11 July 2024

Thailand’s well-known political activist Sirawith Seritiwat, alias Ja New, reemerged from a long absence today when he gave a speech at the October 14th memorial on Rajdamnoen Avenue, to commemorate the victims of enforced disappearance.

He said that such disappearances started in Thailand after the coup in 1947, when some politicians, allied with Khana Rassadorn, a group of military officers and civilians involved in the 1932 revolution, which transformed Thailand from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy, were abducted and executed, with the blame being put on southern separatists.

An unknown number of people have also gone missing, and have never been accounted for, since the Black May incident in 1992, with the latest case of enforced disappearance being that of Wanchalerm Sakseksit, who was abducted by unidentified men in Cambodia last year.

Ja New told the crowd that he narrowly escaped abduction himself on January 20th, 2016.

The political activist is renowned for taking a train to the Rajabhakdi Park in Hua Hin, to highlight corruption in the military concerning the park’s development. He was, however, intercepted and taken into custody by military officers mid journey.

Then, on June 2nd last year, he was assaulted by five men as he was walking along Ratchada Soi 5 in Bangkok and was rushed to hospital for treatment of the wounds he sustained.  Since then, he has been keeping a low profile and has not been seen at the protests organized by the Free People and Free Youth movements.

Meanwhile, a flash mob of Srinakharinwirot University students occurred this evening at the Pathumwan skywalk, to highlight the Free People movement’s demands.