THAILAND: No answers for families of 12 disappeared persons
September 1, 2006
URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
1 September 2006
UA-286-2006: THAILAND: No answers for families of 12 disappeared persons
THAILAND: Forced disappearance; denial of right to life; illegal emergency law
PETITION - PETITION - PETITION - PETITION
REFORM THE DSI FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THAILAND
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), through its sister organisation, has submitted details to the United Nations of 12 persons who have allegedly been abducted by the security forces in southern Thailand. They are among some 23 cases acknowledged by the government of Thailand in which the families have been paid compensation, but not given any information about what happened to their loved ones. Up until recently the families and other persons were unwilling to publicise the details because of the heavy fear hanging over the southern provinces. Due to the intervention of local rights groups and others they are now prepared to speak out and demand answers from the authorities. Please support their calls.
On 30 August 2006 the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) together with the Working Group on Justice and Peace, a new local human rights group chaired by Angkhana Neelaphaijit, wife of missing lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit (http://www.ahrchk.net/somchai), submitted the details of 12 disappearances in southern Thailand, arising from seven incidents between 2002 and 2005, to the United Nations (ALRC-PL-006-2006).
In the past it had been very difficult to submit such cases to the UN due to the heavy pressure on the families and overwhelming fear in the region. However, with the work of Angkhana and other rights defenders it has become possible.?
?lt;br />Summarised details of the 12 disappearances are given below. In each the government has paid the families 100,000 Thai Baht (USD 2500) per disappeared person, but has never given any information about what happened to the accused, or conducted credible investigations to identify and hold perpetrators accountable. Under any circumstances, the southern provinces remain under the use of an Emergency Decree which a UN rights expert has described as allowing "soldiers and police officers to get away with murder" (AHRC-PL-056-2006).
Angkhana Neelaphaijit has herself refused the payment of compensation for her husband, who was abducted by the police, saying that only full criminal justice will do (AHRC-PL-65-2006).
TWELVE DISAPPEARANCES NEWLY REPORTED TO THE UNITED NATIONS
1 & 2. Ya Jaodohlaoh & Waeharong Rorhing
On 25 March 2002, Pol. Sgt. Maj. Theeranuth Janthano (Yala Provincial Police) and Pol. Sgt. Maj. Wirathphong Boonchaiyo (Crime Suppression Division) told 45-year-old Ya Jaodohlaoh to meet them at the Parkview Hotel in downtown Yala at 5pm the next day, in order to enquire about information on a bombing. At the appointed time, Ya went with his friend, Waeharong Rorhing (38), on a motorcycle borrowed from a neighbour.
The two men met the police with three other persons for about one hour. After that, they went together to have dinner and at 7pm the police told two others to go home. The remaining three were asked to go back to the hotel. After about two more hours of questioning, the police took the three men for tea at a place about 300 metres away. Then Pol. Sgt. Maj. Wirathphong said that he accidentally left his money at the hotel and asked Ya and Waeharong to go back for it. They left and were never seen again. The motorcycle was found dumped in a rubber plantation in a neighbouring province.
On March 27 the families of the two men were immediately suspicious and complained against the two police officers. However, the public prosecutor failed to lodge a case, on advice from the police force itself.
3. Sakariya Kajeh
On 29 June 2003 51-year-old farmer and head of a local community radio organisation, Sakariya Kajeh, left his house with a guest named Mr Suriya, from a nearby district, to buy medicine in Yala town for his son; however, he did not come home.
On June 30, his wife was told that two pick-up trucks carrying a lot of men came to the village and took away Suriya and Sakariya. There were a number of eyewitnesses, but all were too afraid to come forward. The motorcycle that the two men had used was found on a roadside.
When the family lodged a complaint at the local police station on the same day, the police did not record it properly. After they went to another district, they could get the complaint recorded. But they never received any more information. A subdistrict official told them that the men had been suspected of involvement in militant activities.
4 & 5. Budeman Woni & Imrohim Gayo
Budeman Woni (25), a rubber tapper, left home at around 4pm on 7 January 2004 to borrow some petrol money from the wife of his neighbour, Imrohim Gayo, a 30-year-old bus conductor. He told her that he planned to go to Yala town with a person called Aumran, who had come to see him a couple of days earlier. Then he left.
At 2am on January 8 Aumran came and asked for Imrohim. When Imrohim came out he saw over ten men wearing military-style uniforms in a green and white pick-up truck. They took him away, handcuffed, on the back of the pick-up truck. Aumran said that Budeman had been arrested by the police.
The following afternoon, the families complained to the police, and later to various other authorities, but they have never heard anything of what happened to the two men.?
6. Adduloh Hayimasaleh
Adduloh Hayimasaleh, a 43-year-old motorcycle taxi driver with four children, was taking customers to and from the Yala Train Station as usual on 5 June 2005. When he did not come back home for lunch, his wife went looking for him. He could not be found. The family lodged a complaint with the police, but received no information.
