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The Thai Alliance for Human Rights (TAHR) has issued a statement earlier today (9 May) that three political exiles have been arrested in Vietnam, and have now been handed over to the Thai authorities.

Piangdin Rakthai, a TAHR leader in exile calling for the right of his fellow activists to access fair trial. 

The statement, read by Piangdin Rakthai, a TAHR leader and a political exile himself, said that the three people arrested were Chucheep Cheewasut, an activist and underground radio host known as “Lung Sanamluang,” and two other exiles named Siam Theerawut and Kritsana Tupthai. They were allegedly arrested in Vietnam a while ago, and were sent back to Thailand around yesterday afternoon (8 May). They are now reportedly in Thai custody. 

The TAHR statement expressed concerns about the possibility of torture and intimidation, and questioned whether their return to Thailand is in accordance with Vietnamese and international laws. TAHR also called for the Thai authorities to follow human rights conventions and to treat them as innocence until proven guilty in the trial court, the appeal court, and the supreme court. Until then, TAHR asked that they receive an open and fair trial, and are allowed to be represented by an attorney during their trial.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Siam's family, along with a TLHR attorney, went to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) around 6 PM today (9 May) to report the three activists' disappearance. However, the CSD inquiry official did not accept their report, claiming that the CSD has yet to be notified of the arrest. 

Chucheep is allegedly a key member of the Thai Federation movement, whose supporters are being arrested following the demonstrations in December 2018. TLHR reported that among those arrested included Chucheep’s wife Laddawan Cheewasut and their son Suthawat. They were arrested on 8 December 2018 and was released after being held in custody for 7 days.  

There have been several reports of the disappearances of political exiles. In June 2016, Ittipol Sukpaen, or “DJ Sunho,” another underground radio host, disappeared in Vientiane while living in exile in Laos. Exiled activist Wuthipong “Ko Tee” Kachathamakul, also living in Laos at the time, was also reportedly abducted in July 2017.   

In December 2018, Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Saedan, disappeared along with two other exiled activists, Phuchana and Kasalong (pseudonyms), while living in exile in Laos. Two mutilated bodies were subsequently found washed up on the banks of the Mekhong River near Nakhon Phanom. DNA test identified the two bodies as those of Phuchana and Kasalong. Surachai’s body has not been found, but he is now believed to be dead.

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