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Amnesty International Cites 34 Cases Of Torture In South


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The Nation, Tue, January 13, 2009 : Last updated 15:49 hours

Ref url:- http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/13...al_30093113.php

Amnesty International cites 34 cases of torture in south

Bangkok - Amnesty International (AI) on Tuesday exposed at least 34 documented cases of authorities torturing Muslim insurgents in Thailand's conflictive south, four of whom died, and called on the government to clarify its legal stance on the practice.

"All the victims were Muslim, all but one were male, and 20 of them were under the age of 30; the youngest was a boy of six, the oldest 46," said the AI report titled Thailand: Torture in the Southern Counter-Insurgency, based on testimony compiled between mid-2007 and mid-2008.

Thailand has been waging a counterinsurgency campaign in the deep South, comprising the provinces Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and parts of Songkhla, since January 4, 2004, when a group of Muslim militants raided an army depot in the region, stealing more than 300 weapons and killing four soldiers.

The incident led to a series of government crackdowns on the region's long-simmering separatist movement that further alienated the local population from Thailand's Bangkok-based governments.

The majority of people in the deep south, once known as the independent Islamic sultanate of Pattani, have a long history of alienation from predominantly Buddhist Thailand.

Although the region was conquered by Bangkok about 200 years ago, it has never wholly submitted to Thai rule.

Over the past five years the intensified separatist struggle has led to at least 3,500 deaths, with much of the violence perpetrated by the separatists.

"The insurgents in southern Thailand have engaged in brutal acts, but nothing justifies the security forces reliance on torture," said Donna Guest, deputy director of AI's Asia-Pacific programme.

In late 2005, former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra placed the region under emergency decree, giving authorities immunity from prosecution while conducting official duties.

The region with a population of about 2 million, 80 per cent of whom are Muslim, remains under emergency decree.

Amnesty International called on new Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to lift the decree or at least remove the immunity clause for security personnel.

"The best way to tackle torture is to tackle the issue of immunity," said Guest. "Unless alleged perpetrators are brought to justice for torture, there will be no change to the behaviour."

Thailand prohibits torture under Article 32 in its constitution, and the country has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, providing legal grounds to prosecute perpetrators even if they are provided immunity under the emergency decree.

"What we're pointing out is this inconsistency," said Benjamin Zawacki, the main researcher of the report.

"(The) emergency decree seems to, not explicitly allow torture, but provides conditions under which it can be facilitated, go undetected in the short term and prosecuted in the long term," Zawacki said.

Besides granting authorities immunity, the decree also allows security personnel to detain suspects without charges for up to 30 days.

Amnesty International also recommended the new Thai government close all detention centres in the south - of which it located at least 21 - and allow detainees to receive visits from relatives, lawyers and medical personnel.//dpa

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marshbags :o

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EDITORIAL: No substitute for justice

Bangkok Post, Published: 13/01/2009 at 12:00 AM

The government, the army and the police must take seriously the charges and detailed reports of torture and extra-judicial killings in the South. The international activist group Amnesty International is to raise the issue today. The planned AI press conference will heighten concern in the international community.

More importantly, however, the AI report will indicate a continuing and troubling resort to unjust and illegal violence by state security officers. The government cannot afford to overlook such serious acts and expect those in the South to trust authorities with their future.

Amnesty International is not above criticism, and the government has frequently taken an adversarial stand against the group. That is a separate issue. People in the South as well as those who follow national issues know full well there have been serious and deadly abuses of power by security forces. The deaths of 85 Tak Bai protesters in 2004 are only the best known and greatest example. The death of the Muslim imam Yapa Kaseng last March, apparently after severe and repeated beatings while in army custody, is just one of many injustices which heighten the scepticism of southern Thais, and make it easier for the violent gang leaders to convince young men to join their groups.

On the one hand, there is a desire to install and enforce the law with full legal protections in the South. The Narathiwat Criminal Court ruled last month that Imam Yapa was tortured and killed by the soldiers who detained him at the 39th Taskforce camp in Rueso district.

The ruling was basically an inquest, not an actual trial. Indeed, as the US activist group Human Rights Watch noted last week, the issue is whether there ever will be a trial. The soldiers involved, the commander and the unit involved - normally based in the central provinces - all have been publicly named. It only remains for the government and the military to charge the soldiers and for a trial to begin.

Pardon the scepticism, but we have been here before. The specific troops and commanders involved in the Tak Bai incident are well known. There is extensive video of that violent and tragic mass homicide. An independent committee investigated and recommended legal action. A prime minister and former army commander, Gen Surayud Chulanont, apologised for the unforgivable deaths. Tak Bai is frequently cited as a major cause of continuing violence. Yet no legal action ever has been taken.

Events such as the Tak Bai incident and the killing of Imam Yapa are played and replayed. Separatist and extremist gang leaders play on this undoubted rancour.

