See More on Facebook

Culture and society, Politics

Bodies of anti-monarchy activists found in Thailand

DNA tests confirm identities; both found strangled and drowned in river; activist not heard from since December 12.


Written by

Updated: January 23, 2019

A FORENSIC report confirmed yesterday that DNA samples collected from two dead bodies found on the banks of the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom a few days ago matched the DNA of two missing dissidents who were close aides of former anti-monarchist activist Surachai “Saedan” Danwattananusorn.

An official report from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Bangkok’s Police Hospital indicated that one of the bodies might be that of leftist activist “Comrade Kasalong” as its DNA matches that of his son, Nakhon Phanom police chief Pol Major Thanachart Rodklongtan said.

Meanwhile, the DNA of the son of another political activist “Comrade Poochana” matched that of the second body.

Both Kasalong and Poochana, along with Surachai, had not been heard from since December 12, according to their relatives, who believed they might have been living in exile in neighbouring Laos.

The relatives of Surachai’s two aides called on police to test the DNA of the two bodies, aged between 30 and 50, after hearing that they might be those of their missing relatives.

The two men, whose bodies were found on the banks of the Mekong on December 27 and 29, appeared to have been killed in the same manner – handcuffed and strangled by rope. Their bodies were then weighted down with concrete blocks, wrapped in a net and sack and dumped into the Mekong River, which borders Thailand and Laos.

The 75-year-old former communist insurgent, Surachai, who actively joined the red-shirt movement, had sought refuge in Laos after the May 2014 military coup.

The last time his associates had heard from him was on December 12, when he called them from Laos on a cellphone, a Facebook post by Phouphaaseree Saren said. The post said his house in Laos’ Bolikamxay province was left unlocked, the van he regularly used was still parked and his belongings were untouched. The two fugitives living with him – Poochana and Kasalong – have also gone missing, the post read.

National Human Rights Commissioner (NHRC) Angkhana Neelapaijit said the relatives of Surachai’s two aides had contacted her earlier to express their concern. “I told them to lodge a complaint with police for further investigation, and if they fear injustice, they can seek assistance from the NHRC,” she told The Nation.

Several red-shirt dissidents fled Thailand after the Yingluck Shinawatra government was ousted in a military coup in 2014.

Many of the dissidents in exile are considered to be hardcore red-shirts who also have anti-monarchy sentiments. Five of these dissidents, including Ittipon “DJ Sunho” Sukpaen and Wuttipong “Ko-Tee” Kotthammakhun, have reportedly gone missing.

Their associates say they were murdered in Laos, but there has been no official confirmation and the Laos authorities have refused to acknowledge they had ever lived in the country.

Meanwhile, Surachai’s wife Pranee Danwattananusorn told Prachatai news website that she had lost contact with her husband a long time ago and had only heard about his disappearance via media, adding that all she could do at this point is pray for his safety.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Nation (Thailand)
About the Author: The Nation is a broadsheet, English-language daily newspaper founded in 1971 and published in Bangkok, Thailand.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Culture and society, Politics

Press freedom is deteriorating in Asia, elections may offer a reset button

With many countries going to polls this year, the electorate across Asia have a chance to turn around a worrying press freedom situation. Maria Ressa’s arrest on Wednesday was the latest in a string of blatant attacks on the freedom of the press in Southeast Asia. For those that don’t know, Ressa is an award-winning journalist and CEO of the news website the Rappler. Her coverage of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s extra-judicial war on drugs has received recognition far beyond her borders and as such, she is seen as a direct threat to the government. The latest arrest, made without prior warning, stemmed from a libel case where the complaint was filed five years after the initial story was published. Numerous press alliances, including the Asia News Network, have condemned the arrest as a blatant attack on freedom of the press. As the Philippines chapter of the Centre for Media Freedom and


By Cod Satrusayang
February 15, 2019

Culture and society, Politics

Rappler’s Maria Ressa arrested for cyber libel

Ressa is once again behind bars after Duterte’s government’s arrested the Rappler CEO. Rappler’s Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa was arrested inside her news agency’s headquarters in Pasig City on Wednesday over a cyber libel case. Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted the arrest at around 5 p.m., even as the warrant was already issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 on Tuesday, February 12. READ: Court orders arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa As she was being ushered out of her office, Ressa said she was shocked by her sudden arrest. “It’s a shock, but we are going,” she told reporters. She also said that the NBI agents treated her professionally during the serving of the warr


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 14, 2019

Culture and society, Politics

Thai Princess Ubolratana disqualified from election next month

The Election Commission said that members of the royal family should be “above politics” and therefore cannot “hold any political office”. Thailand’s Election Commission has ruled a princess out of next month’s election as uncertainty hangs over the fate of the political party which tried to nominate her as its candidate for prime minister. The name of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s elder sister, was left out of a list prime minister nominees released by the commission on Monday (Feb 11). There are 69 names, including that of current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, on the list. “All membe


By The Straits Times
February 12, 2019

Culture and society, Politics

South Korea, US ink provisional defense cost-sharing pact

Getting allies to pay ‘their fair share’ has been a major part of President Trump’s rhetoric. South Korea and the United States signed a provisional agreement Sunday on the sharing of costs to maintain US troops here, with South Korea raising its share by 8.2 percent. Seoul’s negotiator, Chang Won-sam, and his US counterpart, Timothy Betts, met in Seoul to ink the contract. Under the new deal, South Korea will pay about 1.03 trillion won ($890 million) to cover the costs of stationing the 28,500 members of US Armed Forces Korea here throughout 2019. The figure reflects the rate of increase of South Korea’s annual defense budget, according to the Foreign Ministry in Seoul. Last year, South Korea paid about 960 billion won to its ally for the same purpose.


By The Korea Herald
February 11, 2019

Culture and society, Politics

Thailand is headed for another political crisis and it can’t stop itself

Prayuth Chan-ocha may be prime minister after elections but what comes after is much harder. On the 16th of May, 1877, French President Patrice de Mac-Mahon dismissed then Prime Minister Jules Simon and named a successor who was rejected by the house of parliament. Mac-Mahon responded by dissolving parliament unilaterally leading to a constitutional crisis which changed the landscape of French politics until well into the 20th century. Thailand may soon experience something similar.


By Cod Satrusayang
February 11, 2019

Culture and society, Politics

Period hut women fear cold nights in Nepal

Cold winter nights add to the trauma of women banished to period huts. Bimala Bohara has been spending five days of a month inside a shed every single time she has had her period since her early teens. Now 28, Bohara said the worst aspect of Chhaupadi is practising the custom in the cold when temperatures plummet and it is almost difficult to fall asleep inside the shed. “We can’t even build a fire inside because the shed gets filled with smoke, and then it becomes suffocating,” said Bohara, who was on the third day of her period in a rural village in Bajhang. Chhaupadi, a deeply rooted Hindu tradition, forces menstruating and postpartum girls and women to be banished to secluded huts. The practice is still prevalent in several districts of Sudurpaschim Province. In some of the province’s districts of Bajhang, Achham, Bajura, heavy snowfall has caused temperatures to drop, making it


By The Kathmandu Post
February 8, 2019