BANGKOK: Three Cambodian activists have been detained in Thailand ahead of a planned visit by Cambodia’s prime minister, rights groups said on Saturday (Feb 3).
Lem Sokha and Kung Raiya were taken into custody by officers in the capital Bangkok on Friday, while Pha Phaya – a member of the Cambodia Youth Network – was detained in Rayong province.
All three are believed to have been taken to Bangkok’s main immigration detention centre Suan Plu, according to rights groups working in the kingdom.
Police confirmed the arrest of a Cambodian man and his family in Rayong, and said he was being held at Suan Plu. His relatives remain in Rayong, they said without identifying him as Pha Phaya.
“They have UNHCR cards so they might not be deported because they could face danger in their home country,” Ban Chang police chief Arthit Yakaew told AFP, referring to the UN refugee agency.
The UNHCR did not respond to a request for comment.
Officers also did not confirm the detention of Lem Sokha, vice-president of Bangkok’s Cambodian Refugee Committee, or Kung Raiya, a former member of the Cambodian opposition Candlelight Party.
But rights group Manushya Foundation, working with Human Rights Watch, said they were in touch with lawyers handling the case and urged their release.
“We urgently call on Thai authorities not to deport these activists to Cambodia, where they, along with their families, face the grave risk of imprisonment and torture,” Manushya founder Emilie Pradichit told AFP.
The detentions come only days before the scheduled visit of Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Manet, who succeeded his father Hun Sen last year, for talks with Thai counterpart Srettha Thavisin.
“It’s clearly transnational repression by Cambodian and Thai authorities ahead of PM Hun Manet’s visit,” Pradichit said.
Numerous Cambodian activists have fled to Thailand over the years, escaping repression at home.
The case follows that of anti-war Russian-Belarusian rock band Bi-2, whose detention in Thailand sparked fears they would be deported to Russia.
They left the kingdom this month following an outcry.
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