Many newspapers at the New Year carried analyses headlined, "Five years on, no end seen to insurgency." This is true. The violence in the South is an open sore. The army has done an admirable job recently of tamping down the worst of the gangs, but the sore continues to fester. Polls and media interviews have shown consistently that the main complaint of the southerners is mistreatment by the government and its security forces.

There is no substitute for law and order. There is no room for physical abuse of suspects. Army and police commanders must make clear that torture and ill treatment are forbidden. Such actions work against the security forces, and create a wall of ill will between local people and their government. Instead of railing against the bias of AI, authorities should take seriously the charges raised by the group. A strong effort to institute justice in the South could go a long way to ending support for the terrorist gangs.

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Ref url :- http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion...ute-for-justice

marshbags :o

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The Nation, Sun, January 18, 2009 : Last updated 0:10 hours

Ref url:- http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/18...al_30093496.php

Rights-abuse claims in South to be probed, says PM

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva promised yesterday to investigate claims of human-rights abuses by the military and instructed officials in the deep South to perform their duties with fairness and respect for human rights.

Leading a high-level group of officials, Abhisit was on a one-day visit to Pattani and Yala, his first since assuming office a month ago.

He was joined by a newly formed special commission of ministers charged with drafting a new law to replace the emergency decree.

"We come today to learn about the situation and problems in the South and hold discussions with all the authorities involved," Abhisit told reporters following a meeting at Sirindhorn military base in Pattani.

The Cabinet agreed on Tuesday to extend the emergency decree for another three months to April, the 14th extension since it was first imposed in 2005.

"Basically, the emergency decree is still needed. Now we are looking to draft a bill to replace it," Abhisit said, adding that his government was determined to solve problems in the South.

'NEED FOR JUSTICE'

About 200 people welcomed the prime minister on his arrival in Pattani yesterday morning, offering flowers and locally made handicrafts.

Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Thai security forces of using "systematic" torture on suspects in the South, saying in a report that four people had been tortured to death.

"That needs to be investigated," Abhisit said. "We have sent an official to coordinate with human-rights groups. The government must solve the problem while considering human rights so the insurgents will not be able to exploit that issue."

The PM said he had instructed local officials to allow more participation by local residents in government work and to avoid creating conditions that would encourage "the opposite side" to attack the state's work.

Abhisit said the government would consider the restive region's struggling economy as well as its distinct culture and the need for justice in attempting to end the insurgency.

"The work of solving the unrest problem must be carried out by the entire government. It can't be tackled by security officials alone," he said.

After speaking to reporters, the premier visited two communities by helicopter. At the first, 1,000 people turned out to welcome him as he visited a village Buddhist temple and a mosque.

Earlier in the day, Abhisit arrived in Pattani to attend briefings on the region's general situation by Army commander-in-chief General Anupong Paochinda and Fourth Region Army commander Lt-General Pichet Wisaijorn.

The premier and his entourage left Bangkok's military airport yesterday morning by C-130 military aircraft to an air base in Songkhla.

Among the Cabinet members accompanying him were Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, Interior Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul, Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut, Transport Minister Sophon Saram and Social Development and Human Security Minister Witoon Nambutr.

National police chief General Patcharawat Wongsuwan, the defence minister's younger brother, was also in the entourage.

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FM Kasit: heavy army's presence in south caused negative images

By Don Pathan

The Nation, Mon, January 19, 2009 : Last updated 17:29 hours

Ref url :- http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/19...al_30093596.php

Pattani - Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said the high presence of the military in the three southernmost provinces could create a negative perception for the country because outsiders could view the region as an "occupied territory."

While acknowledging security concerns in this violence-plague region, Kasit urged the governors of the three southernmost provinces and the Southern Boarder Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) to look for ways to help change that perception.

Taking part in the meeting were Thai ambassadors from Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore.

Local residents interviewed by The Nation often complaint about the high presence of the military in public domain, suggesting places such as hotels and supermarket should be demilitarize zone.

Recently, this reporter witnessed a soldier walking though a local supermarket, toting an M16 rifle with a grenade flopping around his flak jacket.

Pointing to the high number of checkpoints along the roads, Kasit said he was concerned that outsiders would equate the region to Gaza, a Palestinian territory recently invaded by the Israeli army.

During his two-day visit to the restive region, Kasit urged government officials, especially those working on the ground, to be more sensitive to the cultural differences in the Muslim-majority, Malay-speaking region.

He reminded them that world community is watching and that their utmost concern is the issue of human rights abuses.

Thailand is obligated to engage and explain "development and progress", not just to the rest of the country, but also to the international community, including human rights organizations, United Nations agencies and the Organisation of Islamic Conference.

While certain elements abroad may be looking to exploit Thailand's domestic problem for poetical gains, said Kasit, generally speaking, the intention of the international community towards Thailand is good and positive.

Kasit also urged stronger cooperation between stage agencies and local community, calling for more outsourcing of activities to local community and non-governmental organization, saying this could be one way to strengthen trust between the state and the local community.

Budget allocations should be decentralized to include local residents, including women who could perform the role of midwife for their respective villages, Kasit said.

