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Rights groups, family demand answers on missing Thai activists

AFP  |  Bangkok 

Three Thai activists in exile and accused of insulting the country's powerful monarchy have gone missing, rights groups and a family member said Saturday, as demands mount for answers on their whereabouts.

The activists, Chucheep Chiwasut, who broadcasts political commentary online, and two colleagues, and Kritsana Tupthai, were arrested in early this year and sent back to this week, according to rights groups.

The mother of Siam, 34, said he was last heard from a few months ago.

"He said he is fine, and talked about what he has eaten and places he has visited, but did not say where he was," told AFP, adding she had visited police this week but was told there was no information available.

"I want to know where my son is," she said.

A with Thailand's special branch police confirmed the three men were in but had no information about the arrests.

Thailand's denied they were in Thai custody on Friday.

Scores of dissidents, academics and pro-democracy activists have been pressed into self-exile since the junta seized power in a 2014 coup, in what analysts say is one of the biggest waves of political flight in Thailand's troubled recent history.

The majority fled to neighbouring and to avoid charges and jail terms.

But Chucheep, Siam and Kritsana moved from following the disappearance of three other dissidents who had also sought shelter there.

Two of those men were found in late December in the with concrete stuffed into their stomachs. The government has denied any responsibility.

Prosecutions under Thailand's lese-majeste law, which carries penalties of up to 15 years for insulting the wealthy monarchy, soared after the junta took over.

But activists say the military has also stepped up its pursuit abroad.

"The long arm of repression also reaches across the border as exiled dissidents have been pursued", said Sunai Phasuk, senior Thai expert for

"Nowhere is safe."

has called on the to provide answers.

Lese-majeste prosecutions within the country have fallen since newly-crowned Thai ascended the throne in 2016 following the death of his father

On Friday a prominent pro-democracy activist who was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for sharing an unflattering profile of the on was freed in a royal pardon a little more than a month shy of his sentence ending.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, May 11 2019. 13:36 IST