Tag Archives: Martial Law

The mechanics of murder

The killing of Yapa Koseng in a vehicle parked at an army base in southern Thailand has attracted interest among news media and human rights groups, particularly since a doctor speaking at a postmortem inquest hearing at the end of June indicated that his fatal injuries could have been caused only by savage torture.

However, it was the testimony of another person that day which laid bare the mechanics of the homicide, or how, in the words of a United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings, police and soldiers in Thailand “get away with murder.”

That person was Major Wicha Phuthong, then acting commander of the unit holding Yapa, whom other detainees claim was present during the assault: a claim that the officer has of course denied.

According to Major Wicha, police picked up Yapa together with two of his sons and three other persons “probably” around 3 p.m. on March 19. They were to be held under martial law provisions for up to seven days without being brought to a court. Anticipating their transfer to a neighboring province for further inquiries, Wicha had them kept in the police van that carried them to his unit at Suantham Temple, in Narathiwat.

Yapa didn’t make it through seven days. The 56-year-old died sometime during the night of March 20 or 21, a broken rib stuck in his lungs. (Hundreds attended his funeral, above.)

But don’t ask Major Wicha about that. Continue reading

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Consistently counter-productive

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Extracts from a new report: Human Rights under Attack, by the Working Group on Justice for Peace, Thailand

One policy that has been consistently counter-productive is the government’s reliance on poorly trained, ill-disciplined para-military forces and civilian militias. Although they have a long-standing history in Thailand, since 2004 their strength in the South has been increased massively. There is a confusing multiplicity of groups – the paramilitary rangers, an interior ministry force known as the Volunteer Defence Corps, several loosely supervised village volunteer forces and an unknown number of smaller sectarian militias – added to the regular army, police and border patrol police. The largest armed force in the South is a civilian militia consisting of Village Defence Volunteers recruited under the Internal Security Operations Command and the Village Protection Force recruited under Queen Sirikit’s direction tasked with protecting Buddhist communities. Continue reading

Getting the fish back into the water

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Photo: Boy at a checkpoint in the south (Steve Sandford)

เอาปลากลับคืนสู่น้ำ (ประชาไท)

When Madi Alilatay of Yala, southern Thailand was transferred to army premises on July 23 this year he was not charged with anything. He was not held under any law, for any reason, or for any purpose. At least, that is how the report of his custody reads. Although the 26-year-old plantation worker and eight others were ostensibly detained under sweeping emergency provisions in force across three southernmost provinces, the form consists of little more than officers’ and detainees’ names. Everything else is left blank. This is emergency law in action.

As a record of how a group of nine men were deprived of their liberty, it reflects an alarming disinterest in rules and procedure among soldiers and other personnel active in the south. And it is indicative of its type. The records of others taken during this time similarly reveal only who and when; nothing of how and why.

There are at least two reasons for this.

Continue reading