Vietnamese blogger Truong Duy Nhat
Bangkok Post, February 11, 2019
Cases of the sudden disappearance of political dissidents continue to mount. The latest such case occurred in daytime, inside a well-known Bangkok mall. Truong Duy Nhat, a well-known journalist and blogger in Vietnam, was seized and dragged out of Future Park shopping centre. He had just registered his personal details and applied for asylum through the UN refugee office. His disappearance on Jan 26 has received the usual silence from governments involved.
Eyewitnesses to Mr Nhat’s abduction have been found and interviewed — but not by Thai authorities or by Vietnamese diplomats charged with protection of their citizens. The only Thai official to have shown any concern is the high-profile chief of the Police Immigration Bureau, Pol Lt Gen Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn. His unacceptable response came last week. He said he can find no proof that Mr Nhat ever entered Thailand but he will try to investigate reports of his disappearance.
At least it was admission thatauthorities had taken note of what is almost certainly hostile violence by foreigners on Thai territory. Officials claim even more ignorance of a disappearance of a political dissident linked to China. Book publisher Gui Minhai, a citizen of both Sweden and China, was caught on CCTV as he was abducted by a man as Mr Gui left his Pattaya apartment in October 2015. He later surfaced after months in Chinese police custody. Chinese and Thai officials supposedly responsible for law enforcement have stated they have no idea what happened.
The government has the duty to protect foreign visitors, and investigate and reveal details of violence to any of them. The abductions in Thailand of Vietnamese and Chinese who upset their governments are a black mark on the regime. But there is another side of the coin. Last week details emerged from friends and witnesses of the 2016 disappearance in Laos of Ittipon Sukpaen, aka DJ Sunho. Sunho’s abduction — friends and family are certain he was killed — bringing to five the number of Thai citizens known to have been forcibly abducted from their homes in Laos and disappeared by “men in black”.