Arrest threat for Amnesty
Rights activists warned in Thailand
Thai authorities threatened to arrest Amnesty International speakers ahead of a news conference to release a report detailing allegations of torture at the hands of the military and police.
Beatings, suffocation by plastic bags and electric shocks of the genitals are among the torture methods used by Thai soldiers and police under the military government, according to the report, which was sent to news organisations earlier this week but was to be officially released yesterday.
Just before the news conference was to begin, officials from Thailand’s Ministry of Labour warned Amnesty that the two speakers set to talk about the report did not possess work permits and therefore risked arrest if either one spoke on stage. Amnesty cancelled the event.
“We know that the current government does not accept criticism very well,” one of the slated speakers, Yuval Ginbar, Amnesty’s legal adviser, told reporters outside the room where the news conference was to take place.
“But what is happening in the unofficial places of detention – people being beaten up, people being suffocated, people being water boarded – and what happens in police roadblocks where suspected drug users are forced to urinate in public or are coerced into paying bribes to get released, this is more important than what we’re facing here.”
Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd defended the Ministry of Labour’s actions by saying no matter which organisation the speakers are from, they must comply with the law. If they do not possess work permits, they risk arrest, he said.
“Our laws don’t have multiple standards, we have only one standard,” Sansern said. “We all have to follow these laws. Even if we are criticised, the law is the law.”
Without mentioning the Amnesty report directly, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said that “only a few people” are violating the law.
In its report, Amnesty International documented 74 cases of torture and other illtreatment by military and police officials since the junta’s takeover of the country in a May 2014 coup.
74 Amnesty International documented 74 cases of torture and other ill-treatment