Tag Archives: Lamphun

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

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The trouble with “sorry”

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Among the contingents of soldiers manning checkpoints and keeping watch on the public throughout August, in the eve and aftermath of Thailand’s military-backed constitutional referendum, at least one took its work a bit too far.

The unit, on detail in Lamphun, just south of Chiang Mai, on Aug. 11 knocked a teenager off his motorcycle, circled him and took turns at kicking his head before letting him go. The reason? They thought that the boy, Ronachai Jantra (shown above), had thrown a bottle at them while riding past.

This is an everyday sort of event in Thailand, and it would not have attracted any attention except that it was captured on film by a camera crew that happened to be nearby at the time.

After the recording was broadcast on television (and online at http://tna.mcot.net/i-content.php?clip_id=qqScpqY=&size=256k), the senior officer responsible for the north, Lt. Gen. Jiradet Kocharat, said on local radio that the army had investigated and warned the soldiers about their behavior, and made them say sorry to the victim.

“Soldiers have to put up with things that they shouldn’t have to,” he explained. “When there’re a lot of people, and then there’s a lot of work and stress, they have to be told to use patience. And if there’s some mistake they have to go apologize and also make amends.”

The commander’s response to the incident points to one of the many deep obstacles to the establishing of both an effective justice system and a culture of human rights in Thailand: calculated atonement as a substitute for criminal punishment.

Continue reading