Family holds birthday gathering in memory of missing activist

Missing activist-in-exile Siam Theerawut’s friends and family gathered for Siam’s 35th birthday on Saturday (31 October), as his fate remains unknown.

Siam's pictures hanging from the wall in his family home

Kanya Theerawut, Siam’s mother, said that they would like to organize an event like this every year, so that Siam will not be forgotten and so that his friends and family can meet.

“We’ll keep searching until we know the goal of the people who took his life. What do you want? Are you the only one who has wants? That’s not it. They’ll stay with their people, but they’ve made themselves great until they’ve forgotten to look at other people who are not related to them, but we are under the same sky. We look at the same sun and moon,” said Kanya.

Meanwhile, Siam’s sister said that she has been harassed by police officers, who have visited her at work, and that she has received calls telling her to stop posting on Facebook and threatening her with losing her job.

“The first day we found out he went missing, at first I didn’t suspect anything. I thought he’s still alive no matter what. Right now, I still think he’s alive and that he will always be with us. I hope that someday, we will be together like this, that he will be right here, in this place together,” said Siam’s sister.

Siam's family and friends singing during the event. The song was the Commoner Band's “ฝากรักถึงเจ้าผีเสื้อ” (“Sending Love to You, the Butterfly”), which was also sung in front of the Vietnamese Embassy when Kanya went to file a request for information on her son's disappearance in May 2019. 

Siam was involved in “The Wolf Bride,” a period comedy play that provoked a lawsuit under Section 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. Siam was also accused in 2018 of being a leading member of the Thai Federation.

Siam fled the country after the 2014 military coup when all Section 112-related cases were revived. He went missing in May 2019, after he was reportedly arrested in Vietnam and extradited to Bangkok along with 2 other Thai activists in exile, Chucheep “Uncle Sanam Luang” Chiwasut and Kritsana Tubthai. They have not been heard from since. His family and friends have filed petitions with various agencies calling for investigations into his disappearance, but no progress has so far been made.