Card swapping: The Mekong countries’ problem with activist kidnapping

These were the words of Sitanan, sister of Thai activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, in a phone interview on June 10. The frustration and anguish in her voice transcended the language barrier, evident even before Globe reporter Wanpen Pajai had begun translating.

While Sitanan may hope that Wanchalearm is the last forced disappearance associated with Thailand, the reality is that politically motivated abductions remain commonplace across the Mekong subregion’s borders, and they are unlikely to end with her brother.

Sitanan was the last person to speak with the 37 year old. She was on the phone with him and heard his poignant, potentially final, words “I can’t breathe” as he was bundled into a car by armed men near his riverside home in the Phnom Penh suburb of Chroy Changvar on June 4.

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