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Today in the Global Decline of Human Rights and Political Dissidents

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One data point in the global reversal of democracy was the Thai coup of 2014, which brought at least a temporary end to the ability of the Thai people to make choices over whom they wanted as their leader when those choices didn’t coincide with the interests of the military, the royal family, and Bangkok elites. It doesn’t get much attention with the rise of Trump, Bolsonaro, etc., but it was pretty depressing then and remains so today. And, well, this is not exactly promising:

The Thai army said on Wednesday it had no knowledge of two exiled critics of the military and royal family whose bodies police say were found “stuffed with concrete” along the Mekong River border with Laos.

Rights groups had expressed concern at the disappearance last year of the two men and another activist in self-imposed exile in Laos, where all three had fled under threat of arrest after the 2014 military coup in Thailand.

DNA tests confirmed the two bodies, which were discovered late last month, belong to Chatcharn Buppawan, 56, and Kraidej Luelert, 46, Thai authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

The two were close aides to political activist Surachai Danwattananusorn, 78, who has been operating online radio programs critical of Thailand’s junta and monarchy from Laos. He also disappeared last month and is still missing.

The police said the cause of their deaths was unknown.

“There are no signs of bullet holes, but there is a wound in their stomach which has been cut open and stuffed with concrete and tied to make it sink. There are also no stab wounds,” Police Major General Thanachart Rodklongtan told Reuters.

The activists’ disappearance from Laos raised concerns among rights groups that critics of the Thai monarchy and army are being targeted in exile.

A military officer, however, dismissed any idea of army involvement in the disappearances.

Yeah, sure, whatever.

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