Protesters hold banners and portraits of kidnapped Thai activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit outside the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok on June 8. (Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP)
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been widely condemned in Thailand for refusing to use its clout on behalf of a young Thai political dissident who was abducted last week in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital.
The UNHCR’s Bangkok chapter has said in response to requests for comment from Thai media that the issue was “political” and it would not address the case of Wanchalearm Satsaksit.
Wanchalearm, 37, was abducted by a group of unknown men dressed in black and armed with guns in Phnom Penh on June 4. He has not been heard from since. Rights activists believe he has likely been murdered on the orders of the regime in Bangkok, as has happened to several other political dissidents who have sought refuge in neighboring countries since the Thai military seized power in a coup in 2014.
The UN agency’s no-comment stance came after its Swedish-Thai goodwill ambassador, Praya Lundberg, drew flak for similarly brushing off requests to speak up on Wanchalearm’s behalf.