Rights ac­tivists charged with defama­tion

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THREE prom­i­nent Thai rights de­fend­ers were charged on July 26 with crim­i­nal defama­tion over a rare re­port de­scrib­ing tor­ture suf­fered by de­tainees in the restive south.

Thai­land’s south­ern tip is a hot­bed of vi­o­lence, with more than 6500 peo­ple killed in a 12-year in­sur­gency by Mus­lim rebels against the Bud­dhist­ma­jor­ity state.

But the near-daily shoot­ings and bomb­ings make few in­ter­na­tional head­lines, and watch­dog groups say rights abuses are fre­quent in the shad­owy re­gion gov­erned for a decade by emer­gency laws.

Three ac­tivists be­hind the land­mark re­port on tor­ture al­legedly car­ried out by sol­diers in the south are now fac­ing jail time after the mil­i­tary charged them with defama­tion, which car­ries a two-year prison sen­tence, and with vi­o­lat­ing the com­puter crimes which car­ries three years.

Rights groups say both broadly worded laws are rou­tinely used by pow­er­ful in­ter­ests to si­lence crit­ics.

“All three de­nied the charges and will sub­mit writ­ten tes­ti­monies later,” Winyou Ti­amrat, the po­lice of­fi­cer han­dling the case in the south­ern prov­ince of Pat­tani, said of Porn­pen Khongka­chonkiet, An­chana Heem­mina and Som­chai Hom­laor. act,

Their re­port, based on in­ter­views with 54 for­mer de­tainees, de­scribed a host of phys­i­cal and men­tal tor­ture tac­tics used by sol­diers and po­lice.

Beat­ings, threats at gun­point, sen­sory de­pri­va­tion and par­tial suf­fo­ca­tion were all rou­tine dur­ing de­ten­tion, the re­port said.

The mil­i­tary, which de­nied the re­port’s al­le­ga­tions, has in the past ad­mit­ted rights abuses but pros­e­cu­tions of sol­diers are ex­tremely rare. –

Photo: AFP

Weapons are laid out in a bunker dur­ing Thai army com­man­der-in-chief Teer­achai Nak­wanich’s visit to a mil­i­tary base in the restive south­ern prov­ince of Narathi­wat on July 26.

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