About a week ago, PPT posted on torture as a standard operating procedure for state authorities. In that post we linked to a Prachatai report on allegations of torture and ill-treatment in the South expanding under the military dictatorship. The allegations, reported by former detainees were of being “beaten or hit with hard objects, … put in a room kept at a low temperature, … suffocated, and … electrocuted.” Others said they were “pierced with needles, tortured with pliers, forced to drink their own urine, stripped naked, injected with unspecified chemicals, tortured in the genitals, and threatened with execution.”
A few days later, the Internal Security Operations Command claimed the report on the use of torture was a work “of imagination not based on reality…” and accused its authors as having “released the report of … to undermine the credibility of the Thai state in the eyes of the world.”
A second report alleging torture has been released. Khaosod reports that the new report is also based on “interviews with former detainees” in the south and was to be “released Wednesday by the Cross Cultural Foundation, Network of Human Rights Organizations in Pattani and Dua Jai Group…”. The 120-page report can be downloaded as a PDF, in Thai.
The report alleges systematic “[t]orture ranging from waterboarding and strangling to threats of violence and sexual assault are used systematically by the army and police to force confessions from suspected insurgents in the Deep South…”. It also notes the impunity enjoyed by criminal officials: “… no single security officer has even gone to jail during the past decade over cases involving torture.”
The response from ISOC is reported:
Col. Pramote Promin, spokesman for the Internal Security Operation Command, or ISOC, said they had not seen the report but dismissed it as yet another figment of its authors’ imaginations. He also accused one of its principal authors, foundation Director Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, of wanting to discredit the army and state.
Equally disturbingly, “human rights lawyer Somchai Hom-laor, another figure behind the report, said some torture techniques are now being adopted against ordinary Thais elsewhere in the kingdom who are believed to be threats to national security.” He might have mentioned deaths in custody in the south and in Bangkok’s political prisons.
Somchai is no ordinary commentator. He has been supportive of some yellow-shirted causes in the past and was a member of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission set up by the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. At the same time, he has been a human rights lawyer for a very long time. These connections and history cause him to be careful in dealing with the junta: “We don’t want to condemn them or create hatred but want them to rectify the situation because it is undermining the state itself…”.
Torture by the state’s officers is routinized in Thailand, as a string of our posts indicate.