Prayut asks media to stop reporting corporal’s death at military camp

A military spokesman earlier blamed the death of a corporal on his poor health, rather than on inhumane and excessive-punishment imposed by his superior officer, and the junta leader has reiterated the claim and urged the media to stop reporting about the death, and focus on the Army’s good side. 
 
Last week, the public was outraged over the death of an Army corporal, Panya Ngoenrian. Panya died of heatstroke after his commander ordered him as a punishment to run 7.5 kilometres without lunch, plus 20 sets of burpees, despite the intense heat of the day. (read the full story here)
 
On Monday, 27 June 2016, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta head and PM, told the media at Government House that the Royal Thai Army is investigating the death, He also said that punishment of this kind was very common in the military, adding that the corporal might have had a personal health problem, Matichon Online reported
 
“When I was a cadet, I experienced the same. Being a cadet is not easy but I underwent it without seeing anyone’s death. He [Panya] might have been unhealthy, which is a different issue,” said Prayut. “Why do you [media] keep reporting small details while the military has made many contributions? Report on something good. Encourage us sometimes. Military personnel are also Thai people, not aliens.” 
 
This statement is in accordance with the earlier response from the Army’s spokesperson, Col Winthai Suwari. He said the commander might have overestimated the corporal’s health, adding that the punishment Panya received did not violate the law or the military code of practice, Post Today reported on 25 June. 
 
Every year, soldiers, especially draftees, reportedly die from such ill-treatment in military camps across the country. Ill-treatment such as beating and excessive punishment is justified as discipline to be imposed on personnel who fail to follow their commanders’ orders or violate military rules. Earlier this year, a draftee was beaten to death by six soldiers for trying to escape from a military camp in the Deep South. However, none of them have so far been prosecuted.   
 
 
(left) Corporal Panya Ngoenrian, (right) Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha (source: Panya’s Facebook and Matichon Online)