Attack against Pavin confirmed, alerting other political exiles

Pavin Chachavalpongpun has reported a physical attack against him, confirming growing public concern at his disappearance from Facebook.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun at FCCT in Bangkok, 30 September 2013 (Source: File)

"I was attacked with a chemical spray at the early hour of 8 July at my apartment in Kyoto," said the Thai professor in exile on Facebook on Saturday (3 August). 

The Facebook post confirmed the growing concern that he had been attacked after he had disappeared from Facebook for many weeks. The public found this unusual, as his page, with 178,831 followers, has regular polemic posts. 

Andrew MacGregor Marshall released a video clip of Pavin talking about the attack during a public seminar at the East-West Center in Washington DC on 23 July, establishing the claim he was attacked. 

According to the video clip, Pavin said the attack began before 5 am when a masked man intruded into his room where he was asleep with his partner. The man pulled off their blanket and sprayed them. The man ran away even though they tried to follow. 

A Japanese forensic unit later arrived at the scene to investigate. Pavin said the Japanese authorities knew his background as a political exile and took him to stay in a safehouse to ensure his safety. 

Before the confirmation of the attack, Jom Petchpradab, a journalist in exile, criticized Pavin for disappearing without notification as 8 political exiles have been killed in the last 3 years after being charged with violating Article 112. 

Andrew McGregor Marshall also criticized Pavin, who stopped talking to him in 2017 because of a quarrel, for the lack of communication. "We all have a duty to keep each other informed about heightened risks."

"If Pavin was attacked in Japan, I was not informed about it, and this puts me and my family at greater risk too, " said Andrew MacGregor Marshall.

This is reportedly the second case this year where political exiles have been attacked. After the military coup in 2014 which installed Prayut Chan-o-cha in power, many activists and intellectuals fled Thailand to evade prosecution, attitude adjustment, and physical attacks. 

Despite fleeing the country, the corpse of 2 exile associates of Surachai Saedan were found earlier this year in Mekong River between Lao and Thailand and Surachai himself is missing. That investigation still has gone nowhere for months. Meanwhile, many political exiles remain in a neighbouring country, unable to leave for a third country, despite requests with the UNHCR.