After five months, an eyewitness came and reportedly told the family that he had seen two pick-up trucks following the victim and a passenger. According to him, the first vehicle forced the bike to stop and then the two persons on the bike were put in the car. Persons from the second vehicle loaded the motorbike into the back. Both cars then drove off in different directions.
?lt;br />7. Muhammadsimee Guna
Muhammadsimee Guna, a 22-year-old teacher trainee, did not come home from Yala town on 15 July 2005 as he usually did each Friday. His family could not reach him by mobile phone. He never returned.
On July 17, about 50 police, soldiers and village militia volunteers searched the family's house and took all the documents they could find about the young man, including photographs and study certificates. They took his parents to the Yala Central District Police Station, where they interrogated them for around seven hours, accusing their son of being behind a bomb attack. They released the parents but never gave any further information.
?lt;br />8. Wae Addul Waheng Baning
On 15 October 2005, Waheng Baning, a 24-year-old student, rode his motorbike to go from Yala Province to a relative's house in Pattani. After he did not come back, the family reported his disappearance to the subdistrict administration chief, and then went to check nearby prisons and police detention facilities. They also checked for unidentified bodies with concerned associations, and lodged an appeal with the Yala provincial governor. But they never heard anything of what happened to the young man.
9, 10, 11 & 12. Muhamad Senren, Adduloh Salam, Waesainun Waenawae & Ku-amad Ahmeeden?
Muhamad Senren (22), Waesainun Waenawae (22), Adduloh Salam (21) and Ku-amad Ahmeeden (21) were a group of friends who went out by car on the night of 1 November 2005 and were never seen again. According to an eyewitness, the police followed the four victims as they left their district in Pattani. Shortly after, none of their mobile phones were answering.?
Ku-amad had just been acquitted of murdering the son of a high-ranked police officer.
The families all lodged complaints with the police and other government agencies about one week after the men went missing. There was some kind of investigation, as police came to take DNA for tests. But the families have never received any information about the young men.?
Since 2004, the conflict and attendant human rights abuses in the south of Thailand have steadily intensified. In its recent final report to the government, the National Reconciliation Commission, which was set up to resolve the violence in the south, put most of the blame on heavy-handed government policies and the growing militarisation of the region (see example news article: Disarm troops, NRC says).?
The context and manner in which these disappearances occurred suggests military or police involvement. In particular, the use of one or two pick-up trucks is a common feature of reported abductions.
In June the AHRC reported on the alleged abduction of Wae-halem Guwaegama by military personnel (UA-186-2006). No further information has been available on his case since that time, and the local community is reported to be living in extreme fear.
There is at present no reliable estimate of the total number of persons who have been forcibly disappeared in the south of Thailand since 2002, when hostilities steadily increased under the current administration. Informed persons put the number in the hundreds. Due to the lack of effective avenues for complaint and overwhelming fear, families of victims have not generally come forward to complain publicly (see AS-133-2006).
Attempts by the Central Institute of Forensic Science under the justice ministry to open and investigate some 400 unmarked graves in the affected provinces, which may contain the remains of any or all of the above 12 victims, among others, have been thwarted by the police and local officials: see further UG-010-2006.
These cases all also speak to the patent lack of protection for witnesses and families of victims in the south. For related information see: Protecting witnesses or perverting justice in Thailand, article 2, vol. 5, no. 3, June 2006.
Please write to the Caretaker Minister of Justice and other persons below to ask what investigations have been undertaken into these cases, and when the families can expect justice. Please also ask for Thailand to join a new UN treaty to prohibit disappearances.??lt;br />
To support this appeal, please click:
THAILAND: What action has been taken to identify and prosecute perpetrators of disappearances?
I am writing to ask what progress has been taken to investigate acknowledged forced disappearances in the south of Thailand, and prosecute perpetrators.
I am aware that the government of Thailand has paid compensation of 100,000 Thai Baht to some 23 families in the south in recognition that their family members have been disappeared. But to my knowledge, none of the families have ever been informed of what happened to their loved ones. Nor have any credible investigations leading to criminal prosecutions followed.
In particular, I have been informed of 12 persons whose details have been lodged with the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, whose families are waiting for answers from your government:
1. Ya Jaodohlaoh, 45, of Village 4, Patao Subdistrict, Yaha District, Yala, who went missing after being together with Pol. Sgt. Maj. Theeranuth Janthano (Yala Provincial Police) and Pol. Sgt. Maj. Wirathphong Boonchaiyo (Crime Suppression Division) on 26 March 2002; the public prosecutor failed to proceed with complaints against the two police; the UN has already received the case and communicated it to your government, pending reply.
?lt;br />2. Waeharong Rorhing, 38, of Village 4, Patae Subdistrict, Yaha District, Yala Province, who disappeared together with Ya Jaodohlaoh.
3. Sakariya Kajeh, 51, of Village 5, Yala-Betong Road, Kongpenang Subdistrict, Kongpenang District, Yala Province, who went missing with a man named Suriya on 29 June 2003 after going to Yala town to buy some medicine; Sakariya's wife was informed that he husband and the other man were taken by a group of men in pick-up trucks.
