Thailand: Deep South Students Claim Government Conducted Arbitrary Arrests

BenarNews staff
Bangkok and Pattani
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161025-TH-permas-620.jpg Military officials in Narathiwat question two men arrested in connection with alleged bomb plots in the Bangkok area, Oct. 18, 2016.

The leader of a Deep South student group said he sought help from the United Nations following the alleged arbitrary arrest and detention of Muslim students in security sweeps in and around Bangkok earlier this month.

Asmadee Bueheng, secretary-general of the Federation of Patanian Students and Youth (PERMAS), said he had submitted a letter to the office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Bangkok, asking it to help ensure that the Thai government provides detainees with fair treatment.

“We are concerned that the arrests of Muslim youths were not in line with the framework of laws,” he told reporters at the OHCHR office on Monday.

He said that from Oct. 10 to 12, Thai officials arrested as many as 105 people from the area of Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok, but released only 44 names of detainees to the public.

The security sweeps followed a warning from the government that it had obtained intelligence about potential bomb plots to occur at the end of October within the greater metropolitan area.

Police were not immediately available on Tuesday to comment on the number of individuals arrested and an official at OHCHR did not reply to questions from BenarNews about the PERMAS letter.

On Oct. 18, however, a spokesman for the Thai junta – also known as the National Council for Peace and Order – said five men were detained for questioning related to security in the three southern border provinces. The men were not students, he said.

The five were among 14 people “invited” for questioning after a search of the Ramkhamhaeng area, Col. Winthai Suwaree told the Bangkok Post.

Students from the Deep South told media at the time that 44 people had been arrested during searches of student living quarters by police and soldiers.

“They threw smoke bombs into the rooms, used rude language and put guns to the students’ heads to force them to lie down. Several were injured and assets in the room were damaged,” Sulhan Beeing, chairman of the Students of Southern Border Provinces group, told the Bangkok Post.

Transferred to Pattani

Angkhana Neelapaijit, a national human rights commissioner, told BenarNews that the five people arrested in Bangkok were being held for questioning under martial law at Inkayuth Borihan Fort, a military installation in Pattani province.

Families of the five were allowed to visit them at the Military Circle 11 detention facility in Bangkok on Oct. 17, she said.

“The NCPO allowed relatives to visit the five detainees. The southern administration body granted aid to the poor relatives from the Deep South to make a visit on Oct. 17. And on Oct. 18, five of them were transferred to Pattani,” Angkhana told BenarNews by phone.

Angkhana said the total number of arrests could not be confirmed.

On Oct. 18, Col. Wichan Sarikapan, commander of the 49th Ranger Regiment, named the five men arrested in Bangkok as Talmesee Totayong, Mufadeen Salae, Amri Ha, Nurman Abu and Uzman Kadenghaji.

Two other suspected would-be bombers – Abdulbazir Suekaji and Mubaree Kana – were arrested from Narathiawat’s Srisakhon district after the five detainees implicated them as associates. The military took DNA samples from the two and sent them to Ingkayuth Borihan Fort, he said.

Pornpen Khongkachonkiet of Cross-Cultural Foundation said she was concerned about the arrests.

“What we want to know is whether officials have arrest warrants? What offenses were the suspected students arrested for? The officials said they are gathering information and chose to apply special law (martial law) but such special judicial methods do not respect human rights of detainees and suspects in criminal cases,” she told BenarNews by phone.

Pornpen is one of three human rights activists charged with criminal defamation over a report that alleged systematic torture of suspected insurgents in Thai military and police custody.

Col. Pramote Prom-in, a spokesman for the military in the Deep South, told BenarNews on Tuesday that PERMAS and certain NGOs were slandering officials for doing their job in enforcing the law.

“You can maneuver however you want under the framework of rights and freedom. But that must not go beyond the framework of the constitution and must not violate laws. If you break laws, with either violent means or non-violent means, we must enforce the rules,” he said.


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