Thai junta allows ‘culture of torture’ to flourish


Officials in Thailand on Wednesday prevented Amnesty International from publicly presenting a report that accuses the ruling military junta of torture and abuse, the group said. Minutes before the briefing was scheduled to start at a hotel in Bangkok, plainclothes police officers warned that two employees of the group would breach Thai labor law if they spoke publicly, The New York Times reports:

The report documented 74 cases of alleged torture or “ill treatment” by the Thai military or police, including beating, burning, strangling, suffocation, waterboarding and electric shock. It said the violence had occurred at military bases, at police stations and at detention facilities, both official and unofficial.

“Empowered by laws of their own making, Thailand’s military rulers have allowed a culture of torture to flourish, where there is no accountability for the perpetrators and no justice for the victims,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Academics see Thailand as having entered a period of ‘semi-democracy,’ as the military presses ahead with reforms ranging from education to police and justice to anti-corruption. In the recent poll, voters backed the military’s extended influence in the selection of the next prime minister, VOA reports:

Pandit Chanrochanakit, a lecturer in government at Chulalongkorn University, said the government’s tight rein on debate has stifled the country’s political culture.

“It’s very hard to imagine the future scenario of Thai politics. But I would characterize the future situation of the ‘post-Prayut government as semi-democratic with no civil society, Pandit said.

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