Men believed to be security officers intimidate Deep South activist

Men claiming to be border police officers have visited the home of a Deep South activist who took part in compiling a recent report on the torture of Malay Muslims in the region.  

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that at about 5 pm on Friday, 19 February 2016, a group of ten men in green uniforms visited the home of Anchana Heemmina, a local activist in the Duay Jai Group, in Songkhla Province.

The men visited while Anchana’s 75-year-old-mother was alone in the house. Without presenting any warrant, they claimed to be border police officers and asked about Anchana’s work and her personal information.

The activist’s mother reported that the men took pictures of her and the house.

She added that before they left they told her to inform Anchana not to use Line, a chat application, or Facebook.

On 19 January, three men in similar green uniforms visited a cloth shop in Saba Yoi District market of Songkhla and asked about Anchana while she was not at the shop. The men did not disclose their identities.   

Anchana said that the visits were a direct result of her involvement in a report on allegations of torture committed by the Thai authorities against members of the Muslim Malay minority who had been arrested for alleged involvement with Deep South insurgent groups.

The report was compiled by the Cross Cultural Foundation and the Duay Jai Group.

The report recorded 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, there were 15 recorded cases, whereas 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).

Anchana told Prachatai earlier 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.

The report was submitted to Lt Gen Wiwat Pathompak, Commander of the 4th Army Region, on 10 January.

On 14 February, the 4th Army Region Commander contacted Anchana and other activists who were involved in compiling the report and summoned them for a discussion.

Earlier this month, Khaosod English reported that Col Pramote Promin, spokesman for the Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC) of the 4th Army Region, denounced the report, saying that it was a work of fiction aimed at discrediting the Thai Army.

“It’s the result of imagination not based on reality,” Khaosod quoted Pramote as saying.

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.

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