Junta denies torturing red-shirt activist Kritsuda, insists her happiness was real

 
A junta spokesman on Sunday denied the allegations by red-shirt activist Kritsuda Khunasen that the military tortured her during her illegal detention and forced her to lie on TV that she was happy, insisting that her happiness was real, according to Matichon Online. 
 
Col Winthai Suvaree, spokesman for the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said he was “surprised” by what the red-shirt activist said during an interview with Jom Petchpradab, a veteran independent journalist, published on YouTube and released on Saturday. She said she has fled Thailand to Europe and is now seeking asylum there.
 
In should be noted that the story of her interview on Prachatai English (.org) has been blocked by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology since 4 pm on Sunday. However, readers can access it here.
 
In late June, Kritsuda was the focus of media and human rights organizations because during her detention, no one was able to contact her and it was not known where she was detained. After rumours that she was tortured, Kritsuda appeared on a special TV programme with the military junta spokesman and said she was “happier than words can say”. However, in the later interview, she said she was tortured and forced to say nice things about her stay in the military camp. Under martial law, now in force across the country, the authorities may detain individuals only as long as is necessary and for no longer than 7 days. The length of Kritsuda’s detention -- more than 20 days -- therefore made it illegal.
 
Winthai said the authorities have always treated all detainees by respecting human rights and with politeness. All of the junta’s actions and decisions were reasonable. He asked how the authorities could do something which contradicts public sentiment especially on sensitive issues. 
 
During her detention, the Colonel said, Kritsuda was very cooperative. Because the information the authorities received from her is very helpful, she was worried and felt unsafe because of repercussions from giving helpful information to the authorities.
 
After human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, issued a statement calling for the junta to release Kritsuda and provide information on her whereabouts, the junta spokesman told media on 21 June that the activist wanted to extend her stay in the camp because it helped her “meditate.” At that time, the junta refused to disclose her whereabouts because, it claimed, she wanted to “meditate without any distractions from the outside world.”
 
After human rights organizations, such as the Human Rights Watch, issued statement calling for the junta to release Kritsuda and information on her wherabout, the junta spokesman told media on 21 June that the activist wanted to extend her stay in the camp because it helped her “meditate.” At that time, the junta refused to disclose her wearable because, it claimed she wanted to “meditate without any distractions from the outside world.”
 
After rumours spread on the Internet that Kritsuda was killed, the junta put her on a special TV programme on the Army’s Channel 5. She appeared with the NCPO spokesman and said she was treated very well and was  “happier than words can say” during her detention. 
 
Kritsuda (R) and her boy friend (L), who was also detained smile, and laugh on TV
 
The spokesman pointed out that during her appearance on TV, she did not pretend to be happy because, as can be seen on the programme, her smile was natural and her eyes looked bright and lively. Her face showed that she was not forced to be happy.
 
Kritsuda, therefore, falsely accused the Army, giving unfounded information to the public to discredit the NCPO, said Winthai.
 
He suspected that Kritsuda has “changed” after she met the same kind of people who used to be around her, who are now hiding abroad, or she may have changed her mind after calculating the risk of being charged against threats from people who are affected by the information she gave to the authorities. 
 
He added she should not have worried about the risk of being implicated because the authorities have given her a promise [not to pursue the cases against her.]
 
Kritsuda was detained by the military on 27 May at the house of her boss, Mananchaya Ketkaew, aka "May E.U.," in eastern Chonburi province. 
 
Mananchaya is a low-profile red-shirt figure who represents pro-Thaksin “Red E.U.” of the red shirts in Europe. The group’s main activity is to give financial assistance to red shirt political prisoners, victims of political violence, and fund tuition fees for children of red-shirt supporters. Under Mananchaya, Kritsuda reached out to many red-shirt political prisoners, most of them arrested after the 2010 crackdown. There has been a rumour that the group is financially supported by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
 
Read related news: Kritsuda reveals military tortured her to link Thaksin to hard-core red shirts