Response to Thai Ambassador to Japan, who objected to Ahjan Pavin’s article “Dhaveevatthana prison: hell on Earth”

Dear Ambassador Sansarn Bunnag,

In a letter to the Japan Times, you accused Pavin Chachavalpongpun of making unsubstantiated claims when he reported that there is a Temporary Prison on the grounds of the Daveevattana [Thavi Wattana] Palace of Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn, a prison which inmates describe as “Hell on Earth.” The prison is real, and our organization had already translated the public documents authorizing this prison into English and paired it with a Google Earth map, so both Thai- and English-speaking people can know the shocking facts. You can see evidence here at our website.

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights has been concerned about this prison since we learned of its existence at the beginning of March, after Jumpol Manmai disappeared for several weeks after displeasing the King. His family could not reach him and feared he was dead. When he reappeared in court, it was announced he would be taken back to ‘Provisional Prison of Bhuddha Monthol, Thavi Wattana district,” leading to the discovery of the authorization for a prison by this name at the king’s residence.

So the prison exists. The only remaining mystery is what all goes on there. Having a secret prison that cannot be visited by the public, at the home of a king who is above the law, is a recipe for rampant human rights abuses, including enforced disappearance, torture, and even murder. It is feared that the suspicious deaths of Moh Yong, police Maj. Prakrom Warunprapha, and Maj. Gen. Phisitsak Seniwongse na Ayutthaya, while in custody (we now learn at this very prison) were in fact extrajudicial executions.

If the rumors of rampant human rights abuses are false, you can put them to rest by inviting an international human rights organization such as Amnesty International to visit the temporary prison. If they are true, I’m sure you will agree it is time to close this shadowy prison and take away Vajiralongkorn’s power to persecute people on a whim.

Ambassador, you said in your letter that Thailand respects freedom of opinion and expression, but this is blatantly false. In fact, Thailand’s barbaric lese majesty law forbids anyone from reporting anything negative about this king, even if it is indisputably true and a matter of grave importance. Only flattering information about the King can be reported. As you well know, Professor Pavin has been exiled from Thailand simply for doing his job as a political scientist. And beyond that Professor Pavin’s family still living in Thailand has been harassed to in an attempt to stop him from doing his job.

If only Thailand did have free speech, ongoing human rights abuses could be brought to light and future abuses prevented.

Finally, as long as Thailand’s King behaves with such brazen cruelty towards anyone who gets in his way, no one inside or outside of Thailand, needs to respect him.

Ann Norman
Executive Director of the Thai Alliance for Human Rights

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