Tag Archives: Kalasin

Thailand’s “unsubstantiated” police abuses

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Thailand’s representatives to the United Nations still cling to the outdated idea that if they turn up at a big get-together and make nice comments about how they cherish human rights, then everyone will think things are fine in the land of smiles.

Not surprisingly, they are unhappy when other people tell a different story. So last March, when the Asian Legal Resource Centre addressed the U.N. Human Rights Council concerning Thailand, they weren’t at all pleased.

The Hong Kong-based group told the council that the police are the top abusers of human rights in Thailand, for which they enjoy impunity. The center did not make this statement frivolously. It has for years worked closely with people in the country on dozens of cases that speak to this fact, and it is aware of and has documented hundreds more. Many cases it cannot publicize because to do so would put lives at risk.

Notwithstanding, the government representative, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, claimed that the center’s remarks were “unsubstantiated.” Although his defense of his country’s record was not in itself surprising, the vehemence of his response was remarkable given the piles of evidence to the contrary which groups have accumulated and presented to international bodies over the last decade.

This week the center had a chance to rebut his claim. Continue reading

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A policy of not solving human rights cases

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In recent weeks Thailand’s media has attentively reported on the arrest of some paramilitary police who are alleged to have abducted and framed tens, perhaps hundreds, of people.

The Border Patrol Police officers set up most of their victims on charges under which the accused could not get bail. Some they released after receiving ransom. One of these, a middle-aged woman, in January set off the alarm after she, her son and two others had been freed. Since then, over 60 more have complained to the Rights and Liberties Protection Department. At least 180 inmates have reportedly sought for their files to be reopened.

Victims have described how they were held in groups and tortured. According to one, she and her partner [above] were taken to a bungalow where they saw at least twenty more people tied up, some hooded; a few with smashed teeth and bruised faces. Another has claimed that she was electrocuted while pregnant, despite pleading for her baby. She gave birth in remand, awaiting a trial in which she was acquitted of any crime.

A few years ago, a case like this would have been accompanied by loud calls for it to be moved outside of the police force and into the hands of the Department of Special Investigation. But such calls have been noticeably absent this time around. Continue reading

Strange fruit in Kalasin

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(ผลไม้ประหลาดในกาฬสินธุ์)

Officers of the Kalasin District Police Station in northeastern Thailand are alleged to have abducted and murdered dozens of people in the last few years. The actual number could exceed 100; many more bodies have been found, but were not properly examined and documented before being cremated.

Among the victims, Kietisak Thitboonkrong and Krischadol Pancha disappeared from the police station within days of each other in July 2004, shortly after the official close of the first “war on drugs” declared by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Kietisak was 17, Krischadol, 15. Both had been accused of robbery and brought to the police station. Both were granted bail and the grandmother of each had come to the station to collect the boy but was told that he had been released and to go and wait.

Neither ever came home. Kietisak was found in a neighboring province, tortured to death and strung up in a bad attempt at a simulated suicide. Krischadol was not found. Continue reading

Burma is not North Korea

Burma and North Korea together caused a flurry of excitement a few days ago when they renewed diplomatic relations after a quarter-century hiatus. Government officials, newspaper editorialists and human rights advocates around the world rushed to iterate prosaic remarks and bang drums about the two “outposts of tyranny.”

Why? Comparing Burma with North Korea just because the two are run by uncompromising military regimes has little merit. It does nothing to explain the real problems in either country. If anything, it is inimical to the prospects for meaningful change in both.

Seen with reference to human rights and the rule of law across Asia, Burma is not exceptional. On the contrary, it in many ways resembles its close neighbors, including Thailand. The differences that exist in Burma are mostly ones of degree, not kind.

Continue reading