Losing Ground: Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism in Thailand
Based on interviews, trial observation. and other research, the 36-page report analyzes national security, counterterrorism, and human rights defenders. The report includes the following:
Defenders: Human rights defenders killed or disappeared include:
- A noted Muslim lawyer named Somchai Neelaphaijit who went missing soon after filing a torture complaint against the police. After an inadequate investigation and charges that did not fit the crime, four policemen were acquitted and one was convicted in January 2006 on a single charge of coercion.
- A monk named Phra Supoj Suvacano was killed in June 2005 after challenging efforts by local businessmen to take control of forest lands belonging to the local community and the temple.
- A young woman named Chaweewan Pueksungnoen was shot and killed in May 2001 after exposing corruption by local officials. No one has been held accountable for her death.
Detentions: The report finds that over the two-and-a-half years of renewed conflict in the southern provinces, security forces have been making extensive arrests with little or no evidence of criminal activity, first under martial law and then under the July 2005 emergency decree.
- In one infamous case, after a large protest outside a police station at Tak Bai, Narathiwat, in October 2004, security forces could not identify the protest leaders and arrested more than 1300 protestors under martial law provisions. Without enough trucks to transport the protestors, they stacked detainees on top of each other (six deep) for the long trip to a detention center. 78 died along the way.
- In Yala province, after an attack by insurgents on a police station in November 2005, police used the decree to arrest the customers of the tea shop next door, a man driving by with his children, and others with no apparent connection to the attack.
- Since the passage of the emergency decree, many others have been called in and held as witnesses, a category that deprives them of even the modest protections they would have as suspects.
Disappearances: Recently, the government reportedly paid compensation to at least 21 families of victims allegedly “disappeared” by government forces, yet there has been no official effort to determine the fates of the missing men, let alone prosecute those responsible. Furthermore, according to a number of sources cited in the report, this figure may represent the tip of an iceberg that has yet to be fully examined.
The complete report can be read here.