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Artist shines light on missing kids

Sketches can work miracles for families still traumatised by the disappearance of their children years ago, plugging a crucial gap between the memories of what their loved ones once looked like and how they may have changed over time, often to an unrecognisable degree.

Sketches can help reconstruct the facial images of people in their adult years long after they went missing as children, according to Pol Col Chaiwat Burana, head of the Criminal Record Sub-Division 2, who is responsible for making such drawings.

Pol Col Chaiwat sketched the faces of five missing children who feature in a small exhibition called “Arts of Justice” that opened on Saturday at the Play Space Cafe on Charoen Muang Road, not far from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok.

Four of the five were images of people who disappeared as boys between the ages of eight and 12 years. The other sketch was of a woman who disappeared at the age of four.

The superintendent said he was confident of being able to make the imaginative leap from their old photos to how they probably look now, based on his long years of experience.

The four boys featured in the show are: Dechawat Yator, also known as Nong Jet, who went missing when he was 12 years old on Oct 17, 2013; Chaiyapas Dankuakul, or Nong Ten, who disappeared at the age of 11 on Dec 16, 2006; Noppadol Yuannoowong, or Nong Oat, who disappeared when he was eight on March 25, 2002; and Pongpet Jeensuksaeng, or Nong Lap who vanished when he was nine on Dec 6, 2006.

Benyarat Wongprajan went missing at the age of four on April 3, 2006.

Pol Col Chaiwat has even composed a song to capture his unrelenting anxiety over the ongoing searches. He said he hopes it spurs the general public and the police to pay more attention to the problem of missing

“The power of people as a social force always holds incredible might,” he told the Bangkok Post.

Last year, he produced a sketch of a young woman in her early 20’s who was last seen at a petrol station in Saraburi in 2010. She was identified as Jeerapat Thongchum, or Nong Gigi. He said her image still haunts him, as she hasn’t been found.

The superintendent said the exhibition was an awareness-raising event as many children remain missing.

“Their parents are distraught. They cry every time they see me.”


Pol Col Chaiwat Burana, head of the Criminal Record Sub-Division 2, at the ‘Arts of Justice’ exhibition in Bangkok. The event features sketched images to help track down young people who went missing many years ago. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)

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