Social media lit up this afternoon with speculation that Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul has been “disappeared.”
Over months and years, the military junta has been hunting Ko Tee, alleging lese majeste, anti-monarchy plots and more, while Ko Tee has poked back, angering the short-tempered royalist generals who are Thailand’s dictators.
The speculation is that the military dictatorship has sent teams of assassins to hunt him down.
Update 1: Khaosod reports that:
Word that Wutthipong “Ko Tee” Kochathmmakun had been abducted began spreading early Monday morning by another exile, Los Angeles-based journalist Jom Petchpradab. Jom wrote that Ko Tee was abducted by 10 armed Thai men in all black and wearing hoods Saturday night in Laos and likely taken back into Thailand.
Jom’s report remains unverified, but if this is an enforced disappearance, then there will be silence. Khaosod continues:
Jom said his account was based on that of two men who were with Ko Tee at the time but either were not taken or managed to get free.
He quoted the two unidentified friends, who claimed their heads were covered with cloth while another piece of cloth was stuffed into the mouths of all three as they were dragged into a residence.
“Those who arrested us spoke Thai,” Jom wrote, quoting the men. “They used an electric shock device and applied it to our necks. Each of us was then assaulted and threatened to not make any noise, not to cry out. At the same time, [the source] said he heard Ko Tee say, ‘Ouch. Can’t breath,’ and then Ko Tee went quiet.”
Jom also posted photos of what were described as the cloth and plastic wrist restraints used in the abduction.
A fellow activist, Nithiwat Wannasiri, “said he was unsure whether Ko Tee had been abducted but said no one has been able to contact him since Saturday.”
The story then refers to the earlier disappearance of another activist:
[Nithiwat] … added that he wouldn’t be surprised because a lesser-known dissident, Ittipon Sukpaen, aka DJ Sunho, disappeared from Laos in June 2016, and no one has seen him since.
“I believe Sunho is dead. I can’t conclude if Ko Tee has been forced to disappear, however,” Nithiwat said from Laos.
An attorney representing Ittipon’s family said in July 2016 they also believed he was dead.
It appears that there was a warning from Lao authorities:
A member of the Thai dissident community living in Laos said they were warned by Laotian authorities last week that they were “being hunted down” by those from the other side of the border, a reference to Thai authorities. Many temporarily moved to safer locations, the source said, requesting anonymity for fear of his safety.
Update 2: The Bangkok Post has reported on this, in somewhat odd terms. In a photo insert quoting Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan using the usual Sgt Schultz line, the report states that the “rumor” is that Ko Tee was “rounded up by troops while hiding in Laos.” We assume the report means Thai troops operating either clandestinely in Laos or with the connivance of the government there. It adds that the military dictatorship has been keen to have Ko Tee silenced, to “prevent his group criticising the Thai regime via community radio stations based in Laos.”