Rights activists seek justice after death in Thai army custody

Thailand's military has rejected allegations of torture in the death of a suspected rebel at an army camp.

    Hundreds were in attendance at the funeral of Abdulloh Esormusor on Sunday [Reuters]
    Hundreds were in attendance at the funeral of Abdulloh Esormusor on Sunday [Reuters]

    Human rights activists and relatives have urged the government of Thailand to investigate the death of a suspected rebel who went into a coma after interrogation at an army camp.

    Abdulloh Esormusor, 34, was arrested on July 20 on suspicion of being a separatist rebel and was found unconscious the next day in his cell at the Ingkhayut army base.

    He died on Sunday from severe pneumonia and septic shock, the Songklanagarind Hospital said in a statement.

    Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said on Monday that his death was not caused by the government.

    Abdulloh's funeral on Sunday, which took place in Pattani, one of several Muslim-majority provinces in southern Thailand, was attended by hundreds of people.

    The military said it appointed an inquiry panel to investigate accusations of torture in the case, which has stoked widespread anger.

    190817060220489

    However, Abdulloh's family has voiced doubt over the investigation.

    "There has been no progress in the inquiry so far and we want transparency about what happened," Abdulloh's cousin, Mohammatrahamat Mamu, told Reuters news agency.

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

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

    The armed campaign in the Malay-speaking region of the predominantly Buddhist country has killed some 7,000 people over the past 15 years and has flared on and off for decades.

    Earlier this month, the main separatist rebel group fighting in the south said it met officials from the Thai government and set out conditions for taking part in any peace talks. The government has not confirmed whether the alleged meeting took place.

    Calls to investigate

    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 Germany director of advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW), Wenzel Michalski, took to Twitter calling on the Thai government to "conduct an independent investigation" into the death.

    HRW's Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement it was an "important test case for the government on whether it is willing to address rights violations in military detention".

    "The Thai government has repeatedly pledged to get serious about tackling torture, but it repeatedly fails to do anything about it," Adams said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies