Human rights committee investigates Pattani activists’ dress code penalty

Picture courtesy of The Active

The Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC) Region 4’s decision to penalise activists for wearing Malay traditional dress at an event in Pattani in 2022 came under scrutiny yesterday as the Committee on Legal Affairs, Justice, and Human Rights vowed to investigate a complaint lodged against this action.

Kamolsak Leewamoh, the committee chairman, affirmed that a thorough questioning session involving all concerned parties would be initiated following the receipt of the complaint.

The complaint was filed by Areepen Utarasin, adviser to the House Speaker, and Muk Sulaiman, the speaker’s secretary, against ISOC Region 4’s move to issue warrants for the nine activists. They both wore Malay national dress, the same as the targeted activists had worn when they submitted their complaint, in a clear display of solidarity.

The clothing in question was worn by the targeted activists and many of the other 15,000 participants during the Melayu Raya 2022 celebrations. This community event, held in Pattani province, was designed by and for young Malay/Muslims in Thailand’s Deep South, reported Bangkok Post.

According to Areepen, the event, organised by the Civil Society Assembly for Peace (CAP), took place at Wasukree Beach in Sai Buri district on May 4, 2022. Wearing a Malay dress was one of the activities aimed at preserving local culture and offering a platform for young people to represent their identity.

He further stated that the organiser had consulted with ISOC Region 4 before the event and had been given permission to wear such costumes.

Despite the initial agreement, the organiser was contacted post-event by ISOC Region 4 and Sai Buri Police Station, accused of incitation and criminal association. However, due to insufficient evidence, the charges were suspended.

On January 5, the nine activists were served with warrants from ISOC Region 4 for the same two charges. Areepen called for the withdrawal of these charges, arguing they infringed on people’s right to wear their traditional clothing.

In response, ISOC Region 4 stated the warrants were issued due to the activists’ involvement in activities promoting separatism and displaying a flag of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu-Patani (BRN) separatist movement.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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