Attacks on prisoners by outside forces, on 16th and 17th May 2012
Searches were made throughout Bangkwang prison in Nonthabure, on the evenings of 16th and 17th May. Bangkwang prison is located in Nonthaburi, where those serving sentences over 30 years are held, and those condemned to death. Reports told of beatings “without apparent reason” carried out by a special masked unit.
The first attack on prisoners was made by a group of blue uniformed persons wearing caps, identified by the prisoners as ‘police’. In the floor on which our informant was detained there were about 20 prisoners, the floor consisted of 24 such rooms of facing cells. At first they heard sounds of beating, shouts, and screams. The assailants moved from room to room, apparently carrying out beatings on every floor of every building. They carried batons and numbered from fifty to a hundred or more. Prisoners were made to squat on the floor while searches were carried out. Apart from the blue clad ‘police’, there were ‘officials’ wearing white tea shirts, possibly military or corrections department officials, and a special masked squad dressed in black. Attacks on prisoners appeared to be random; they reported that one prisoner, a Thai citizen, had been beaten to death, and another seriously injured, with a cracked skull, when telephones were found in their bed area. Our informant was kicked on the legs as he crouched on the ground. In another building an informant told us that the prisoners were warned in advance by their own warders to hide telephones, which they did by attaching them behind fans. Prisoners remarked that if the search had been made by warders themselves these phones would have easily been discovered. His account of the beatings corresponded to that of a prisoner in a separate building for prisoners condemned to death. Beatings carried out by masked assailants lasted about 90 minutes. A police man stood at the door of each cell while the occupants were being beaten. On one occasion a regular prison guard was heard calling for a doctor to come. On the following morning he observed two prisoners showing extensive wounds on their backs.
In one account the prisoners were addressed the following morning by a recently appointed prison governor, warning them that news of the previous night’s events were not to spread outside the prison. However, warders advised prisoners to tell their relatives during visits and called on them to make complaints. It was clear that regular prison staff were against these beatings by outside forces.
Reports in the Thai press report other “visits” by such a mysterious unit in Nakhon Sri Thammarat prison. Authorities claimed the events were to eliminate mobile telephones and drugs from the prison. They admitted that prisoners were out of control of permanent staff who feared retaliation to themselves and their families by outside contacts of prisoners who had discovered their identities and domiciles.
From Bom Bak Phiset prison
An account of similar beatings has been received from prisoners in Bam Bak prison in both Thai and English versions. The following is the verbatim English version.
“Our Complaint to Foreign Embassies and to the Correctional Department
On 9th May 2012 Thai correctional officers conducted a raid on Building 9 of Bom Bak prison looking for “illegal belongings”.
This search was completely different from all previous searches carried out by the relevant authorities.
These officers used extreme violence and brutality and threatening behaviour. They repeatedly hit, punched and kicked vulnerable inmates who were all passive. Hundreds of victims required hospital treatment after the cowardly assaults.
These actions are illegal under existing Thai law. This leads to the question of why are high ranking Thai government officials ordering such illegal and horrific orders.
Therefore the foreign prisoners of building 9 urgently request that our embassies are informed of the truth about the illegal incidents so that necessary steps can be taken to ensure their safety.
Thanking you for these considerations
Foreign nationalities from building 9
Bom Bat Piset”
The statement was signed by 95 foreign prisoners from 17 different countries. Doubtless Thai prisoners were afraid to sign.
Note: All prisons in Thailand are chronically overcrowded and understaffed. It appears impossible for prison authorities to prevent prisoners accessing mobile phones, drugs, and gambling paraphernalia. Recently all gifts of food or other material brought by visitors have been banned so that smuggling by corrupt officials is the only conduit. A mobile phone inside the prison sells for ten times the outside price. Drugs appear to be readily available.
The populations of the prisons mentioned above are:
Bangkwang; 4008 prisoners
Nakorn Sri Thammarat; 3,202 prisoners
Bombot Prison; 3912 prisoners
Department of Statistics 1st April 2012