When asked about the 130 ethnic Malay Muslims who fled their home from Narathiwat for northern Malaysia, Kasit vowed to look into the matter but reminded the public that they are not forgotten

Unquote

I look forward to fresh input relating to the EJK,s and eventual accountability for those responsible.

I also look forward to other initiatives being introduced for the re investigation re. the disappearance of all missing citizens who for one reason or another where considered expendable and subsequently silenced for raising issues at local levels and nationally, that where detrimental to the enviroment.

May all the powers that be who where well paid to ignore / turn a blind eye to all the well documented abuse of civil liberties, along with the unethical, greedy individuals who have gained from their disappearnces, receive their Karma, one day soon

marshbags :o and :D

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The Nation, Tue, January 13, 2009 : Last updated 15:49 hours

Ref url:- http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/13...al_30093113.php

Amnesty International cites 34 cases of torture in south

Bangkok - Amnesty International (AI) on Tuesday exposed at least 34 documented cases of authorities torturing Muslim insurgents in Thailand's conflictive south, four of whom died, and called on the government to clarify its legal stance on the practice.

"All the victims were Muslim, all but one were male, and 20 of them were under the age of 30; the youngest was a boy of six, the oldest 46," said the AI report titled Thailand: Torture in the Southern Counter-Insurgency, based on testimony compiled between mid-2007 and mid-2008.

Thailand has been waging a counterinsurgency campaign in the deep South, comprising the provinces Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and parts of Songkhla, since January 4, 2004, when a group of Muslim militants raided an army depot in the region, stealing more than 300 weapons and killing four soldiers.

The incident led to a series of government crackdowns on the region's long-simmering separatist movement that further alienated the local population from Thailand's Bangkok-based governments.

The majority of people in the deep south, once known as the independent Islamic sultanate of Pattani, have a long history of alienation from predominantly Buddhist Thailand.

Although the region was conquered by Bangkok about 200 years ago, it has never wholly submitted to Thai rule.

Over the past five years the intensified separatist struggle has led to at least 3,500 deaths, with much of the violence perpetrated by the separatists.

"The insurgents in southern Thailand have engaged in brutal acts, but nothing justifies the security forces reliance on torture," said Donna Guest, deputy director of AI's Asia-Pacific programme.

In late 2005, former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra placed the region under emergency decree, giving authorities immunity from prosecution while conducting official duties.

The region with a population of about 2 million, 80 per cent of whom are Muslim, remains under emergency decree.

Amnesty International called on new Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to lift the decree or at least remove the immunity clause for security personnel.

"The best way to tackle torture is to tackle the issue of immunity," said Guest. "Unless alleged perpetrators are brought to justice for torture, there will be no change to the behaviour."

Thailand prohibits torture under Article 32 in its constitution, and the country has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, providing legal grounds to prosecute perpetrators even if they are provided immunity under the emergency decree.

"What we're pointing out is this inconsistency," said Benjamin Zawacki, the main researcher of the report.

"(The) emergency decree seems to, not explicitly allow torture, but provides conditions under which it can be facilitated, go undetected in the short term and prosecuted in the long term," Zawacki said.

Besides granting authorities immunity, the decree also allows security personnel to detain suspects without charges for up to 30 days.

Amnesty International also recommended the new Thai government close all detention centres in the south - of which it located at least 21 - and allow detainees to receive visits from relatives, lawyers and medical personnel.//dpa

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marshbags :o

sadly- the tip of the iceberg

thanks fort his info

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PM orders police to speed up solving of high-profile cases

By The Nation, Wed, January 21, 2009 : Last updated 16:50 hours

Ref url :- http://nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/21/pol...cs_30093818.php

Crime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Wednesday chaired a meeting with top crime busters and instructed them to speed up clearing high-profile but unsolved cases in a bid to shore up confidence on the rule of law.

Among top police officers at the meeting were General Thani Somboonsap and Lt General Aswin Kwanmuang.

"The prime minister has instructed police to devote full attention to four to five unsolved cases which has implications to security and international affairs," Aswin said.

The cases included the mysterious disappearance of human rights lawyer Somchai Nilaphaijit, the murder of an English couple in Hua Hin and the killing of a state witness involving in the Somchai case.

Aswin said police would work closely with the Department of Special Investigation to solve the cold cases which have already been placed under the jurisdiction of the DSI.

He also dismissed the speculation that he was a top contender to replace DSI director general Thawee Sodsong, seen as close to the pro-Thaksin camp. He said he wanted to continue working in the police service.

Thani said there is some progress made on the Somchai case although it is still too early to anticipate whether culprits could be apprehended and brought to justice.

He said the government did not set a deadline for getting the job done.

Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said the DSI, which is under his supervision, was under a firm instruction to clear the backlog of cold cases, including the unsolved killings impacted on the Thai-Saudi relations.

A number of cases will reach the statue of limitations by next year and the DSI is expected to wrap up its investigations before then, he said.

He added that his ministry would form eight panels tasked to expedite the investigations on cold cases.

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marshbags :o

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