Tag Archives: Srimanta

Torture still a dirty secret in Thailand

torture 500

(การทรมานยังเป็นความลับที่สกปรกในเมืองไทย)

A little over a week ago, the Bangkok Post reported that a special inquiry unit under Thailand’s Justice Ministry had asked the public prosecutor to lodge charges against six police officers for allegedly torturing a man in their custody.

The police in Ayutthaya, near Bangkok, hooded Ekkawat Srimanta and beat him all over his body to force him to confess to a robbery that he did not commit. Then they repeatedly electrocuted his genitals and groin.

Unlike many victims of police torture in Thailand, Ekkawat survived. And unlike most, he was released shortly afterward and admitted to hospital. The next day, photographs of his damaged body were published in major dailies. Senior officers rushed to his bedside, pretended that they cared if he lived or died, and made phony promises to look into things.

All that was five years ago. What happened since demonstrates the utter failure not only of the government of Thailand but also of its society to come to terms with the blight of torture, or do anything much about it. 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