AHRC-URGENT APPEAL: Harassment and Threat to Woman Human Rights Defender in Tak Bai

From a press release: THAILAND: Harassment and Threat to Woman Human Rights Defender in Tak Bai

ISSUES: Human rights defenders; Threats and intimidation
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to draw your attention to the harassment and threats faced by Ms. Yaena Salaemae, a long-time Woman Human Rights Defender (WHRD) in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province in southern Thailand. The state authorities used an attack on a police checkpoint near her house to search her house and intimidate her. The AHRC believes that this is an outright attempt to intimidate Ms. Yaena and cause her to cease her work calling for justice in the case of the Tak Bai massacre and other cases of human rights violations in southern Thailand. The Asian Human Rights Commission is particularly concerned about the relationship between the threats to Ms. Yaena Salaemae and the ongoing status of the Tak Bai case, and is concerned that this recent harassment may be an attempt by the state to halt progress on the case.

CASE DETAILS: (According to the information received from the Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF))

At 1.30 p.m. on 19 April 2011, unidentified men dressed in clothing similar to army uniforms robbed a vegetable delivery truck and used that truck to attack a police checkpoint in Paiwan subdistrict on the Narathiwat-Tak Bai Road. The checkpoint is located at Salachuak, Moo 6, Salamai, Tak Bai district, Narathiwat. Although there was some damage to the checkpoint from the bullets used during the attack, there were no injuries.

Three hours later, at 4.30 p.m. on 19 April 2011, approximately 20 armed police and army officers surrounded and searched the house of Ms. Yaena Salaemae in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province. The officers did not present an arrest warrant from the court and only informed Ma. Yaena that they chose to conduct the search based on information from an informant who claimed that Ma. Yaena Salaemae might have been involved in the attack on Paiwan checkpoint. The officers only searched Ms. Yaena’s house – her neighbors’ houses were not searched and they were not questions. No illegal items were found and no suspects were arrested. A record of search confirming this was made and Ms. Yaena signed it. At the conclusion of the search, one of the officers told Ms. Yaena that she should not share information about this incident with Ms. Angkhana Neelaphaijit, chairperson of the Justice for Peace Foundation. By mentioned Ms. Angkhana Neelaphaijit, the state security officials were also indirectly threatening her.

ABOUT MS. YAENA SALAEMAE:

Ms. Yaena Salaemae is a prominent human rights defender in southern Thailand. She has worked closely with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and has joined international human rights meetings organized by Frontline International in Dublin in 2009 and the Asian Human Rights Commission in Kwangju, South Korea in 2010.

In particular, she has consistently worked to end impunity in the case of the 25 October 2004 Tak Bai massacre, in which state officials have not yet been held to account and the victims and families of victims have not yet received justice. On 25 October 2004, approximately 1500 citizens were protesting what they believed was the unjust arrest of six Village Defense Volunteers on charges of allegedly stealing guns from the local armory in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province. Seven civilians were shot and killed during the fighting in front of the Tak Bai police station. At the conclusion of fighting, all remaining protestors were arrested and security forces prepared to transport them to Ingkayuthboriharn Army Camp in neighboring Pattani province, as there was not a facility large enough in Narathiwat to detain 1500 people.

The 1500 protestors were transported the roughly 140 kilometers from Tak Bai district to Inkayuthboriharn Camp in military trucks. There were only twenty-eight trucks available, and so the arrested protestors were handcuffed and then stacked, in four or five horizontal layers in the back of the trucks. An additional 78 people died on the way or shortly after arrival at Inkayuthboriharn. The post-mortem examinations, which were carried out on 26 October 2004, concluded that the causes of death included the following, at times in combination: asphyxiation, pressure on one’s chest, blunt object injuries, and seizures. In May 2009, the Songkhla provincial court ruled that although the 78 people died while in state custody, state officials had not improperly carried out their duties. [See http://thailand.ahrchk.net/takbai/ for more information].

In early 2011, Ms. Yaena led the victims and families of victims to submit a motion urging the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand to file a criminal lawsuit on behalf of the victims for truth and justice in the case of Tak Bai. Technically, this is the duty of the NHRC, but they have not yet taken it up. Since engaging in this action, Ms. Yaena has been interrogated and intimidated by a range of army officers in relation to the potential criminal lawsuit. In addition to this work, she has also assisted Thai PBS in producing a documentary of the Tak Bai massacre.

Ms. Yaena Salaemae does not have any personal disputes with anyone inside or outside the government. In 2007, her husband was assassinated in their village. The assassin is still at-large. She feels as though the current threats to her are related to her role as a human rights activist.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the Thai authorities and request that they cease their intimidation and harassment of Ms. Yaena Salaemae.

To support this appeal, please click here:

Sample Letter:

Dear _________,

Name of the person facing threats: Ms. Yaena Salaemae
Date and place of incident: O19 April 2011 at 1:30pm in her home in in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province
Alleged perpetrators: approximately 20 armed police and army officers

I am deeply disturbed about the news of the harassment, threats, and arbitrary house search of Ms. Yaena Salaemae, a long-time Woman Human Rights Defender (WHRD) in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province in southern Thailand. According to the information that I have received, it appears that the state authorities used an attack on a police checkpoint near her house to search her house and intimidate her. This appears to be an outright attempt to intimidate Ms. Yaena and cause her to cease her work calling for justice in the case of the Tak Bai massacre and other cases of human rights violations in southern Thailand. Particularly concerning, these threats have come after Ms. Yaena urged the National Human Rights Commission to take up the case of the ongoing lack of resolution in the Tak Bai massacre.

I urge you to investigate the logic and justification for the police and army search of Ms. Yaena’s house. No warrant was presented and Ms. Yaena was told that the search was based on information from an informant. While this is technically legal under martial law and the Emergency Decree, for the purposes of protecting citizens and national security, I am concerned that this arbitrary search has had the opposite effect. In this case, the search has created fear and insecurity for Ms. Yaena and her family.

After the conclusion of the search, Ms. Yaena Salaemae was told by the security officers not to tell Ms. Angkhana Neelaphaijit about the search. Ms. Angkhana is the chairperson of the Justice for Peace Foundation and one of Ms. Yaena’s colleagues working to redress human rights violations in southern Thailand.

Finally, I am particularly concerned about the relationship between the threats to Ms. Yaena Salaemae and the ongoing status of the Tak Bai case, and is concerned that this recent harassment may be an attempt by the state to halt progress on the case. I urge you to put the weight of your office both behind the protection of Ms. Yaena and other human rights defenders and in securing accountability in the case of the Tak Bai massacre.

Yours Sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva
Prime Minister
c/o Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 288 4000 ext. 4025
Tel: +66 2 288 4000
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

2. Mr. Chaowarat Chanweerakul
Minister of Interior
Office of the Ministry of Interior
Atsadang Road, Ratchabophit
Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 226 4371/ 222 8866
Tel: +66 2 224 6320/ 6341
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

3. General Prawit Wongsuwan
Minister of De fence
Office of the Ministry of Defence
Sanamchai Road,
Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 225 8262
Tel.: + 66 2 222 3121
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

4. Mr. Peeraphan Saleeratwipak
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
Fax: +662 502 6734 / 6884
Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

5. Pol.Gen. Wichean Potephosree
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: [email protected]

6. Professor Amara Pongsapich
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
Office of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
The Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary 5th December, B.E.2550 (2007), Building B
120 Moo 3, Chaengwattana Road
Thoongsonghong, Laksi
Bangkok 10210
THAILAND
Fax: +662 143 9546, +662 143 9575
Tel: +662 141 3800, +662 141 3900
E-mail: [email protected]

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission ([email protected])

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