Sitanan Satsaksit kneeled outside her brother’s apartment building, her eyes lowered in prayer beneath a wide-brimmed hat. As she tried to reconstruct the events of that evening six months earlier, she heard his distressed voice in her head.
They had been chatting on the phone, she back in their native Thailand and he in his adopted home of Cambodia. An outspoken democracy activist and satirist, 38-year-old Wanchalearm Satsaksit was among more than 100 Thai dissidents who had fled into exile following a 2014 military coup.
He told her he was buying meatballs outside his high-rise in Phnom Penh, the capital, when she heard a commotion, a series of bangs and shouts. Then came his plaintive cry, repeated again and again: “I can’t breathe.”