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Lawyer and shaman duo demand police investigate Kanchanaburi temple rehab that allegedly tortured patients



PHOTO: Myles Chuter/Flickr

Following yesterday’s news that a temple in Kanchanaburi, a western Thai province, that served as drug rehab and was allegedly abusing patients, including feeding them usually only once a day, forcing them to live in squalid conditions and torturing them; a lawyer and a shaman have requested the Crime Suppression Division police investigate and prosecute those responsible for the alleged torture and assorted abuses of human rights that took place.

The shaman, Jeeraphan Phetkhao, and the lawyer, Paisarn Ruangrit spearheaded 10 representatives for over 200 men who were freed by soldiers from the Wat Tha Phu Rat Bamrung’s drug rehabilitation facility. The duo filed a complaint with the CSD. In total, 216 men were freed from the rehab and dropped off at a field hospital on Monday night.

Jeeraphan says the living conditions at the rehab were deplorable and adds that the centre was closer to hell on earth than an establishment that helps people recover from drug addiction. The shaman and the lawyer inspected the rehab centre with reporters on Monday. The Kanchanaburi governor, Jeerakiart Phumsawat, went to the temple rehab following a call from Jeeraphan who updated him on the rehab’s situation.

Jeeraphan adds that he had previously filed a police report with the Dan Makhamtia police station but says the officers seemed uninterested in pursuing the case. He says he felt “unsafe”, so he turned to the CSD for help. He then live-streamed the rescue operation on his Facebook. The video depicted hundreds of people living in a cramped, locked room that had 2 bathrooms for over 200 people. He believes the situation is the result of an organised gang made up of police, temple and rescue workers.

“It’s unusual that police from Kalasin and Roi Et provinces took so many people involved in illicit drugs to this temple for rehabilitation. From some villages, 10 or more people were sent there”.

Paisarn the lawyer concurs with Jeeraphan’s assessment that the rehab was the work of an organised gang. He says what he saw at the temple was similar to human trafficking: The gang’s first step was getting people and taking them to the temple. After that, they demanded money from the patients and tortured and beat them as they saw fit. The lawyer says 2 to 3 people died while they were “in treatment”, but no autopsies were conducted.

Not all of the patients were drug addicts. Paisarn says some of the patients were people who had been charged with non-drug-related charges such as fighting or physical assault. The lawyer says the parents of these “patients” were told that charges would be dropped if their offspring stayed at the rehab centre for 1 year, provided the parents paid all the requisite fees.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Jack is from the USA, has a B.A. in English, and writes on a variety of topics. He lives in Thailand.

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