#SaveFaiyen trends on Twitter amidst safety concerns for political refugees

#SaveFaiyen trended on Twitter over the weekend amidst concerns over the safety of Thai political refugees in neighbouring countries, while a campaign has been set up calling for UNHCR, the Lao authorities, and the French authorities to protect refugees and provide them safe passage out of dangerous areas.

The #SaveFaiyen Change.org campaign page

Last week, the exiled activist group Action for Democracy (ACT4DEM) set up a Change.org campaign under the title “#SaveFaiyen” (#อย่าฆ่าไฟเย็น), addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Lao government, and the French government. The campaign claims that the band Faiyen, a group of protest musicians in exile in Laos, received information that they will be seized by Thai soldiers within this week, and calls for the relevant authorities to protect Faiyen and to take them out of danger.

The campaign says that Faiyen was formed after the violent suppression of the demonstrations during April – May 2010 to protest the military’s violence against the people. They have sung at protests and use music to protest against the imprisonment of many political prisoners. Following the 2014 military coup, the group was ordered to report to the NCPO. They refused and instead went into exile.

The campaign also says that, for the past five months, the group has been appealing to UNHCR, the EU, and the French government for protection and safe passage to a third country.

Concerns for the safety of Thai political activists in exile have been rising over the past week, as a report surfaced around 9 May of the disappearance of three activists in exile in Vietnam: Chucheep “Uncle Sanam Luang” Chiwasut, Kritsana Tupthai, and Siam Theerawut. Their disappearance also came after the disappearance of Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Saedan, an activist in exile in Laos, and the discovery of the mutilated bodies of Phuchana and Kasalong, two of Surachai’s companions, in late 2018 – early 2019.   

Related: 

As of 21 May, the campaign has over 1000 signatures, while the hashtag #SaveFaiyen briefly made it to the top 10 Twitter trend over the weekend.