8 May marks 1 year since Siam Theerawut went missing after being extradited from Vietnam along with other 2 self-exiled activists. His family’s attempts to discover his whereabouts have yielded no progress.
Siam Theerawut, a self-exiled political activist, was reportedly arrested in Vietnam and extradited to Bangkok on 8 May 2019, along with 2 other Thai activists in exile, Chucheep “Uncle Sanam Luang” Chiwasut and Kritsana Tubthai.
Siam’s younger sister and mother said that they have been checking on Siam’s whereabouts with the Thai Crime Suppression Division, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and the Vietnamese Embassy over the past year. However, every attempt failed.
“I don’t know how I will struggle on. We cannot dig into it at all. If we can dig into one point, we will find a way out. … If they give us only 1 percent of the information, that will be enough for us to move further, but there is nothing at all.” said Kanya, Siam’s mother.
“We miss him, we are concerned. If I did not have the monks to depend on, I would be in trouble. I went to see a monk and he said that he is not dead, is still alive. So I’m okay. It makes me feel that Siam is still alive.”
Before fleeing the country, Siam took part in “The Wolf Bride”, a period comedy that provoked some groups of people to file a lawsuit under Article 112 (the lèse majesté law) in 2013. Others involved in staging the play, Pornthip Munkong and Patiwat Saraiyaem, were arrested and spent two years in prison.
Left to Right: Chucheep, Siam and Kritsana portrait on passports used for entering Vietnam. Later, they were arrested for passport forgery.
Siam fled the country at the age of 29 at some point after the 2014 military coup when all Article 112-related cases were revived. In 2018, the authorities alleged that he was involved with the Thai Federation group, an anti-monarchy group.
Timeline of the disappearance
- 5 December 2018 The Thai Federation group invite their followers to wear black shirts with the group’s symbol in Bangkok and other provinces. Many were later prosecuted.
- 7 December 2018 Deputy PM Gen Prawit Wongsuwan welcomes the Lao Minister of Defence, General Chansamone Chanyalath and discusses the issue of Thai political exiles in Lao. Chansamone admitted that there was a movement on the Lao side but it had few people. The Thai Federation group operated through radio programmes. The Ministry of National Defence would deal with it, but the movement was nothing to worry about since they could do nothing.
- 12 December 2018 In Lao, Surachai Danwattananusorn (Sae Dan), another famous self-exiled political activist, goes missing along with other 2 activists; Kraidet Leulerd, or Kasalong, and Chatchan Bupphawan, or Phuchana. The Thai exiles acknowledged that they would have to lay low whenever the Thai and Lao authorities talk about cooperation. But Surachai did not.
- 13 December 2018 Thai PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha visits the Lao President in Vientiane.
- 26-29 December 2018 2 bodies are washed ashore alongside the Maekhong River. DNA tests identify them as Kraidet and Chatchan. The internal organs had been removed and replaced with cement and the faces were mutilated. Surachai’s whereabouts remain unknown until now.
- 8 May 2019 The Thai Alliance for Human Rights (TAHR) based in the United States reports that Siam, Chucheep and Kritsana were arrested some time earlier and deported from Vietnam .
- 9 May 2019 Siam’s relatives file a missing person report. The Crime Suppression Division do not accept the report as there is no arrest report.
- 10 May 2019 Siam’s relatives file a request with the Crime Suppression Division Commander to be informed about Siam’s arrest. Human Right Watch and Amnesty International issue statements calling on the Thai authorities to disclose the whereabouts of Siam, Chucheep and Kritsana.
- 13 May 2019 Siam’s family and friends go to the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand to call on the Vietnamese authorities to address the disappearance. They also file petitions with the National Human Rights Commission and the European Union.
- 14 May 2019 Siam’s family and friends go to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Bangkok to give information regarding Siam. They also urge the OHCHR to help finding him.
- 16 July 2019 Siam’s sister says that the Thai Embassy in Hanoi has asked the Vietnamese authorities about the entry of Siam and his colleagues into Vietnam. However, the authorities did not have any information.
- 8 August 2019 Thai political activists in Europe gather at the Thai Embassy in Paris holding photos of 10 Thai activists who had either gone missing or been killed since 2016.
- 12 September 2019 Siam’s mother says at the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) that the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD) told her not to take her son’s case to the UN as it could damage the country’s image.
- 10 October 2019 Pranee Danwattananusorn, Surachai’s wife, files a petition with the Royal Thai Police Commander to investigate the disappearance of Surachai and other activists .
- 12 March 2020 Siam’s portrait is exhibited at the public forum to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit along with other cases on at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre .
Prachatai English edited the detail in 12th March 2020 part. Siam's portrait was not a part of "For Those Who Died Trying" exhibition.