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Abstract

In 2018, two self-exile, Thai activists went missing in Laos. Their bodies were found days later, disemboweled, stuffed with concrete, and with other signs of trauma (BBC News 2019). These activists, along with many others, fled Thailand into Laos in hope of a chance of survival and protection from Thailand’s harsh criminal laws against political activists and those who dissent. However, these activists have found themselves disappearing in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. National organizations and other activists believe that these states are cooperating with Thailand, disappearing them, in hope of spreading fear and deterrence. This form of repression is called enforced disappearances. Although enforced disappearances are not a new subject, this form of cooperation on repression is minimized in the world of research. There is substantial literature on why states repress their citizens and how the involvement of their military or law enforcement is significantly used to commit human rights abuses and heinous acts. However, there is no literature in combination of state cooperation on repression. What happens when two states cooperate on repression of their own people or from another’s state? Why would they cooperate? These are important questions in the field of human rights and international relations for us to understand the motive of the states and set accountability and answers. I argue that these states cooperate on repression for several security and economic gains, dependence, and through shared regimes. This paper has used several theories to help understand why cooperation on repression is used and what factors drive to it; thus, there are more than one explanation. I have used the case study of Laos and Thailand and six missing activists, international relations literature, cooperation literature, and Lao-Thai contemporary politics.

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