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UPDATE (Thailand): Three vocational training detainees rearrested; police threaten others

November 5, 2007

UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION- URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Update on Urgent Appeal

5 November 2007

[Re: UG-005-2007: THAILAND: Hundreds of villagers rounded up and detained in southern Thailand; UP-143-2007: THAILAND: Hundreds released from army detention prevented from going home]
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UP-145-2007: THAILAND: Three vocational training detainees rearrested; police threaten others

THAILAND: Arbitrary arrest & detention, emergency regulations, denial of freedom of movement & residence, internal displacement, declining rule of law
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END EMERGENCY DECREE IN SOUTHERN THAILAND
http://thailand.ahrchk.net/edecree

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Dear friends,

Further to our recent update on court orders that at least 300 men in southern Thailand could not be held at so-called "vocational training" camps against their will (UP-123-2007), the police have since rearrested three and threatened others to go back to the camps if they don't also want to be taken back into custody by force.

UPDATED INFORMATION:
 
According to information from the Working Group on Justice for Peace (Thailand) and other sources, after the courts in Surat Thani, Chumphon and Ranong ordered on 30 October 2007 that the army could not keep the over 300 men in camps in those provinces without charge against their will, the detainees left the camps and came to the main mosque in Surat Thani. They could not go home because of an army order preventing them from entering the border provinces where they live (see also AHRC-PL-048-2007).

Then, on Saturday, November 3, police from the central district police station in Surat Thani came to the mosque and took one of the men, 23-year-old Ma-yaki Manputay, back into custody with an order issued by a court in Yala, under emergency regulations.

Around 9am on Sunday, November 4, senior police from Surat Thani came and said that they had warrants for three more of the people released from the camps. Then they said that if the people staying at the mosque would go back to the training camps then no more warrants would be issued.

Two more men, Nisay Ha-yitalay and Abdulroman Duramei, were taken back into custody from the mosque. There is a court order for another, Latay Nisor, but he had not been arrested because he had not yet left from the training camp: this appears to be the message that the authorities want to send to the persons who have gone out from the camps against its wishes. There is information that orders for arrest will shortly be issued against at least another three of those who have left.

On November 5, today, lawyers moved to get the arrests of the three men revoked by the court in Yala, arguing that the arrests are not in accordance with the emergency provisions and are outside of its jurisdiction, as they were carried out in a province not under emergency rule.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

The rearrest of these men is an example of the sort of "evidence-less" arrest and prosecution which prevails in Thailand, not only in the southern provinces or under emergency provisions. The director of Department of Rights and Liberties Protection in 2006 estimated that more than 30 percent of criminal cases sent to court lack evidence (AS-261-2006)--see as an example the recent acquittal of a group of protestors against a gas pipeline project: UA-279-2007. Meanwhile, powerful people who have committed grave crimes against whom there is sufficient evidence are not brought to court: for instance, General Pallop Pinmanee, who was found in a post mortem inquest to be responsible--along with two other officers--for the deaths of 28 persons in 2004, but he has never been prosecuted and is instead preparing to run for parliament in the upcoming general election (see UP-069-2007).

The emergency regulations over the southern provinces were introduced by the former prime minister to protect security officials there from prosecution. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings has commented that they enable army and police personnel to "get away with murder". The regulations have greatly inflamed the violence in the south since they were introduced over two years ago. They were recently renewed for the tenth time.

For full details on the decree and violence in the south visit the campaign page

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the concerned authorities to call for the release of these men, no more rearrests, and for an inquiry into the vocational training camp programme and an end to the Emergency Decree on the southern provinces without delay.

To support this appeal, please click here:

Suggested letter:

Dear ________,

THAILAND: Rearrests of vocational training detainees who were released by courts

Names and details of victims:
1. Ma-yaki Manputay, 23, resident of Dharsiri Subdistrict, Sabayoi District, Songkhla Province; left from Surat Thani Vocational Training Camp on 31 October 2007; rearrested at Surat Thani Central Mosque on 3 November 2007 under order of Yala Provincial Court of 2 November 2007 at request of Pol. Lt. Pandasak Silert, investigating officer, Kabang District Police Station, Yala; held at Surat Thani Central District Police Station, and then the police coordination centre in Yala
2. Nisay Ha-yitalay, 40, resident of Pajo Subdistrict, Bannang Sata District, Yala Province; ; left from Chumpon Vocational Training Camp on 31 October 2007; rearrested at Surat Thani Central Mosque on 4 November 2007; being held at police coordination centre in Yala
3. Abdulroman Duramei, 51, resident of Pajo Subdistrict, Bannang Sata District, Yala Province; rearrested at Surat Thani Central Mosque on 4 November 2007; being held at police coordination centre in Yala

I am writing to express my grave concern at the rearrests of three persons in the south of Thailand who had only just been released from army custody under court orders of 30 October 2007, and threats to others. 

