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Thailand: Harassment and intimidation of human rights defender Ms Yaena Salaemae
On 19 April 2011 the home of human rights defender Ms Yaena Salaemae was surrounded and searched by police and army officers in the Tak Bai District in Southern Thailand. Yaena Salaemae is a leading human rights defender in the Tak Bai District and is particularly active in calling for justice and accountability regarding the 2004 Tak Bai massacre during which seven protestors were shot dead and seventy-eight others died of suffocation and injuries following their arrest. Yaena Salaemae was a participant at Front Line's 2010 Fifth Dublin Platform.
Further InformationOn 19 April, at around 4:30pm, approximately 20 armed police and army officers reportedly surrounded and searched the home of Yaena Salaemae in the Tak Bai district of the Narathiwat province in Southern Thailand.The officers did not produce an arrest warrant but informed Yaena Salaemae that they were conducting a search on her house based on information that they had received which suggested that she may have been linked to an attack on a nearby police checkpoint which had occurred approximately three hours previously.
During said attack unidentified men dressed in clothes resembling army uniforms allegedly stole a vegetable delivery truck and used it to attack the police checkpoint. A formal record of the search was made and Yaena Salaemae signed this document. No other homes in the vicinity of Yaena Salaemae's were searched and nor were her neighbours questioned. The police found no illegal items during the search of Yaena Salaemae's home and no arrests were carried out.
It is reported that when they had finished searching the house one of the officers told Yaena Salaemae that she was not to report the incident to Ms Angkhana Neelaphaijit, human rights defender and Chairperson of the Justice for Peace Foundation.
In early 2011, Yaena Salaemae led the victims and families of the victims of the Tak Bai massacre to submit a motion urging the National Human Rights Council of Thailand (NHRC) to file a criminal lawsuit on behalf of the victims in the case. Officially, this is the duty on the NHRC but they have not yet taken up the case. It is reported that since becoming involved in this case Yaena Salaemae has been intimidated and interrogated by various officials in relation to the criminal lawsuit. She has also helped the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to produce a documentary on the Tak Bai massacre.
Front Line believes that the search of Yaena Salaemae's home is directly related to her peaceful and legitimate work in the defense of human rights, and in particular constitutes an attempt to silence the human rights defender and intimidate her into ceasing her work relating the investigation of the Tak Bai massacre.