it is possible that both Surachai and Kasalong are still alive. She speculated that, in the case that DNA result for the other body proves that it is not Kasalong’s, it might be possible that Phuchana separated from the other two and was caught somewhere. However Pranee said that, because Surachai is a well-known activist, she and their supporters will not stop demanding justice for him, no matter if he is alive or dead.

Kasalong’s brother in law, who also preferred to remain anonymous, also told Prachatai that Kasalong’s family contacted the investigator in charge of the case after Phuchana’s son informed them of the DNA result. The investigator then told them that the DNA result in Kasalong’s case will be available within 2–3 days.