4. Budeman Woni, 25, of Village 11, Bannansata District, Yala Province, who went missing on 7 January 2004 after going to borrow money from the family of Imrohim Gayo, whose wife was told that Budeman was arrested by the police.
5. Imrohim Gayo, 30, of Village 5, Mamawee Subdistrict, Yarang District, Pattani Province, who was taken by a group of men in a pick-up truck in the early morning of 8 January 2004; the UN has already received the case and communicated it to your government, pending reply.
?lt;br />6. Adduloh Hayimasaleh, 43, of Witoo-uthi Road No. 1, Sateng Subdistrict, Central District, Yala Province, who disappeared from his work as a motorcycle taxi driver outside the Yala Train Station on the afternoon of 5 June 2005; his family was reportedly told by an eyewitness that Adduloh and a passenger were taken into two pick-up trucks by a group of men.
7. Muhammadsimee Guna, 22, of Village 3, Prachan Subdistrict, Yarang District, Pattani Province, who failed to come home on 15 July 2005; on July 17 his family's house was raided and documents and photographs of the disappeared person removed, while his parents were interrogated on the accusation that their son was a militant.
8. Wae Addul Waheng Baning, 24, of Village 6, Patae Subdistrict, Yaha District, Yala Province, who disappeared without a trace while travelling by motorcycle between Yala and Pattani provinces on 18 October 2005.
9. Muhamad Senren, 22, of Village 5, Pakaharang Subdistrict, Central District, Pattani Province, who disappeared while travelling by car with three friends on 1 November 2005, after reportedly being followed by the police.?
10. Adduloh Salam, 21, of Pakaharang Subdistrict, Central District, Pattani Province, who disappeared together with Muhamad Senren.
11. Waesainun Waenawae, 22, of Village 7, Pakaharang Subdistrict, Central District, Pattani Province, who disappeared together with Muhamad Senren.
12. Ku-amad Ahmeeden, 21, of Village 7, Pakaharang Subdistrict, Central District, Pattani Province, who disappeared together with Muhamad Senren.
While the families of all of these persons have received compensation from your government, what they would really like to know is what happened to them. As expressed by Angkhana Neelaphaijit, wife of abducted lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, at very least they want the remains of their loved ones, to be able to give them proper funerals. But at present, all they have received is a pittance, and no explanation or evidence of serious interest in addressing the problem of forced disappearances in Thailand from your government.
In this respect I note also that Angkhana Neelaphaijit has herself refused the money offered from the government for the abduction of her husband, and demanded nothing less than full justice. I believe that this sentiment is shared by all families of disappeared persons in your countries. I urge you to respond accordingly.
In this respect, I also call upon your government to:
1. Withdraw the Emergency Decree over the southern provinces, which has been condemned worldwide as obnoxious to human rights and giving police and soldiers there a licence to kill;
2. Implement the recommendations of the National Reconciliation Commission without further delay;
3. Permit uninhibited access to all unmarked graves in the south by independent forensic experts, including from the Central Institute of Forensic Science and abroad;
4. Allow free visits by all UN special experts on human rights to assess the situation in the south of Thailand, and the country as a whole; and,
5. Sign the new UN Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as soon as it comes into effect later this year.?
Finally, I wish to remind you of the recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee to the government of Thailand, with reference to your country's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
"The Committee is concerned at the persistent allegations of serious human rights violations, including widespread instances of extrajudicial killings and ill-treatment by the police and members of armed forces... The Committee further notes with concern that this situation reflects a lack of effective remedies available to victims of human rights violations, which is incompatible with article 2, paragraph 3, of the Covenant (arts. 2, 6, 7). The State party [Thailand] should conduct full and impartial investigations into these and such other events and should, depending on the findings of the investigations, institute proceedings against the perpetrators. The State party should also ensure that victims and their families, including the relatives of missing and disappeared persons, receive adequate redress... [CCPR/CO/84/THA, 8 July 2005, para. 10]
It remains to be seen whether or not in any of the above 12 cases your government has the willingness, interest or determination to do the same.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:
1. Pol. Gen. Chidchai Wanasatidya
Caretaker Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
22nd Floor Software Park Building,
Chaeng Wattana Road
Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223
Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:
1. Pol. Lt. Col. Dr Thaksin Shinawatra
Caretaker Prime Minister
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
2. ACM Kongsak Wantana
Caretaker Minister of Interior
Office of the Ministry of Interior
Tel: +662 224-6320/ 6341
Fax: +662 226 4371/ 222 8866
3. Pracha Terat
Narathiwat Provincial Office
A. Muang, Narathiwat 96000
Tel: +66 73 514 320 ext. 76027
Fax: +66 73 514 320 ext. 76029
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Mr. Panu U-thairat
Governor, Pattani Province
Pattani Province 94000
5. Mr. Boonyasit Suwannarat
Governor, Yala Province
6. Prof. Saneh Chamarik
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathum Wan District
Tel: +662 2219 2980
Fax: +66 2 219 2940
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (email@example.com)?lt;br />