Bombs, red shirts, martial law and torture

19 03 2015

PPT has held off posting on the recent arrest of persons allegedly involved in an incident where a grenade was lobbed into a car park at the Bangkok Criminal Court on 7 March 2015. We held off because, as is often the case under the military dictatorship, the information released appears politically compromised, partial and the details of the case/s contradictory and suspicious. We made similar comments when the police made statements about bombs at Siam Paragon. It has also been a developing story, and our account does not include even a proportion of the material available.

Bomb networkAs much as we’d like to support a movement against the junta, the story the junta and the police are weaving is anything but believable. As seems usual in such cases, the police have a network diagram, which we reproduce here. The previous claims about networks have all proven unfounded and were concocted by military and military-backed regimes for political gain, smearing opponents.

Not coincidentally, along with the bombers’ plot, pinned to red shirts, the military has “discovered” a small cache of weapons, mostly BB guns, in a temple they claim linked to red shirts in the northeast (although, the temple is actually in Saraburi…, but, hey, this is “military intelligence” at work). The really big “evidence” seems to be a pin with Thaksin Shinawatra’s image on it. This sounds like yet another arranged discovery meant to link red shirts to political activism against the military dictatorship. We simply find it impossible to believe a military with a huge record of deception, lies, murder and concoction of “evidence.” We wish there was an organized movement against the military dictatorship.

For PPT, the plot had a whiff of fish from the beginning, which according to the police and military, goes back to the Siam Paragon case. It got even whiffier when The Bangkok Post reported that the military junta was using the “plot” to seek the extradition of Manoon Chaichana (we know him as Anek Chaichana) said to be a lese majeste suspect, from the United States “as he also faces an arrest warrant for his alleged involvement in the grenade attack at the Criminal Court.”

The junta has been trying to extradite lese majeste suspects who have fled the country, but with no success. This is mainly because those other jurisdictions do not recognize the feudal lese majeste law. So tying Manoon to a bombing case seemed rather convenient. Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said the junta “would seek the cooperation of the country where the suspect lives.”

The cops say Manoon “gave financial support for the grenade attack…”. They also mentioned his leadership of the Thai Alliance for Human Rightsand linked the suspects to it. The Thai Alliance for Human Rights was formed in San Francisco in October 2014. The Alliance includes both Anek and Chupong Thithuan, both accused of lese majeste, in multiple cases. The police accuse this group of attempting to “raise public panic.” There are said to be 14 in the group.

One of the early reports on the arrest of the suspects in Thailand also caused us to think of fish. The military claimed to have a tip-off that there was to be an attack on the Court and soldiers lay in wait for the suspects to arrive and throw a grenade into a pretty much vacant car late at night, seemingly not trying to cause any damage. They were promptly arrested after a brief shoot out. Even if the military did have “intelligence,” and they rarely do, this bomb plot seems entirely different from that at Siam Paragon, which was conducted during the day with many people around. The similarity is that neither seemed designed to kill.

Then things got even more smelly when Nattathida Meewangpla was suddenly abducted by the military, who denied it was them, and then produced her – a witness to military crimes – as a suspect in the “bombing plot.” In the Bangkok Post it was reported that police said that “Nattatida was in the same group of people accused of attempting to hire others to launch grenade attacks at five locations in Bangkok last month. Targets included the 11th Infantry Regiment, Lumpini Park, the Chatuchak MRT station, the Criminal Court and the parking lot of the Siam Kempinski Hotel near Bangkok’s Siam Paragon shopping mall.”

Finally, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights claim that some of the suspects have been tortured (see the press release below).

Abduction, torture, lese majeste, police and military. That’s quite a combination. And, it all allows for the maintenance of martial law.

Press Release

Investigation of alleged torture against suspects of the Criminal Court Bomb urged, Martial Law must be lifted

For immediate release on 17 March 2015TLHR

          A bomb exploded inside the compound of the Bangkok Criminal Court on 7 March 2015 and nine suspects have been arrested so far. Today, 17 March 2015, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has received complaints from four of the suspects in this case including Mr. Sansern Sriounruen, Mr. Chanwit Chariyanukul, Mr. Norapat Luephon and Mr. Wichai Yusuk. It was alleged in the complaints that the four suspects had been subjected to torture including being hit, punched, booted in their head, chest, back and threatened with an assault in order to extract information from them. In addition, some suspects were electrocuted leaving visible traces on their skin while being held in custody invoking Martial Law during 9-15 March 2015.

          TLHR is gravely concerned about the use of Martial Law to hold a person in custody and to prevent the person from communicating with his or her relatives and lawyers during the seven days. Previous detentions invoking Martial Law since the coup have taken place in undisclosed facilities and were conducted without transparency and accountability. The latest case of its kind of the detention of Ms. Nutthathida Meewangpla which was made known later that she had been subjected to military custody. The deprivation of liberty of a person invoking Martial Law may give rise to arbitrary exercise of power, torture and ill treatment, and enforced disappearance. Torture inflicted on a person while being held in custody is considered a gross human rights abuse and is a breach to obligations regarding the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) to which Thailand is a state party and was obliged to follow since 1 November 2007.

          TLHR demands the following from concerned agencies;

          1. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) must bring to a halt the invocation of Martial Law to suppress any criminal act since the police are already able to invoke their power as per the Criminal Procedure Code to effectively apply for arrest warrants and to investigate the case.

          2. The Department of Corrections which supervises detention facilities must ensure access to independent and impartial physicians of the four suspects. They along with other suspects in the same case should have access to physical and mental examination so as to create a guarantee against any possibility of being subjected to torture and ill treatment during the time Martial Law is imposed.

          3. The Royal Thai Police must conduct an investigation and collect evidence related to the abuses committed against the four suspects and to bring to justice the perpetrators.

With respect of people’s rights and liberties

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)


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12 responses

22 03 2015
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