Human rights campaigners condemned the fatal torture of a conscript at a military base in Surat Thani, while the Army admitted some commanders lack discipline and became too angry when punishing subordinates.
Pictures of conscript Private Yuthinan Boonniam, who was hospitalised with a swollen face and bruises, were widely shared on social media, as this year’s annual military draft proceeded.
Angkhana Neelapaijit, commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), pointed out that this was not the first case of torture resulting in death at a military training camp, while urging the Army to stop using harsh punishment and respect draftees’ human rights.
Offering her condolences to the victim’s family, she said, “As it is a duty for Thai men to serve as conscripts to serve their country, the Army also has a duty to take good care of them and respect their human rights.”
She said torture and harsh punishment in military camps were nothing new, as the NHRC had earlier considered the case of Private Wichian Phuaksom, who was tortured to death at a training camp in Narathiwat in 2011.
“We have asked the Army to stop violent punishment and torture. Moreover, the Army has to properly compensate the family of the victim too,” she said.
Preeda Nakpiew, a lawyer from the Cross Cultural Foundation, said his organisation had assisted in legal battles regarding at least three similar cases, including those of Wichian and Private Songtham Mudmad, who was beaten to death at a military base in Yala last year.
“It is totally illegal to torture anyone, even if they are subordinates in the Army. Our organisation is trying hard to campaign on the inspection of exercise of power inside military bases, but so far our efforts have not been fruitful,” Preeda said.
Maj-General Wichai Thassan-amontian, commander of the Military Circle 45, ordered the two soldiers allegedly involved in the torture of Private Yuthinan, which led to his death, to be removed from their posts at Military Circle 45 to facilitate further investigation.
Wichai also ordered the setting up of a committee to investigate the death of Private Yuthinan.
Meanwhile, Royal Thai Army spokesperson Colonel Winthai Suvaree said Saturday’s incident was caused by commanders who did not control their emotions.
It has been reported that the number of conscriptions is slowly increasing every year.
This year there was a need for 103,097 draftees compared to 101,307 in 2016 and 99,373 in 2015. -ANN
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