3 years after Wanchalerm’s enforced disappearance: what else is missing and new things that we gained along the way
The 4th of June has come once again. Family, friends, and society reminisce about the event of Wanchalearm’s enforced disappearance. Wanchalearm Satsaksit or “Tar” was a socio-political activist who embedded a smile on those who still miss his cheerfulness to this day. Today is the day when the CCTV footage was released and the day when people had to be shocked by this heinous action.
Wanchalearm Satsaksit fled from Thailand around May 22, 2014 and spent his life wandering around countries in the Southeast Asia and eventually settled in Cambodia. In a condo on the outskirts of Phnom Penh called the Mekong Garden Condominium, Wanchalearm spent his exile continually criticizing the NCPO government. Among the videos that he created are videos that use the Isaan language to express his political opinions. He would call himself “Tar, the freedman of the Northeast”, discussing about the politics in a humorous way. But this is not Wanchalearm’s first work, he had also been known for making videos campaigning on sex education, which become quite a success (You can visit his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@talearm )
No one really knows what the cause of Wanchalerm’s forced disappearance was. But on this three-year anniversary, we would like to tell you about the past three years journey to remember, what have we lost and missed and what new things have we gained?
5 things that we have lost
– Lost belongings: clothes, identity documents, and personal items for someone who lived there for more than a year are gone #TheCurrentFateisUnknown
– Lost CCTV Recordings: although some footage has been released to several news agencies, But the original version has never been revealed. #TheCurrentFateisUnknown
– Lost Facebook Account: Previously, Wanchalearm Satsaksit’s Facebook account had always been a memorial to us, but in 2022, Wanchalearm’s account was lost for unknown reasons. #TheCurrentFateisUnknown
– Lost normal lives: The damage to the family is more serious than many people think, with physical and psychological effects that will last until the truth is revealed. Wanchalearm’s family cannot carry on activities that have the name of Wanchalerm, such as managing land or other interests. And there are many more damages that we can’t see, such as psychological effects, which will continue to affect their daily life and, in the end, we will never know if we can go back to the way we were before. #TheCurrentFateisUnknown
– Remnants of Lost Memories: As time passes, a person’s memory becomes faded, diluted, or gone if deprived of tangible objects, devoid of records of facts or legal documents. Memories will fade more easily and will never be full forever. The more days pass, the story of him will gradually fade away. Confidence in the process of justice will decrease as well. This is a great fear in our hearts because when we need to make use of those memories, where are we going to find them? #TheCurrentFateisUnknown
However, in the struggle of the Wanchalerm family and the civil society organizations for human rights over the past three years, what we have gained along the way is an important question that will keep Wanchalerm’s story going. And this is what we want to bring up to remind everyone once again.
– Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act: it is worth keeping an eye on whether this new law will be just a new gadget that is purchased but not used or will be the hope of effective prevention against enforced disappearance..
– The voice of new generation that will never allow enforced disappearances to happen again: talking about torture and enforced disappearances has always been a hard topic, but today we are seeing young people paying more attention to human rights. Therefore, it is considered as a consolation in this hard time.
Although new things are not able to replace the lives of the lost, but the name Wanchalearm Satsaksit will continue in the pages of Thai history. And it is our duty to preserve the stories of Wanchalearm and others who have disappeared so that their faces, voices, thoughts, smells, and identities live on. Moreover, we also have to remember the stories of those who are still alive such as a family member who is still struggling to bring justice. We are all involved in remembering, learning, healing, and bringing the wrongdoer to justice. And moving forward towards a society where no one will be harmed by this action.