Exclusive: Bomb suspect reveals details of torture allegations “They tortured me until I won.”

Four of nine suspects in a case related to explosions in Bangkok say they faced torture and ill-treatment during military detention in March. A communist-turned-red-shirt, Sansern Sriounruen is one of the four. He revealed his account of the story, which involves a hunger strike and brutal torture. 
 
A former member of the now-defunct Communist Party of Thailand (CPT), Sansern is a 54-year-old red-shirt activist, based in the northern red-shirt capital of Chiang Mai. He is a native of central Nakhon Pathom Province, but moved up north when he joined the CPT during the cold war. After the demise of the CPT, Sansern became a farmer in Chiang Mai, and later a taxi driver in Bangkok. 
 
In 2006, although most of his comrades joined the anti-Thaksin yellow-shirt movement, he co-founded the anti-coup taxi drivers group, the first so-called red-shirt taxi drivers group. He gave speeches and lectures at several red-shirt gatherings. 
 
After the 2014 coup, with the harsh crackdown on red-shirt activists in the North and Bangkok, Sansern planned that if he was arrested, he would stage a hunger strike and also stop drinking water. He also signed a document, donating his body to the Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University. The document also stated that any remains should be buried at Phu Monya, Mae Wang District of Chiang Mai. He kept the document with him all the time.
 
At around 10 pm on 9 March, the police arrested him while he was on his way to his house in Nakhon Pathom and took him to the Metropolitan Police Headquarters. Since his arrest, Sansern stopped eating and drinking water. He always thought that the arrest was to do with his anti-coup activities.  
 
At around 11 pm, the military took him to Military Police Headquarters. There, his hands were tied behind his back with handcuffs. A black cloth was used to cover his eyes and a black plastic bag to cover his head. Apart from the worst words of intimidation one can think of, he was tortured to confess that he was responsible for the attack, said Sansern.  
 
Sansern told Prachatai that he was slapped on the face, punched on the base on the sternum and in the ribs, trampled on, and electrocuted on his thighs. 
 
He was electrocuted almost 40 times, he recounted. 
 
“During the interrogation, they found the document saying that I wanted to donate my body. They think I was preparing myself for death. They would make sure of arranging it for me.”
 
Sansern told Prachatai that he still feels pain in his ribs. 
 
Despite the torture, Sansern did not confess. 
 
“I’m a socialist. I support and admire Sinn Féin, Martin Luther King. I don’t believe in violence. That’s not my type. How could I admit that?” he said and cried. 
 
The military allegedly kept beating him for two days before realizing that they could not force him to confess. “They tortured me until I won,” he said. 
 
Before the press conference on Tuesday, the authorities stopped blindfolding him and cajoled him into eating and drinking, saying it was for the sake of their “friendship.” 
 
Sansern still was not sure how he has become involved in this. He guessed that perhaps because in early February, Charnwit Jariyanukul, a former member of the defunct CPT and now a red-shirt activist and suspect in the same case, asked Sansern to give a lecture on Thai politics in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen on 14-15 February.  
 
“I only lectured; the military thinks I planted a bomb,” said Sansern. 
 
Read related story:
 
Sansern shows traces of the alleged brutal torture
 
Sansern shows traces of the alleged brutal torture
 
Sansern shows traces of the alleged brutal torture
 
 
 

Sansern Sriounruen speaks to members of the so-called "red-shirt village" at a university in Buriram in December 2013