Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, a veteran labour activist and editor of Voice of Taksin magazine, has written to the National Human Rights Commission, calling on the body to look into his case. He and Chulalongkorn history lecturer Dr Suthachai Yimprasert reported to the CRES on 21 May, and were sent to be held in custody at a military camp in Saraburi. They were denied the right to see lawyers. Suthachai was released on 1 May, but Somyot has still remained in detention. Several labour groups in Thailand and other countries have been campaigning to call for his release.
Adisorn Army Barrack, Saraburi, Thailand
31 May 2010
Subject: Human rights violation complaint
Dear the National Human Rights Commission,
The government led by Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva and Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban invoked the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005) to arrest and hold in custody me, Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Dr. Suthachai Yimprasert. We are accused of being suspects who may commit serious public disorder in breach of the Emergency Decree. Therefore, we have decided to turn ourselves in to the police officials at the Crime Suppression Division on 24 May 2010. Later, we were brought to be held in custody at the Adisorn Army Barrack, Saraburi, Thailand. Such an act of the government is a grave violation of freedom, liberty and human rights which I shall describe as the following;
1. I have not been part of the core leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) since May 2009. Insofar, I have neither attended any meeting nor got involved in any way with the UDD leadership at all levels. I have not even participated in the demonstrations at both Pan Fah and Ratchaprasong during 14 March – 19 May 2010.
2. I work as editor in chief of the “Voice of Taksin”, a biweekly magazine, and have been performing my roles as a professional journalist who wants to convey truths and express my opinions and criticisms toward the government’s policy. I have not been in any way related to Pol. Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister, and the title “Voice of Taksin” is a registered trademark.
3. That I, Dr. Suthachai Yimpresert and Ajahn Yodyiam Srimanta, three of us, held a press conference at 12.30 on 21 May 2010 in front of the House No. 111 [a foundation set up by former executives of the Thai Rak Thai Party who have been banned from politics for 5 years - Prachatai], cannot be considered a gathering of more than five people upward with political motivation. The purpose of the press conference was simply to express our different views from the government and to offer five recommendations to restore peace and reconciliation in society.
At the press conference, we announced that a demonstration will be held on 30 May 2010 at the Khao Kaenchan Public Park in Ratchaburi province starting from 15.00 until 21.00. The announcement was made ten days in advance and only 500 people were expected to turn up at the multipurpose pavilion in the park.
The gathering was supposed to be held in the province of Ratchaburi, outside the area designated by the Emergency Decree. The schedule of activities to be held in the public park is clearly spelled out with exact topics. Therefore, it has to be considered a peaceful demonstration which causes no trouble to public and shall not engender any emergency situation. It is simply an exercise of one’s freedom and liberty as provided for by the Constitution.
Another announcement made was about the commemoration of the 78th anniversary of the change to democracy in Thailand. Scheduled to take place on 24 June, it shall be composed of academic program to educate the public. Such an event has been held every year at either the Rattanakosin Hotel or Sanamluang.
Should the government deem the activities may lead to public disorder, it is authorized to cite the Emergency Decree to ban them. Instead, the government has resorted to holding us in custody and depriving us of liberty, which is a violation of our human rights.
4. I and Dr. Suthachai have been held in ex-communicado detention. We are denied access to our lawyers and to defend ourselves, the rights of which are accorded in a normal justice process. The accusation was made unilaterally and was an unfair treatment to me.
5. While proposing a roadmap to reconciliation, the government has resorted to the excessive use of force to hold me in custody without any likeliness of the possible negotiation.
6. The holding of me and Dr. Suthachai in custody has caused grave impact on our lives, our properties, our families and our career.
During the detention, I have been bestowed with convenience and generosity of the officials at the Adisorn Army Barrack. But the government has used its powers excessively to violate my fundamental rights and freedom and my human dignity.
Herewith, I would like to complain to the National Human Rights Commission and please consider the complaints raised by me and Dr. Suthachai as an urgent matter in order to ensure protection of human rights.
Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk
Letter translated by Pipob Udomittipong