Police accuse Deep South anti-torture activists of defaming military

Police in the restive Deep South of Thailand have accused three prominent human rights defenders of defaming the Thai army after the three published a report on the torture and inhumane treatment of Muslim Malay suspects in military camps.    
 
On Tuesday, 26 July 2016, police officers in Pattani Province accused Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Director of the Cross Cultural Foundation, Somchai Homla-or, Advisor of the Duay Jai group, and Anchana Heemmina, President of the Duay Jai group, of defaming the Royal Thai Army. The three denied the accusation and the police released them without bail, reported BBC Thai.  
 
The complaint was filed on 17 May by the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 after the human rights defenders published the report, released earlier this year, on allegations of the torture of ethnic Muslim Malays in the Deep South in 2014 and 2015. The report reveals more than 50 cases of torture allegations during that time. 
 
Prior to the event, a number of domestic and international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Human Rights Lawyers Association, have issued statements demanding that ISOC withdraw the complaint.
 
The Cross Cultural Foundation, Duay Jai Group and Patani Human Rights Organization Network, the co-editors of the controversial report, told BBC Thai that they were funded by the United Nations for Victims of Torture. They collected data from 2014 to 2015 by talking to torture victims. The report basically aims to bring justice to the victims by finding a proper legal remedy for them, without the intention to defame any particular organization. 
 
The three organizations also added that this lawsuit has proved that Thailand is failing to follow the Convention Against Torture, which the country signed in 2006.
 
 
(from left to right) Somchai Homla-or, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, and Anchana Heemmina

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