Military intimidates human rights defender in Deep South

The military has intimidated a human rights defender in the restive Deep South, ordering her not to post comments on Facebook about human rights violations.

On 1 July 2017, six men believed to be military officers in plainclothes visited the shop of the family of Anchana Heemmina, president of Duay Jai, a local human rights advocacy group in the Deep South, according to the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF).

The men claimed to be from Internal Security Operation Command Region 4 (ISOC) and said their superior ordered them to visit her because of her recent Facebook posts about a woman whose husband had been arrested and held in custody at the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp in Nong Chik District of Pattani Province as an insurgency suspect.

The woman, who requested to remain anonymous, is nine months pregnant and told Anchana that it was very difficult for her to get permission to visit her husband while he was detained, adding that according to prison rules she was allowed 30 minutes visiting time, but the soldiers allowed her much less without any reason.

Anchana recorded the information and posted it on her Facebook account on 29 June 2017.

During the visit, which lasted for about one hour, the soldiers claimed that Facebook posts like that could cause damage to the reputation of the military and prohibited Anchana from commenting about the complaint, about the fact that ISOC has not yet withdrawn charges against the three human rights defenders, including Anchana herself, even though ISOC promised to do so, and about the alleged abduction of Daho Ma-taworn.

They added that she should inform the military before posting any such comment online.

The CrCF issued a public statement against the intimidation of Anchana.

“It is simply an exercise of basic civil right to monitor the accountability of the government agencies and the freedom of expression which is protected by Section 34 of the 2017 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” reads the CrCF statement.

The authorities should stop intimidating human rights defenders and drop legal actions against them, added the CrCF.

Anchana Heemmina, nicknamed Mumtaz, aged 43, has been repeatedly visited and summoned by the military since 2016.

She is one of the activists responsible for compiling a report on torture and other inhumane acts in the Deep South in 2014-2015.

The report, written in collaboration with the Patani Human Rights Network and the CrCF, collected information from over 50 victims. The report details the inhumane practices against those detained under martial law.

Soldiers from Internal Security Operation Command Region 4 visiting Anchana on 1 July 2017 (Photo from Anchana’s Facebook page)


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