Thai activists vow to fight defamation charges against military as case continues

Embattled Thai human rights activists insist their innocence as they continue to fight against lawsuits filed by the military.

The Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) had earlier sued them for online defamation after their human rights report alleged abuses against civilians in the restive Deep South by the army.
 
The three activists are; Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Director of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Somchai Homla-or, Advisor of the CrCF, and Anchana Heemmina, President of the Duay Jai group.

The three met the police to submit statements insisting that their report accurately documented evidences of torture in Thailand’s restive deep south during 2014-2015 and continue to deny charges.

The report titled ‘Torture and ill treatment in Thailand’s Deep South’, published by Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) in February 2016, documented 54 cases of torture victims who were tortured through different methods including waterboarding, electric shocks, foot roasting, and sexual assaults.

The activists could face up to seven years imprisonment if found guilty under the defamation law and the Computer Crime Act.

Under the current military government, Thailand saw increasing number of human rights activists being charged in similar fashion to silence critics and dissidents. Andy Hall, a British activist, recently left the country for fear of safety after he received four criminal and civil lawsuits for exposing abuses of the Burmese migrant workers in Thai factories. Hall was also sentenced for three years and 150,000 baht fine (€3856) in one of the cases.

“The charges are used to shut the human rights defenders up but we will not back down from exposing rights violation,” said Somchai Hom-Laor, CrCF advisor, who was one of the three accused. “For the conflict-ridden region like the deep south, we need to expose human rights violations to bring true peace,” Somchai told Prachatai.

(From left to right) Somchai Homla-or, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, and Anchana Heemmina (file photo)