15.06.2019 Author: Joseph Thomas

US-backed Agitators Go “Missing” in Asia – Why?


The Western media along with multiple US and European funded “rights” groups have sounded the alarm over what they claim is a wave of assassinations and physical attacks on “activists.”

The particular target of these claims is Thailand.

Articles like the Sydney Morning Herald’s “‘They sent an assassination squad’: Thai exiles speak of life in fear,” allege:

The attacks on Thai dissidents and pro-democracy activists are becoming increasingly violent and are being felt across ASEAN countries. And for political exiles who are critical of the monarchy – many of whom are wanted for lese-majeste or royal defamation – the attacks can be deadly.

The article makes mention of those “deadly attacks,” claiming:

On New Year’s Eve, two bodies washed up on the banks of the Mekong River on the Thai-Laos border. They were gutted and stuffed with concrete to weigh them down, and were later identified as belonging to colleagues of Surachai Danwattananusorn, who has spent decades opposing the monarchy and military regimes. Surachai himself has been missing since December 12.

One problem with the Sydney Morning Herald’s article is its omission of the fact that Surachai himself is a convicted murderer and belongs to a movement that readily uses violence. Another problem is that there is no evidence of who is behind these attacks or why.

What remains is the West’s now all-too-familiar accusations of “human rights abuse” aimed at coercing yet another targeted nation.

“Missing Activists” Support Violence, Sedition

The Union for Civil Liberty, funded by the US government via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in a 1986 report would admit Surachai’s role in various acts of politically-motivated violence including murder and arson.

The report admits:

Surachai led [an] angry mob of 30,000 to protect against the authorities; negligence of the flood victims in the province. The protest ended in the burning of the governor’s residence. Surachai and 12 other people were detained but later released following the public pressure. 

Threatened with arrest and death, he took refuge in the junge areas under the control of the CPT [Communist Party of Thailand]. 

Surachai was reportedly involved in the stopping of the train by CPT forces. This resulted in the disappearance of 1.2 million baht (US$ 46,154) and the death of a policeman. He later fled the scene. 

Surachai, for his role in the murder was arrested, found guilty in a court of law and sentenced to death.

He was later pardoned by Thailand’s king. The violence Surachai was involved in is now omitted completely from Western media coverage of him and others in his movement today, including the above cited Sydney Morning Herald article.

Now 77 years old, he turned from “communism” to supporting US proxy, billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra. His advanced age and exodus from Thailand rendered him useless. Surachai by remaining “alive” leaves him a spent force with a checkered past and serving only as dead weight for the movement. Being “killed” transforms this dead weight into a “martyr.”

Other supposed “activists” who have fled abroad are either directly involved in or support Thailand’s opposition headed by billionaire ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his political allies. This includes his street front, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) also known as “red shirts,” who have carried out armed violence and terrorism since Shinawatra’s removal from office in 2006.

In one episode in 2010, Shinawatra’s red shirts would field between 300-500 heavily armed militants on the streets of Bangkok leading to violence that claimed nearly 100 lives and left entire sections of Bangkok destroyed by arson attacks.

Their penchant for violence isn’t directed solely at Thailand’s police, soldiers and civilians or their political enemies. It is often turned against themselves either through infighting, or through attempts to escalate political tensions by blaming the violence on Thailand’s military or government.

Thus, these “missing activists” could just of likely have fallen victim to their own circle of violent agitators, specifically to provoke the political pressure now being placed on Thailand’s government by Western media outlets and “rights” organisations.

Where is the Evidence?

The other problem with the Sydney Morning Herald’s article is that there is no evidence. In fact, the article literally says, “there is no evidence…”

The article states specifically:

[Human Rights Watch senior researcher Sunai Phasuk] said it was unclear who was behind the deaths and disappearances. The claims of squads travelling to neighbouring countries were serious and were unlike anything he had heard of before, but were unproven. 

“There’s no evidence because there’s no investigation,” he said.

However, Sunai’s claim that there is no investigation is not true. The Bangkok Post in its article titled, “Police seek to identify bodies stuffed with concrete,” confirmed that police were in fact investigating, they simply weren’t drawing the same baseless, politically-motivated conclusions as Sunai.

The Sydney Morning Herald wrote an entire story insinuating that the Thai government was hunting down and murdering activists who have not only long fled Thailand, but also have been long forgotten, all based on exactly “no evidence.”

The real question is, who benefits from these missing and dead “activists?”

Who Benefits from Dead B-Squad “Activists?”

These activists have no influence on Thai politics. Even those remaining in Thailand, who are by far more prominent and influential, have been unable to put together even the meagerest of protests, much to the frustration of their foreign sponsors.

Thaksin Shinawatra’s opposition party Pheu Thai lost the popular vote to the pro-military party Palang Pracharath who then went on to form a larger coalition than Shinawatra’s and whose candidate for prime minister, Prayuth Chan-o-Cha, effortlessly won the vote inside parliament.

Everything is going the Thai military’s way, so why would they send death squads out to kill forgotten, elderly and otherwise ineffective agitators, thus attracting the very sort of damning attention the Western media is now paying to these claims?

Such attention focused by the Western media has been used to sell entire US-European military interventions in places like Libya and Syria. There is nothing for Bangkok to gain by attracting this sort of attention to itself, but everything for a waning, desperate opposition to gain by turning such attention toward the government.

The Thai opposition has shown a voracious appetite for violence and has regularly employed it toward achieving their political goals. They are now the only ones benefiting from the deaths of these otherwise forgotten “activists.” The fact that these “activists” have been forgotten or otherwise ineffective makes them perfect targets for violence aimed at framing the Thai government. Their last “acts” have given the opposition an opportunity to use “human rights” to put the government on the defensive.

For the Western media and the interests they serve, it gives them an opportunity to place pressure on a Thai political order that has been increasingly pivoting away from the West and toward stronger ties across Eurasia, particularly with Beijing.
As these ties grow stronger, the West finds its traditional tools of coercion less effective. Previous tactics of using the Western media to smear Thailand’s tourism industry are no longer effective, for example, because the vast majority of Thailand’s tourists now come from within Asia and in particular, from China.

Moving on to more serious accusations of “human rights abuses” means threatening more severe consequences against Bangkok. Of course, this also means greater incentives for Bangkok to double-down on building ties with Beijing, Moscow and other capitals in ASEAN while taking measures to further insulate itself from the West’s toxic form of “diplomacy.”

The US and Europe has suffered a credibility deficit that only continues to get worse. So often have they, their media and their “rights” organisations accused other nations of such abuses, offering up no evidence or in this case even admitting “there is no evidence,” it has blunted the effectiveness of these tactics. Together with the West’s waning economic and military influence in places like Asia vis-à-vis China, they lack the force necessary to lend credibility to their multiplying threats aimed at a growing list of nations.

By continuing to point this tactic out, not only will it spare Thailand from the fate of nations like Libya and Syria targeted by Western lies, it will make it easier to hold accountable those involved in targeting nations like Libya and Syria in the first place.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.