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Charged January 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 March 2007

January 2007

 

Content

 

1. News Summary of December. 1

2. Stop increased militarization! 2

3. Reconciliation in action, not words! 3

4. Protect 8 ustaz and 5 students released on bail! 4

5. Support families of disappeared! 4

6. Investigate the Somchai case! 5

7. Lift the Emergency Decree! 5

 

1. News Summary of December

Ø      Army Commander Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said during a visit to Pattani province that the re-establishment of an independent Pattani state will never be allowed. An intelligence source based in the deep South said separatist groups were planning to form a clandestine government of what they called the “Islamic Pattani State”. The source said core separatist leaders were summoned to meet overseas network representatives in a village in Malaysia’s northeastern state of Kelantan to choose key members of the clandestine government.

Ø      The Pattani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) issued a statement condemning the violence against civilians in the southern region.

Ø      Six young Muslims from Cambodia were arrested which sparked worries by the authorities while keeping a close eye on rising numbers of Cambodian Muslims heading to the strife-torn South.

Ø      Since the violence erupted in 2004, 60 teachers have been killed by rebel groups.

Ø      Al-Jazeera television news reported al-Qaeda’s regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah had infiltrated the border provinces. Quoting a rebel leader, they also said southern insurgents were younger and less willing to compromise than their older counterparts.

Ø      Monks resumed making their morning alms rounds which they suspended last month for fear of insurgent attacks.

Ø      A two-day stand-off between authorities and some 200 Muslim villagers in Pattani’s Yarang district ended peacefully after police agreed to release an Islamic religious teacher on condition he would be available for further questioning.

Ø      More than 20 school torching took place in the South in the last 3 months.

Ø      The chairman of the NHRC said about 150 treason suspects had sought assistance after being imprisoned for two years without proper charges being laid.

Ø      Around three hundred Buddhists gathered to protest against the authorities’ decision to release a number of Muslim detainees after demands by Muslim villagers.

Ø      More than 250 Buddhist villagers who fled their homes to take refuge in a nearby Buddhist temple demanded that the government move them to a safer location and pay for their expenses or they would protest in Bangkok.

Ø      The Justice Ministry agreed to support the adoption of the arbitration system commonly used in the

Civil Court
in settling security disputes in the Criminal Court. A legal amendment is also planned to increase the authority of judicial datohs, or Muslim clerics, in handling family and inheritance disputes involving Muslims in the South.

Ø      The cabinet agreed to provide tax breaks in the four southernmost provinces to try to reverse stagnating investment. Corporate income tax will be cut from 30% to 3%, while business revenues of individuals will be exempt from tax.

Ø      The rate of women dying in childbirth in the three southernmost provinces was the highest in Thailand with a rate of 9 out of 100 even exceeding Ethiopia.

Ø      Phranai Suwannarat, director of the SPBAC, said the 163 million baht allocated to the SPBAC was too small for the task of combating the southern insurgency. The SPBAC had hoped for at least 300 million baht.

2. Stop increased militarization!

The appearance by the interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to promote a nonviolent approach towards solving the conflict in the South is being overshadowed by several alarming developments which are unquestionably pointing towards increased militarization in the southern region. One of these developments is the planned expansion and strengthening of the Internal Security Operations Command headed by Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin. Gen Sonthi discussed the possibility of establishing provincial and district level sub-units of ISOC with a new structure modeled on the US Homeland Security Department. This new structure would make policing agencies and other quasi-independent investigative bodies such as the Department of Special Investigation under the justice ministry subservient to the military. Along with the restructuring of ISOC, a drastic increase of ranger units within the region is planned. There are currently nine companies of paratroopers stationed in the region but 10 more companies will be deployed in January with twenty more following in April. In taking a ‘softer approach’ to fighting the violence in the South, the army is also dispatching 10 companies of women paramilitary rangers. Moreover, the government allocated the armed forces Bt 115 billion, 50% more from last year’s budget.

Another highly distressing development is the increased arming of civilians, including teachers. Teachers will be given weapons to defend themselves against attacks and will be accompanied by security personnel. Also the number of village defense volunteers will be increased to five volunteers per village. PULO has been accusing Thai security units of assisting village defense volunteers to kill local Muslim residents and a group of 20 Muslims entered Malaysia to seek political asylum after claiming their lives were in danger having to endure harassment by army officials. Security officials launched fierce operations, including raids on several villages, to hunt for suspected militants. The government’s focus on hunting down the spoilers of the peace process undermines any attempts at reconciliation as human rights violations continue unabated.

3. Reconciliation in action, not words!

During an interview with the Malaysian branch of Al Jazeera English channel, PM Surayud Chulanont reiterated the need to end social injustice in the South. He affirmed that the performance of the SPBAC will be appraised three months after its inception and the new charter will emphasize power decentralization and ways to strengthen local administrative organizations. However, conciliatory statements have not been met by legal or administrative action of any kind against state officers responsible for gross abuses and injustices. Speaking to senior journalists at Government House, PM Surayud said that the government might find it difficult to take legal action against some suspected perpetrators of injustice due to possible “covering up” of evidence. Referring to cases such as Somchai Neelaphaijit’s disappearance as well as the massacres of Krue Se and Tak Bai, he proclaimed that without evidence the government could not take legal action. The newly revived SPBAC responsible for addressing justice issues in the South has been marred with financial and personnel shortages. Although the conciliatory approach towards the South is a welcome step in the right direction, the government now has to proof its sincerity by taking action fulfilling its promises to the residents in the South.   

