• Bodies found weighed down by cement near Thailand river were missing activists

    Two bodies that washed ashore from a Thailand river in December were the corpses of anti-government activists, police have revealed. The bodies of the two people — known by the pseudonyms Puchana and Kasalong — were found on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 on the shore of the Mekong River, wrapped in brown sacks along with blocks of cement. The real names of those found were not immediately clear, but officials said they were exiled activists who disappeared from their homes in Laos, where they took shelter after fleeing Thailand.

    A third person with whom the two disappeared and worked, Surachai Danwattananusorn, is a well-known leader of the Red Shirts — an anti-military movement that staged aggressive street protests in Bangkok in 2010 that were violently crushed by the military. The disappearance of the three has raised concern among fellow activists that they were kidnapped by a death squad — either vigilantes or officially sanctioned.

    Thailand’s military announced after taking power in a 2014 coup that defending the monarchy would be a priority. However, disappearances and assassinations of political dissidents have been sporadic since the 1970s, when politicians and farm and labor leaders were targeted to remove a popular democracy after demonstrations ousted a military dictatorship in 1973.

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