Mock body bags found around BKK with names of the dead or disappeared

On the second day of its campaign about political deaths and exiles, the FreeArts Facebook page has posted a photo of a mock body bag with the name of Nuamthong Praiwan, a taxi driver who crashed his taxi into a military tank in opposition to the 2006 coup.

A mock body bag of Nuamthong Praiwan. (Source: Facebook/FreeArts)

From the photo, the mock body bag seems to have been placed at the “Uncle Nuamthong Pedestrian Bridge”, in front of the Thairath newspaper office on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, where he hanged himself on 31 December 2006, a day after he crashed his taxi into a tank.

His suicide note stated that he wanted to give the lie to a high-ranking army officer who said that no one would die for their ideology, referring to Col Akkara Thiproj, a deputy spokesperson for the military junta, who had said “no one would sacrifice their life for their ideology.”

Nuamthong’s mock body bag is not the first of the campaign. On 28 December, the FreeArts Facebook page published a photo of a mock body bag hanging at Asok intersection with the name tag 'DJ Sunho', the working name of Ittipon Sukpaen, a famous underground radio broadcaster who disappeared while in exile in 2016.

(Left) A mock body bag of DJ Sunho (Right).

The page also mentioned that Ittipon hosted a famous underground radio program ‘Arguing for the royals’ which brings back familiar memories for many people.

“Today, all that we can do is not to forget his story. Some day, we will reclaim justice, and bring back the truth for those that had to flee,” states the post from FreeArts.

In a post published on 27 December that went viral, another mock body bag was found hanging from Memorial Bridge at night.  It bore the name tag ‘Surachai’, possibly referring to Surachai Danwattananusorn or Surachai Saedan, another exiled activist who disappeared in December 2018.

On 27 December, Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer and famous critic of the monarchy posted on Facebook “Next year will be the year of change. Setting our goal, we will bring back home our political refugee friends to celebrate the 2022 New Year together at Ratchadamnoen.”

Since 2016, at least 9 Thai activists have disappeared while living in self-exile in Southeast Asia. They were critics of the monarchy and the military government which staged a coup in 2014. Some of them had been charged under the lèse majesté law, Section 112 of the Criminal Code.

Ittipon Sukpaen and Wuthipong Kachathamkun, aka Ko Tee, 2 famous red shirt activists, disappeared in Lao PDR in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

On 12 December 2018, Surachai Danwattananusorn (Saedan), another famous self-exiled political activist, went missing in Vientiane along with other 2 activists, Kraidej Luelert, or Kasalong, and Chatchan Bupphawan, or Phuchana. Thai exiles recognized that they would have to lay low whenever the Thai and Lao authorities talked about cooperation. But Surachai did not.

Between 26 and 29 December 2018, 2 bodies were washed ashore on the Mekhong River. DNA tests identified them as Kraidej and Chatchan. The internal organs had been removed and replaced with cement and the faces were mutilated. Surachai’s whereabouts remain unknown until now.

On 8 May 2019 the Thai Alliance for Human Rights (TAHR) based in the United States reported that Siam Theerawut, Chucheep “Uncle Sanam Luang” Chiwasut and Kritsana Tupthai, 3 activists in exile, had been arrested and deported from Vietnam. The fate of all three remains unknown. Siam’s family is still looking for him.

On the evening of 4 June 2020, Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a Thai political activist in exile in Phnom Penh, was kidnapped from in front of his condominium. No clues have been found, but Wanchalearm’s family is still looking for him.