Arrests and detentions of red shirts in 5 northeastern provinces

The People’s Center for Information on the April – May 2010 Crackdowns (PCI), launched on 19 July by a group of academics and activists called Santiprachadharma, has released information on the arrests and detentions of red shirts in Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen, Mukdahan, Udon Thani, and Maha Sarakham. [1]

Ubon Ratchathani Prison
45 detainees (39 men and 6 women)

Charges: offences against officials, violations of the traffic code, creating unrest, trespass, arson, gatherings that are illegal under the Emergency Decree

Prosecution status: about 15 detainees were remanded in custody; 18 were charged by the public prosecutor, some of them had no lawyers  and were in need of legal assistance; the rest were under police investigation.

Khon Kaen Prison
10 detainees (8 men and 2 women)

Charges: arson (the provincial hall and an NBT television station building)

Prosecution status: all were remanded in custody and under investigation.

Maha Sarakham Prison
12 detainees (all men)

Charges: arson, violation of curfew, possession of weapons (one detainee charged with possessing a bulletproof vest without a license)

Prosecution status: all were remanded in custody and under investigation.

Mukdahan Prison
23 detainees (22 men and 1 woman)

Charges: arson

Prosecution status: all were remanded in custody and under investigation; the detention of 17 had been extended five times; more than half had no lawyers and needed legal assistance.

Udon Thani Prison
54 detainees (44 men and 10 women)

Charges: 44 charged with arson and 10 with violations of the Emergency Decree.

Prosecution status: 3 have been convicted  and jailed for from 6 to 18 months, and were on appeal; the rest were under investigation.

Problems
Police arrests with no clear evidence   
In some villages, for example in Sawang Wirawong district in Ubon Ratchathani, more than half of the villagers were issued with arrest warrants based on photos which showed unclear faces.  Some were released after the face did not match the photo

Blanket arrests
Some who had joined the protests but had nothing to do with the burning of the provincial hall were arrested by police using photos from different incidents to implicate them in the arson incidents.  Some were arrested even though they had gone merely to observe or to take photos of protests, or had parked their vehicles near the protest sites.

One man had his photo [2] on an arrest warrant for committing arson, although he had in fact tried to stop the arson.  Similarly, a village head in Khon Kaen was arrested despite his insistence that he had tried to stop protesters from burning down and destroying public property. [3]

Abuses by the authorities
Physical assaults
In Mukdahan, 16 of the 23 detainees said that they were assaulted by police during crowd dispersals and arrests, although they did not resist.  For example, one said he went to a protest just to observe, and ran away when the protesters were dispersed.  He was hit on the head, started bleeding, and was arrested.  Another was kicked by police and his nose bled.

Forced confessions and confessions by deceit
One man said that he had been persuaded by police to confess to involvement in the burning down of the provincial hall in exchange for minimal punishment, but when he confessed, he was charged with committing crimes.

Another said that police had told him that if he did not confess to burning down the provincial hall, he would be in jail for decades.  So he did.  Others said they had been physically forced to confess by police. [4]

Legal assistance
Local lawyers had visited detainees in the 5 provincial prisons, but most of them still had no lawyers and knew nothing about their cases.  Many mistakenly understood that they were being remanded, but in fact they were about to be indicted.  The number of lawyers available for the detainees was also inadequate.  Some detainees refused legal assistance from human rights lawyers from Bangkok because of distrust in the individuals and organizations.

Bail not allowed
All detainees were denied bail by the court for fear of fleeing or committing further unrest.

Living conditions in prison
The 5 provincial prisons were crowded.  Only Ubon Ratchathani prison managed to separate male detainees from those charged with other crimes.

Impact on families
Many families have been affected in terms of income, reputation, and psychological well-being by the arrest of their members. Many detainees are their families’ breadwinners. For example, one man has three children at school and his wife has psychological problems.

Injuries and chronic illnesses
23 out of 45 detainees in Ubon Ratchathani prison had chronic illnesses including high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, paranoia, anemia, or thyroid problems.  Some sustained injuries during the dispersals, including gunshot wounds.  They were provided with only basic medication, and there were no medical specialists available.

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[1] http://www.matichon.co.th/news_detail.php?newsid=1279121692&grpid=04&catid=
[2] Some of the information, including numbers of detainees and their cases, was obtained from the data recorded by a National Human Rights Commission subcommittee during visits to these prisons on 8-11 July; the rest was from PCI field visits. 
[3] http://www.ubonratchathani.police.go.th/1_1_new_ubon/tung2010/tung-new/c...
[4] Details have been withheld for the safety of the detainees.

 

Source: 
<p>http://www.prachatai.com/journal/2010/07/30474</p>

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