Thai society makes a good home for torture; media can change it, experts say

Experts say torture will cause problems for society if people are not aware that it exists and what it will lead to. It is therefore the duty of the media to make society aware of torture. 
 
On Wednesday 24 June, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Amnesty International Thailand and the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology of Silpakorn University organized a public forum on Media and Torture Prevention at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), Siam Square, Bangkok. The event was held to celebrate International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June.
 
The four speakers at the forum were Ronnakorn Boonmee of the Faculty of Law, Thammasat University, Ekaluck Lumchomkhae of the Mirror Organization, Panjai Woharndee from the Ministry of Justice and Anusorn Tipayanon from Chiang Mai University.
 
Ronnakorn said that when a person is tortured, it may affect his life and his family. Not are only the victims’ bodies and minds damaged, but the community may exclude them in the belief that those who have been tortured are bad people.
 
The media has the duty to increase social awareness that torture is unacceptable, said Ronnakorn.
 
Sometimes it is the media which legitimizes torture. They selectively present information that exacerbates hatred in society in exchange for ratings or circulation, pointed out Ekaluck.
 
He said that the media should little by little create better understanding within society. They must find ways to attract public attention to torture. The media also should express information from the point of view of both victims and perpetrators in cases of torture and let their audiences think critically about the problems of torture.
 
Anusorn said the media has a duty to create a social impact, to make society realize that torture is not right. Violence and torture are social dynamics. They will consistently grow and reach the point where people do not care whether torture exists in society. 
 
Agreeing with Ekaluck, he said that the media should consistently imbue an anti-torture mind-set in society.
 
Panjai said that torture is actually very close to our daily lives. Torture is firmly established in society so change will take time.
 
The representative from the Ministry of Justice also advised the media to be patient in order to criminalize torture in public attitudes. 
 
Ekaluck said that films should focus on social dimensions to directly create a social impact. Society takes part in the torture process as it socially condemns criminals. 
 
An anti-torture short film was screened at the event. 
 

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