Candle vigil attendants arrested, allegedly beaten brutally by police

2 people arrested during a candle vigil for a dead protester at Din Daeng Police Station revealed that their 9 hours in police custody involved beatings and death threats.

Auttasit and his wounds.

Auttasit Nussa, an engineer, was arrested on 29 October as people went to the police station to hold a candle vigil for Warit Somnoi, a youth shot by an unidentified party in front of the police station on the night of 16 August.

"I had not even joined the activity. I went to front of the police station to light a vigil candle.  They (the police) had already come to disperse the gathering. They told me to run. I didn't understand why. They grabbed me and accused me of burning a shrine and related to the man who shot the policeman [on the evening of 6 October].”

Then he and another protester were taken inside the police station where he was subjected to beatings in an effort to obtain information that he said he did not know. The police reportedly told him that if he died during the beatings, they would make his death look like an accident. 

"A police officer senior to the others said 'Let me have him. I want this one.' Then he started the beating, asking me if I knew the shooter. I said I didn’t but he kept on hitting me.”

"They beat me a lot. They kicked me.  They punched me. They smacked my head into a wooden chair. They use a baton on to hit the ribs on my right  side. Then, they choked me to get my phone password... I told them but it was wrong.  I couldn’t remember. They squeezed my neck so hard that I almost fainted."

He was released on 02.30.  Afterwards, he was subject to normal investigation procedures and charged with participating in a gathering and causing public disorder.

"I feel they didn't act professionally. They used force. Their duty is to arrest and investigate but they used force to intimidate me.  It should not be like this.  It is a structural problem in their system that cannot be allowed to go on," said Auttasit.

In addition to Auttasit, 'Leaf', another participant in the event was also arrested and beaten. Earlier in October, he was charged with royal defamation for painting the message ‘we should reform the monarchy.’

Leaf and his wounds.

Leaf said he was taken to a solitary room and stripped down to his pants. Interrogators stomped on his genitals and stubbed out cigarettes on his lower stomach.

"It was very bad. I had to brace myself all the time because I didn't know when they were going to hit me again," said Leaf, who was eventually charged like Auttasit.

On 1 November, We Volunteer, a group of protest guards, went to parliament to submit a petition asking the House Committee on Law, Justice, and Human Rights to investigate the two cases of police brutality.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), a civil organisation which looks at arbitrary detention and torture issues, published a statement demanding a serious investigation of the incidents at the Din Daeng Police Station and a speedy passage of the anti-torture bill which will criminalise such actions by state authorities.

Auttasit filed a complaint at the Din Daeng Police Station, where the beatings took place. Leaf plans to do so.

On 2 November, Pol Lt Col Sophon, Yaemchomcheun, the Din Daeng Police Station deputy superintendent said to Prachatai that further evidences related to the beating are need to me collected. He said he did not know about the situation as he was investigating another case in a separate room.

“Frankly speaking, I think I’m not sure to confirm that much. But what is for sure is that the mob use violence, especially cursing…There was some people kicked the police,”

“You have to look at that point too. They ran to us too…If the gathering was really peaceful, nothing would happen. But you come and use violence, burning, speaking aggressively,” said Sophon.

Since 2007, Prachatai English has been covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite the risk and pressure from the law and the authorities. However, with only 2 full-time reporters and increasing annual operating costs, keeping our work going is a challenge. Your support will ensure we stay a professional media source and be able to expand our team to meet the challenges and deliver timely and in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”