Activist no security threat: Don

Activist no security threat: Don

People lay flowers in front of a picture of missing activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit on the skywalk at the Pathumwan intersection on Friday. (Photo from @TLHR2014 Twitter account)
People lay flowers in front of a picture of missing activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit on the skywalk at the Pathumwan intersection on Friday. (Photo from @TLHR2014 Twitter account)

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said on Wednesday Wanchalearm Satsaksit, the activist who disappeared from the streets of Phnom Penh last week, didn't have political refugee status, so Thailand can only wait for Cambodia to finish its investigation.

The minister made the remark in parliament in response to questions raised by the opposition, who demanded the government explain its role in Mr Wanchalearm's disappearance.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Mr Wanchalearm didn't have political refugee status and isn't on the UNHCR's list of political refugees either, Mr Don said.

He told parliament that Mr Wanchalearm bears little significance in terms of international and security affairs, so he should not be considered a threat to security.

Regarding his disappearance, Cambodia is investigating the matter and all the Thai government can do is to ask Cambodia to follow up on the case, Mr Don said. "We cannot speculate as to his whereabouts until we receive an answer [from Cambodia]," the minister said.

Rangsiman Rome, a Move Forward Party MP who is also spokesman of the House committee on legal affairs, justice and human rights, raised the issue of Mr Wanchalearm's disappearance in parliament yesterday, saying the government has not done enough to find the missing activist. Mr Rangsiman said Mr Wanchalearm is a political refugee who needed protection.

"The government isn't paying any attention. Since Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha came to power, nine activists have disappeared. But the government has not given any explanation," Mr Rangsiman told parliament.

On Tuesday, Cambodian police said they will investigate Mr Wanchalearm's disappearance, but denied any involvement in what rights groups claimed was an abduction.

Cambodian National Police spokesman Pol Lt Gen Chhay Kim Khoeun insisted Cambodian authorities did not arrest the activist, as fears mounted for his safety.

Mr Wanchalearm was dragged into a car in broad daylight on June 4 in the Cambodian capital, according to a Human Rights Watch report, which cited witnesses and security camera footage.

Last week a Cambodian interior ministry spokesman dismissed the report as "fake news".

Thai police previously denied any knowledge of Mr Wanchalearm's whereabouts, while a Foreign Ministry spokesman said it has asked the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh to gather information.


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