Suspected insurgent admitted to ICU after being held in military camp

Abdullah Isomuso, 32, was admitted to the intensive care unit of Pattani Hospital on 21 July after he was found unconscious in his cell at the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp in Pattani.

The sign in front of the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp, where Abdullah was detained

Abdullah was detained under Martial Law on 20 July for suspected involvement in unknown insurgent activity, after a group of military officers searched his house in Sai Buri District, Pattani Province. He was subsequently taken to the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp. At 9 am on 21 July, his family was informed that he had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Pattani Hospital.

Arun Prasertsuk, Deputy Director of Pattani Hospital, said on Monday (22 July) that Abdullah is still unresponsive. His pulse rate and blood pressure have improved, but his pupils are dilated and the brain shows no response. Arun said that this is because the brain was deprived of oxygen for about 30 minutes. However, there was no visible physical injury other than a small scratch on his ankle.

As for the cause of the injuries, Arun said that they are waiting for evidence from specialists before they can speculate any further. After spending hours convincing the family, the medical team has had Abdullah transferred to the better-equipped Songklanagarind Hospital in Hat Yai.  

Abdullah’s family said that he was physically healthy and has no pre-existing conditions. His wife, Sumaiya, has filed a complaint with the police at the Mueang Pattani Police Station about what happened to her husband, and Abdullah’s family have also informed the police about officers taking photos of people who came to visit Abdullah while he was in the ICU, as this makes them feel unsafe. 

Meanwhile, police investigation officers went to the Inquiry Unit at the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp to gather evidence. However, when they asked to see footage from the CCTV cameras inside the Inquiry Unit, officials at the camp said that all of the cameras were broken.

Numerous civil society organizations subsequently express their concerns about the incident and called for an investigation into what happened to Abdullah. The Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF) issued a statement, co-signed by 8 other civil society organizations and 6 individuals, expressing concerns that Abdullah might have been subjected to torture while in detention. CrCF said that it has received a number of complaints of alleged torture and ill-treatment of detainees by security officers inside military detention facilities during the 15 years of armed conflict in Thailand’s Deep South, and noted that Abdullah’s case “appears to match the general pattern of alleged torture that [CrCF] have consistently observed in this region.”

CrCF and the co-signatories of the statement then call for the authorities to set up a fact-finding committee to investigate Abdullah’s case, which must be independent of national security agencies to prevent conflict of interest, for the responsible officers and individuals be brought to justice and disciplined, and for the relevant authorities to be held accountable and compensate and remedy the injured party. They also ask that security officers follow human rights principles and strive to prevent and end torture and ill-treatment in order to forge public trust in the government and bring peace to Thailand’s southern border, and that the Thai government criminalize torture and enforced disappearances. They also ask that national security agencies consider stopping the enforcement of special laws in arresting and detaining suspects and have recourse to the normal criminal procedure, for government agencies to come up with proper measures to prevent torture and any other forms of human rights violations against arrestees and detainees, and for the government to issue standard guidelines and a code of ethics for its officials in line with international human rights standards and the rule of law.

Amnesty International Thailand also issued a statement calling for “a prompt, effective and independent investigation” into Abdullah’s alleged torture, which must be carried out by an independent agency, not by the military authorities themselves, and for the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) to conduct an “independent, impartial and effective” investigation into the case. If it is established that Abdulloah was tortured, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

Amnesty urges authorities to provide more effective safeguards against torture and ensure that those held in custody in various facilities, including military camps, have prompt access to legal counsel, family members and independent medical treatment. It also urges authorities to permit unannounced visits by human rights organizations to all detention facilities and to repeal or amend legislation that allows for detention without charge or trial and increases the risk of torture and ill-treatment – including in unauthorized places of detention – to prevent torture and ensure compliance with Thailand’s international human rights obligations.

Meanwhile, MARA Patani, the umbrella organization of the insurgent groups active in the southern border provinces, issued an open letter condemning Abdullah’s alleged torture, saying that “the fact that Mr. Abdullah was a suspect based on implication did not mandate the interrogators to inflict bodily harm against him, let alone causing near death injuries” and condemning the alleged torture as an “inhumane act of cowardice,” “severe violation of human rights,” and “gross negligence during the interrogation process.”

MARA Patani calls for the relevant authorities to “do whatever possible, within your powers, to help find a political solution out of this conflict” since the military approach adopted by the government has failed to curb the violence, while animosity and retaliation from the movement escalates. The organization then calls for the continuation of the oft-stalled peace process in order for a “true political outcome” to be achieved for the “just, comprehensive and sustainable peace in Patani.”