 

4. Protect 8 ustaz and 5 students released on bail!

The criminal court temporarily released the 8 ustaz from Dhammawithaya school and the 5 students standing trial charged with being members of the insurgency movement. (please see October issue of Charged for details on these cases) Bail was set at 500,000 baht each due to the severity of their charges. They were freed after Fourth Army Chief Viroj Buacharoon and two other high-ranking officials wrote to the court in a bid to help with the peace process. As they are being considered separatists, they are now being convinced to work for the government to persuade insurgents to partake in a dialogue. Moreover, the defendants were portrayed as dangerous and a threat to society in Thai media. Although releasing the defendants on bail is a welcome move, concerns for their safety have risen as a result, especially considering that 6 witnesses have already been killed since the trial started. As the cases are handled by the Department of Special Investigation and the Crime Suppression Unit, the trial was moved to Bangkok. This is posing a burden to the defendants and their families as they have to remain in Bangkok to attend trial.

5. Support families of disappeared!

The Working Group on Justice for Peace in collaboration with the Asian Federation against Disappearances organized a three day rehabilitation session for the family members of disappeared. The aim of the session was to understand the experience of trauma and grief for disappearance victims and learn how to manage it effectively. For many, it was the first time to meet others who have suffered the same fate. For all, it was the first time they were able to speak freely and share their experience and feelings, although some of them felt reluctant to speak out in front of their village headman who had brought them to the session. In the end, they formed a network and promised each other support and encouragement in their quest for justice. The families are very poor and have little resources to organize. They also receive little support from their community as no one wants to get involved with disappearance victims. They continue to be threatened and intimidated as a result of their activities. One of the women reported that someone is knocking at her door every night around two in the morning. The WGJP vowed to support the network of families organizing meetings to sustain the momentum and to facilitate the exchange of information and messages between the families until they can do it themselves. All the participants expressed their relief by the end of the session.

Some of the family members had received financial assistance under a scheme set up during the Thaksin administration assisting families affected by the violence in the south. However, that scheme was not finalized and rather inadequate. Some of the families do not have a source of income as employers are reluctant to hire them due to their history and they do not have the capital to start a small business on their own. Hence, pressure is needed on the government to first of all investigate the cases, then to prosecute the perpetrators and finally to pay adequate compensation to the families for their loss. In the meantime, AFAD will disperse small scholarships to the children of disappeared in the South to help them continue their schooling. The scholarships will go to the families that were earlier reported to the UNWorking Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. 

6. Investigate the Somchai case!

Despite the fact that a new director was appointed to the Department of Special Investigation, no progress has been made regarding the investigation of the disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit. Angkhana Neelaphaijit has been calling on the government to postpone the arrest of other suspects until strong evidence is brought against them. The new director intends to change the investigation team responsible for this case.

The bones that were found from a rubbish dump in Ratchaburi province were DNA tested and Dr. Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunant confirmed that there were not the bones of Somchai. However, it was confirmed that they were human and further investigation is imperative to determine whose bones they are and how they got there.  

7. Lift the Emergency Decree! 

The emergency decree was once again extended on January 20 for another three months. The emergency decree was passed in July 2005 by the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and must be extended every three months to remain in effect. It includes provisions that allow government officials to order house arrests; ban gatherings, publications and movement; search without a warrant; arrest and detain persons without charge; and deny them access to lawyers. Also, government agents are exempt from prosecution for any acts committed under the decree.

 

8. Contact Us

This newsletter is published by:

 

Nonviolence International Southeast Asia

104/20 Ladprao 124, Wangtonglang

Bangkok, Thailand, 10310

t/f: +66 (0) 2934-3289

www.nonviolenceinternational.net/seasia

 

This publication is part of our Reclaiming Rights program and intends to inform the general public about current news and issues regarding the conflict in the South of Thailand.  Compiling news from the mainstream media as well as research findings and reports by our staff and network, this newsletter provides a means to monitor and document human rights violations. We will regularly report on national security trials against insurgency suspects, disappearance cases and digressions from rule of law. In addition, the newsletter will include efforts undertaken by several sectors of society to end the violence through peaceful means as well as success stories and upcoming events. We hope that the information contained in this newsletter will be used in advocacy to respect human rights and to use nonviolent means to resolve the conflict. 

 

Please feel free to send us your comments and suggestions. If you would like any information to be included in the next newsletter, especially regarding upcoming events, send it to our e-mail, , and we will be happy to include it. Through this newsletter, we hope to provide a channel and encouragement for all concerned to participate in the process of exchanging and disseminating relevant information regarding the conflict. The newsletter will also be available on our website: www.nonviolenceinternational.net/seasia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 31 August 2007 )
 
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