Reeducational programme for suspected insurgents hits the snag?
The Fourth Army Region’s re-educational programme for misguided suspected insurgents appears to have hit the snag after four suspects claimed that they were forced to enter the programme against their will.
The four men in question are Abrik Sahamankud, Zubee Sulong, Mazabtri Kabuding andSapae-ing Waelae. They were arrested by security forces in Thepa and Sabayoi districts of Songkhla province in April last year along with four other men and held in custody by virtue of the emergency decree.
The military claimed that the four suspected insurgents had willingly agreed to enter the re-educational programme made possible by Article 21 of the National Security Act B.E. 2551 to spare “misguided” suspects from prosecution in exchange for re-education in order to turn a new leaf of life. The re-education will take about six months.
The re-educational programme entails a six-stage procedure with the fifth stage requiring a court’s approval for the programme. On last December 14 when the four "misguidedW were due to appear before the court in Nathavee district for an approval of their joining the programme, they told the court they didn’t volunteer to join the programme but were forced to do so by the security forces. They also denied they did anything wrong as charged.
The Foundation of Muslim Lawyers’ Centre which represented the four suspects said that they told the four men to reconsider their testimononies to the court but were instead told that they would not reverse their testimonies and would rather fight their case in the court than entering the programme.
In light of the charges of forced entry to the re-educational programme by the four suspects, the Foundation of Muslim Lawyers’ Centre charged that the programme was flawed and demanded the military to reconsider the programme.
The foundation specifically pointed out one of the conditions of the programme which needs to be rectified. The condition in question requires suspects wishing to enter the programme to make confessions or to give valuable information to the authorities such as information to implicate the other people.
However, the military has denied that the four suspects were forced against their will to enter the programme. They quested if the four in question were forced as claimed why the other four suspects did not join the programme.
They denied there was such a requirement of confessions from the suspects or of valuable information to implicate the other people from the suspects.
The military also claimed that all the procedures related to the re-educational programme had been video-taped to ensure that there were no foul plays against the suspects.
Fourth Army Region commander Lt-Gen Udomchai Thammasaroratch recently told the Isara new agency that Article 21 of the National Security Act was just another option for suspected insurgents.
"Whether they wanted to join the programme or not depended on their decisions. There was no need for the military to force them to join."
He claimed that the programme had been in practice for several months and a number of misguided suspected insurgents had joined the programme without any problems. He suspected that some people might have advised the four suspects in question that they have a better chance to go free if they fight their case in the court rather than spending time under custody to undergo re-education.