Despite the proliferation of journalistic and academic analyses of the ongoing conflict in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and the four districts of Songkhla, there is one group whose experiences have been missing from the ever-increasing public discussion: national security detainees and their families. A new resource addresses this gap.
Under martial law and emergency decree, thousands of people have been arrested. Martial law permits detention for seven days before charges need to be brought against someone being held suspected of threatening national security, and the emergency decree adds another thirty days before charges need to be brought against a suspected individual. The International Crisis Group notes that during the first seven days, detainees are often held in temporary sites of detention and cannot see family members or other visitors during the first ten days of detention, which means that the risk of torture is greatest during this period. Detainees do not have access to lawyers during the initial 37-day period of detention. Some of those arrested have been extralegally detained, re-educated, and (often relatively rapidly) released without ever passing through a court and others have been officially charged with crimes of national security under the Criminal Code. For those who become national security detainees, an additional eighty-four days of detention are possible before they must be officially charged with a crime. National security cases move very slowly through the judicial system, with months of detention possible between court hearings.
Yet there is little that can protect the families of national security detainees who are arbitrarily arrested and then held for long periods of time before their cases come to trial. Even if national security detainees are ultimately found innocent, as many have been, years of suffering may come first. In a recent book, р╕нр╕▓р╣Ар╕вр╕нр╕░ р╕Др╕╖р╕нр╕Щр╕н р╕нр╕╡р╕Жр╕░ “р╕Юр╣Ир╕нр╕Цр╕╣р╕Бр╕Ир╕▒р╕Ъ”: р╕Ър╕Щр╣Ар╕кр╣Йр╕Щр╕Чр╕▓р╕Зр╕Др╕зр╕▓р╕бр╕вр╕╕р╕Хр╕┤р╕Шр╕гр╕гр╕бр╕Вр╕нр╕Зр╕Др╕гр╕нр╕Ър╕Др╕гр╕▒р╕зр╕Ьр╕╣р╣Йр╕Хр╣Йр╕нр╕Зр╕Вр╕▒р╕Зр╕Др╕Фр╕╡р╕Др╕зр╕▓р╕бр╕бр╕▒р╣Ир╕Щр╕Др╕З р╕Ир╕▒р╕Зр╕лр╕зр╕▒р╕Фр╕Кр╕▓р╕вр╣Бр╕Фр╕Щр╕ар╕▓р╕Др╣Гр╕Хр╣Й /Ayah di Tangkap (My Father Was Arrested): Justice Path for Detainees’ Families in the Contest of Counter-Insurgency, Southern Thailand, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and their network partners elaborate the struggles faced by the families of national security detainees. There are currently more than 400 national security detainees and CrCF spoke with 218 families, including 278 people under the age of eighteen. Many families experience economic hardship once the primary breadwinner is gone. As many national security detainees are taken to places of detention far from home, the distance and travel cost makes it difficult for their families to visit. Spouses and children wonder if their partners and parents are ever going to return home. Children no longer want to go to school once word has spread that their fathers have been imprisoned as a national security detainee.
The Thai and English versions of the book are both available in PDF form from the Voice from Thais blog.