Allegations of torture committed by the Thai authorities against the Muslim Malay minority in Thailand’s restive Deep South doubled after the 2014 coup, a report says.
The report, released on Friday, showed at least 18 cases of alleged torture and ill-treatment since 22 May 2014, when Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha staged the coup d’état. In 2015 alone, there were 15 recorded cases, whereas a total of 17 were recorded in 2014. This is a dramatic rise over previous years which saw seven cases in 2013, two in 2011, and three in 2010 (no information is available for 2012).
The report, released on Monday, was compiled by the Cross Cultural Foundation and the Duay Jai Group. Evidence comes from in-depth interviews with victims of alleged torture and ill-treatment during pre-charge detention by the Thai military.
In the violence-plagued southernmost provinces of Thailand, formerly called Patani, composed of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat and four districts of Songkhla, the authorities can detain citizens without charge up to 37 days under the Emergency Decree and Internal Security Act. Special security laws have been in force in the region for more than a decade.
100 per cent of the cases involved ethnic Malay residents of the conflicted areas who identified themselves as Muslim.
Various methods of tortures are employed, including physical and psychological torture. The report says torture was applied to force victims to confess to crimes related to the insurgency. Most of the torture reportedly took place during interrogation.
Complaints were filed against 48 military officers and 13 police officers for committing torture and ill-treatment.
In some cases, Muslim victims were barred from praying and threatened with dogs. The perpetrators allegedly insulted Islam in front of the victims. One victim said he was arrested, forced to be naked, and beaten in a local mosque.
The report also observed that people who are religious are more prone to be detained than those who are less religious, due to stereotyping the devout as part of the separatist movement.
Anchana Heemmina from the Duay Jai group told Prachatai that the trend of human rights violations in Patani has worsened, given that more torture cases have been recorded. She added that the Thai military lately has widened its range of techniques to include sleep deprivation and detention in cold rooms, which leave fewer traces of torture. Beatings and physical violence are however still prevalent.