BANGKOK — A stenciled mural showing fugitive activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit disappeared less than 24 hours after it was painted, and other posters demanding to know his whereabouts were also taken down.
A street artist-activist known by the alias Headache Stencil said in a tweet Monday that his work was sprayed over after he stenciled it on a wall in Bangkok on Sunday. He also said security forces watched him while he painted the mural, but they did not intervene.
“It’s gone,” the post wrote. “The person was kidnapped, and now the painting of the disappeared person also vanished. Do the perpetrators order it to be deleted? It’s there less than 24 hours, you guys erased it quickly like you’re afraid of being guilty.”
The mural showed a face of Wanchalearm, surrounded by red texts which read “Dead or alive, we are human.”
Wanchalearm, an anti-government campaigner who fled Thailand in 2014, was allegedly abducted on Thursday in Cambodia. Posters calling for explanation over the activist’s disappearance were also taken down in Bangkok, and a large poster asking “Why was he abducted” in Kalasin was likewise removed.
When reached for comments today, a tessakit officer at Phayathai District Office said in a phone interview that the posters were removed because they violated the city’s cleanliness law and appeared to bear political messages that could cause unrest.
The posters found in Phayathai district also show other Thai dissidents such as Chucheep Chiwasut, who disappeared last year after his reported arrest in Vietnam. They state the cause of disappearance as “abducted by the state.”
“Our tessakit [city’s law compliance officers] removed them yesterday,” an officer who only identified by his first name Wisit said. “It was our routine job. We were not instructed by anyone.”
Thai government officials maintained that they had no knowledge of Wanchalearm’s alleged abduction. Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan said Tuesday he has instructed the foreign ministry to coordinate with Cambodian authorities on the matter.
“This case is the matter of the foreign ministry,” Gen. Prawit said before walking away from the reporters.
Foreign ministry spokesman Cherdkiat Atthakor said the ministry has acknowledged Wanchalearm’s disappearance. The Thai embassy in Phnom Penh has been instructed to work with Cambodian authorities on the investigation, he said.
No one claimed responsibility for the alleged abduction so far. Wanchalearm ran Facebook pages critical of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and wrote posts critical of the monarchy.