August 26, 2019 / 8:08 AM / 22 days ago

Thai military faces questions over death of suspect in southern insurgency

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Rights activists and relatives urged Thailand on Monday to investigate the death of an insurgent suspect who went into a coma after interrogation at an army camp in the southeast Asian nation’s largely Malay-Muslim south.

Mourners attend a funeral of Abdulloh Esormusor, 34, an insurgent suspect who was left in a coma after being interrogated by the Thai security force in Pattani province, southern of Thailand, August 25, 2019. Picture taken August 25, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

Hundreds of people turned out for the funeral of Abdulloh Esormusor, 34, in Pattani, one of three provinces where violence has killed nearly 7,000 people since 2004 as insurgents demand greater autonomy from largely Buddhist Thailand.

The military has said it appointed an inquiry panel to investigate accusations of torture in the case, which has stoked widespread anger, but Abdulloh’s family voiced doubt.

“There has been no progress in the inquiry so far and we want transparency about what happened,” the dead man’s cousin, Mohammatrahamat Mamu, told Reuters.

Abdulloh died on Sunday from severe pneumonia and septic shock, the Songlanagarind hospital where he was being treated said in a statement. He had been found unconscious with fluid on the brain on July 21, following the interrogation.

In a letter to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha this month, the family pleaded for justice and denied that Abdulloh had any links to insurgent groups, Mohammatrahamat added.

The Thai military have rejected allegations of torture and urged the public to wait for the result of the official inquiry.

“We conduct ourselves on the basis that we are all Thai people and we are not out to kill each other,” Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the internal security operations command in southern Thailand, told Reuters.

Opposition parties have said they plan to ask the government to clarify the facts regarding Abdulloh’s cause of death in parliament this week.

The case raised serious issues about rights violations in military detention, an official of New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

“The death of Abdulloh Esormusor is an important test case for the Thai government on whether it is willing and able to address serious rights violations in military detention,” its senior Thai researcher, Sunai Phasuk, told Reuters.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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