The men--Ma-yaki Manputay, Nisay Ha-yitalay and Abdulroman Duramei--who were among over 300 who left army camps after the courts in Surat Thani, Chumpon and Ranong provinces found that they could not be held by the army without charge and against their will, were again taken into police custody on 3 and 4 November 2007, and shortly thereafter transferred to police detention in Yala, under section 11 of the Emergency Decree BE 2548 (2005).

In addition, I am informed that there are fears about the possible imminent arrest of a number of others, particularly those who were involved in organising and leading the detainees in the cases they took to the courts under section 90 of the Criminal Procedure Code to secure their release from detention. Meanwhile, police officers have reportedly threatened other detainees that there would be more arrests if they don't go back to the so-called "training camps". Apparently in order to send this message clearly, there is reported to be an order for the rearrest of another man, Latay Nisor, but he has not been brought into custody because he has not yet left the training camp. 

I am aware that lawyers for the rearrested men have on 5 November 2007 sought to have the arrests of the three men revoked by the Yala Provincial Court, on grounds of jurisdiction and that they are not in accordance with the provisions of the Emergency Decree.

But beyond the narrow legal concerns that arise, I am also more broadly worried about what these rearrests indicate about the breakdown in the rule of law in the south of Thailand. Declining judicial authority and growing lawlessness are usually accompanied by such actions of police and military officials, resentful that the courts still have some power to stop or delimit their activities. Such practices have been seen in other countries of Asia at times of looming crises and are a bad sign for Thailand at a time that it is beset by various difficulties.

Accordingly I urge that these men be released and together with the others who left the camps in Surat Thani, Chumpon and Ranong be allowed to go back to their homes and be given guarantees of protection; and, there be no more needless and evidence-less arrests of persons under Emergency Decree or Martial Law provisions, not only for their own sake but also for the sake of the judicial system of Thailand as a whole. 

Finally, I also take this opportunity to call for an independent inquiry into the establishing and running of these "vocational training camps" and for the revocation of the Emergency Decree over the southern provinces, neither of which have done anything to reduce the amount of violence in the region or improve the relationship between the people and state there. Indeed, that can only be done, as has been pointed out by many informed persons over the years, by strengthening, rather than undermining, the hands of the justice system there. 

Sincerely,

_______________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. General Surayud Chulanont
Interim Prime Minister
c/o Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300
THAILAND
Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
E-mail: spokesman@thaigov.go.th

2. General Sonthi Boonyaratglin
Interim Deputy Prime Minister
c/o Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300
THAILAND
Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
E-mail: spokesman@thaigov.go.th

3. Mr. Charnchai Likitjitta
Interim Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
22nd Floor Software Park Building,
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pakkred
Nonthaburi 11120
THAILAND
Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223
Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884
Email: om@moj.go.th

4. Mr. Aree Wongaraya
Interim Minister of Interior
Office of the Ministry of Interior
Atsadang Road
Bangkok 10200
THAILAND
Tel: +662 224-6320/ 6341
Fax: +662 226 4371/ 222 8866
Email: om@moi.go.th

5. Pol. Gen. Seripisuth Themiyavet
Commissioner-General
Royal Thai Police
1st Bldg, 7th Floor
Rama I, Patumwan
Bkk 10330
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 251 5956/ 205 3738/ 255 1975-8
E-mail: feedback@police.go.th

6. Lt. Gen. Viroj Buacharoon
Commander
Fourth Army Area
Sirinthon Camp, Khaotoom
Yarang, Pattani 94160
THAILAND
Tel: +66 73 262 598
Fax: +66 73 262 572

7. Mr. Pranai Suwanarat
Director
Southern Border Province Administrative Center (SBPAC)
Yala Provincial Office
Muang District, Yala 95000
THAILAND
Tel/Fax: +66 073 203 802

8. Mr. Chaikasem Nitisiri
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Lukmuang Building
Nahuppei Road
Prabraromrachawang, Pranakorn
Bangkok 10200
THAILAND
Tel: +662 224 1563/ 222 8121-30
Fax: +662 224 0162/ 1448/ 221 0858
E-mail: ag@ago.go.th or oag@ago.go.th

9. Prof. Saneh Chamarik
Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathum Wan District
Bangkok 10300
THAILAND
Tel: +662 219 2980
Fax: +662 219 2940
E-mail: commission@nhrc.or.th

10. Mr. Homayoun Alizadeh
Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific of OHCHR
UNESCAP
UN Secretariat Building, 6th Fl., Room A-601
Rajdamnern Nok Ave.
Bangkok 10200,
THAILAND
Tel: +662 288 1496
Fax: +662 288 3009

11. Ms. Leila Zerrougui
Chairperson
UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: WORKING GROUP ARBITRARY DETENTION)

12. Mr. Leandro Despouy
Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
Att: Sonia Cronin
Room: 3-060
OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9160
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR INDEPENDENCE JUDGES & LAWYERS)

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID :
UP-145-2007
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.