Cover photo by iLaw

Yesterday (13 May 2019), the family and friends of “Siam” have gone to lodge their complaints with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand to ask for help to look for Siam, who was last seen in Vietnam and has reportedly been deported to Thailand.

They demand that, if Siam is held under custody, his whereabouts be disclosed and his family be given access to him. While submitting their letters to the Vietnamese Embassy and the EU, they were continually monitored by officers from the Special Branch, who kept intervening their letter submissions. On 14 May 2019 their target is the United Nations and the family will be there at 11.00 am.

Picture courtesy of the National Human Rights Commission

13 May 2019 since 10.00 am, Kanya and Sathien Theerawut, the parents of “Siam Theerawut”, fellow activists who used to work with Siam, and staff members from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) went to submit a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). They asked for help to look for the three Thai activists who were reportedly arrested in Vietnam and deported to Thailand on 8 May. Their whereabouts is still unknown. The letter was received by National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit.

The family requests that the NHRC inquire as to whether the Thai authorities requested or have been informed about Siam’s alleged deportation to Thailand by the Vietnamese authorities in order that he face legal prosecution in Thailand. Furthermore, they wish to know whether such a deportation has actually taken place and where Siam is held in custody. They also ask the Thai authorities to ensure Siam’s welfare and to adhere to the due process of law with consideration for his human rights.

The HR Commissioner, Angkhana, has promised to look into the case and find out whether or not the matter falls within the NHRC’s jurisdiction. If it does, the NHRC shall summon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the public prosecutors to provide more information.

Picture courtesy of the National Human Rights Commission

According to Sathien, three months ago the family was informed by Siam’s friends that he was likely put under custody in Vietnam. However, this information was far from clear and the family was unable to uncover further information, until it was recently reported on 9 May that Siam had been arrested and deported to Thailand. Siam’s family has thus been trying to look for him.

Then at 13.00, Kanya and her colleagues complained to the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Thailand on Wireless Road and asked for more information about the case. An officer from the Embassy came out to receive the letter in the guard booth at the Embassy entrance.

Kanya and activists submitting their letter of petition to the Embassy of Vietnam – photo by iLAW

Kanya demands to know if it is true as reported that Siam has been arrested and held in custody for making an illegal entry and using a fake passport, as well as how and when the situation unfolded. If her son has really been arrested, she wants to know whether he is still under the custody of the Vietnamese authorities or not. Her last demand, in the case that her son is no longer held in custody by the Vietnamese authorities, is to know whether or not he has been deported to Thailand and if so when. She also demands to be informed of the details of the protocol invoked by Vietnam when deporting a person to another state, particularly with regard to immigration related deportation.

The Vietnamese Embassy Official receiving the letter and promising to keep them informed.

Montanaa Duangprapa from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) is seen speaking to the police under the surveillance of plainclothes officers. Picture courtesy of ประชาไท

TLHR notes interference during the submission of letters. It was observed that a person who claimed to be an officer from the Special Branch was seen talking to an Official of the Vietnamese Embassy before the family and attorneys were allowed to submit the letter. While the Special Branch officer kept taking photos, he did not allow the family and other persons participating in the letter submission to take photos when the letter was handed to the Embassy Official. While talking to the Embassy Official, the Special Branch officer also informed the family that the Embassy would not acknowledge the receipt of the letter by issuing a serial number, but they would keep them informed if there were any progress.

The group then went to the Office of the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand (EU). While the family and TLHR’s staff members were entering the building to submit a briefing and explain about the disappearance of the exiled Thai activists, the Special Branch officer asked to follow them into the building. The EU office thus only allowed the team to submit their briefing while the Special Branch officer continually took photos.

Siam’s family announces that tomorrow on 14 May 2019, they will complain and raise this issue to the attention of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) at the UN Building in Bangkok at 11.00 am.

On 9 May, Kanya also went to request help from the Crime Suppression Division, as its Sub-Division 1 had applied for arrest warrants against Siam, Chucheep Chivasut, aka ‘Uncle Sanam Luang”, and Kritsana Thapthai in the so-called “Organisation for Thai Federation” case. They are accused of committing sedition, violating Section 116 of the Penal Code, and being members of a secret society, which violates Section 209 violation of the Penal Code.

The Momentum”published a profile of Siam Theerawut and described him as a former student of the Faculty of Political Science, Ramkhamhaeng University. He was a member of Prakaifai and involved in conducting dramatic performance workshops for various labor unions. While studying at the university, he was involved in the campaign against the university’s privatization and the anti-Iraq war campaign and engaged in activities to encourage discussion within groups of workers and between workers and students.

Until now, Siam’s family has been subject to surveillance by the Special Branch Police. The officers kept asking them about Siam ever since he sought asylum abroad as he was wanted for a lese majeste charge (the offence of defamation of the King, which violates Section 112 of the Penal Code), as a result of his performance in the “Wolf Bride” performance of stage play.