Thai junta upset by report on torture in Muslim south| MENAFN.COM

Saturday, 22 January 2022 08:12 GMT

Thai junta upset by report on torture in Muslim south

(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Thailand’s military has accused local NGOs of seeking to “embarrass” the government by releasing a report on torture in the kingdom’s Muslim south during a visit by the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) chief local media reported Monday.

The 59-page Thai language report titled ‘Torture’ and released Sunday is based on interviews with 54 alleged victims of torture and mistreatment under military detention since 2004 in the country’s insurgency-plagued south.

A spokesperson for Thailand’s main domestic security agency the Internal Security Operation Command has responded to the report by saying their legal team is verifying the allegations and would discuss the issue with the NGOs.

“They should have consulted us first” Colonel Pramote Prom-in told the Bangkok Post.

He added that he believed the report was “designed to embarrass the Thai military” as it was released the same day that OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani arrived for an official four-day visit to Thailand.

The report had been submitted by representatives of the involved NGOs -- – the Cross Cultural Foundation the Duay Jai group and the Patani Human Rights Network – to military authorities last Friday.

The alleged abuses detailed include “being punched in the head kicked in the back face and body having cold water thrown on them being forced to remain naked for prolonged periods in an air-conditioned room being choked with water or strangled being electrocuted and being sexually assaulted.”

Of the alleged victims 15 said they had been tortured last year and 17 in 2014.

“Of course when they [suspects] are arrested it is not a nice scene. But think of when the insurgents shot and bomb people” said colonel Prom-in. “These allegations are old stories. We have adjusted ourselves over the years” he added.

Claims of reforms in the handling of suspects by the military – which human rights groups have long accused of violations such as beatings and enforced disappearances -- are refuted by representatives of the NGOs.

“The accounts of those who have been tortured and inhumanly treated will remind the public about the issues still going on in the deep South” the Duay Jai group’s director Anchana Heemina told the Post.

“Hopefully it will stop such action. And if the information could reach the OIC it will help them better care for the Muslims here and elsewhere” she added.

In 2014 a group of Thai NGOs submitted to the Geneva-based United Nations Committee against Torture a list of 92 alleged cases of torture and mistreatment by police and military across Thailand.

“Since then no perpetrators have been brought to justice” according to the Cross Cultural Foundation’s director Pornpen Khongkachonkiet.

Last September the Thai anti-corruption commission recommended that the army and criminal prosecutors take legal action against a military officer over the killing of an imam Yapa Kaseng in a military jail in Narathiwat province in March 2008.

An autopsy had found that Kaseng – who had been arrested for suspected involvement in the southern insurgency -- was physically assaulted and beaten with “hard objects” during a two-day interrogation resulting in broken ribs puncturing his lungs and leading to his death.

Until today there has been no progress in the case.

Last year Thai courts requested that authorities financially compensate victims in three different cases of torture under military detention but without any criminal charges being filed against officials.

The southern insurgency is rooted in a century-old ethno-cultural conflict between the Malay Muslims living in the provinces of Pattani Yala and Narathiwat and some districts of Songkhla and the Thai central state where Buddhism is considered the de-facto national religion.

Armed insurgent groups were formed in the 1960s after the then-military dictatorship tried to interfere in Islamic schools but the insurgency faded in the 1990s.

In 2004 a rejuvenated armed movement – composed of numerous local cells of fighters loosely grouped around an organization called the National Revolutionary Front or BRN – emerged.

Since then the conflict has killed over 6500 people and injured more than 11000 making it one of the deadliest low-intensity conflicts on the planet.

By Arnaud Dubus

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