Thailand was one of the first countries where the United States placed their secret prison, which officially allowed the use of torture to prisoners. After 20 years, no one from the political and military leadership of the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand has been brought to justice for bullying and humiliating convicts, but the use of torture in Thailand is still practiced.
After the terrorist attacks in September 2001, the United States organized a whole network of institutions outside the United States, where, according to the American authorities, terrorist suspects were held. A distinctive feature of these prisons was that the American government allowed the use of advanced interrogation techniques, which include intentionally causing physical suffering for the suspect. By forcing prisoners to testify, US intelligence officers deprived them of sleep, intimidated and beat them, starved them and subjected them to waterboarding. Despite the fact that in December 2004, the George W. Bush administration publicly condemned torture, secret CIA prisons existed until 2009, and torture practices are still used in Thailand.
The prison in Thailand remained classified until 2014, when the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence published a report, “Studies of the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program,” which detailed the treatment of terrorism suspects in secret locations around the world. According to an official document published by a government agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, which is considered to be the organizer of a network of secret institutions, provided the White House, the US Congress, the US Department of Justice, the American media and the public with invalid information about the methods used against terrorist suspects. After analyzing more than 6 million pages of CIA materials over more than three years, which described in detail the methods used against detainees, the experts came to two main conclusions: the CIA deliberately distorted the data on interrogation methods and exaggerated the effectiveness of these methods. None of the official CIA documents used the word “torture”.
The US government report contains detailed information about a secret Thai prison, interrogation methods used against terrorist suspects. It is reported that the prison in Thailand was created after the arrest of a member of the banned Al-Qaeda organization Abu Zubaydah, who was considered a close assistant to Osama bin Laden and was allegedly involved in the organization of major terrorist acts. The arrest of such a “valuable” suspect forced the American leadership to decide to build a secret prison on the territory of another country, away from human rights organizations and the Red Cross.
Abu Zubaydah was the only prisoner in a Thai prison for most of 2002. He was a guinea pig for American experiments with “advanced interrogation methods”, the question of the humanity and legality of which caused a wide resonance in American society. Trying to force Zubaydah to give out detailed and verifiable information about terrorist operations planned against the United States, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, weapons caches and shelters of all those involved, CIA agents tortured the man almost around the clock for three weeks. On the sixth day of the interrogation, the investigative team informed the agency’s headquarters that they had come to the collective opinion that Abu Zubaydah “probably does not have information about the upcoming attacks on the United States.” To which the Department only stated that they still believe that the suspect is hiding information and called for the use of more advanced interrogation methods.
“More advanced CIA interrogation techniques” included waterboarding, in which a bound person is placed on his back and watered over the mouth and nasal openings. According to a memo from then-Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Rizzo, who served as the CIA’s general counsel, Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded about 83 times. Prison staff later testified that “throughout the trial Abu Zubaydah was asked questions about the upcoming attacks against the United States, but he continued to claim that he had no information that he could provide.” Later, the suspect was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he is being held to this day.
A total of 10 CIA prisoners were arrested or detained in Thailand, and then, without due process of law were transferred to the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay. Cooperation with American authorities marked an era of impunity and lawlessness for Thai law enforcement agencies for Thailand. According to a number of Asian human rights activists, the Thai army and police are still using extremely radical methods to fight Muslim separatists and other dissidents.
According to Sunai Phasuk, a civil rights researcher from Bangkok, “the CIA’s secret prison is an everyday reality in Thailand.” He claims that literally every week there is information about new tortures by Thai law enforcement agencies, and the methods and means resemble those used by Americans at the beginning of the century. According to the expert, until 2004, waterboarding in Thailand was not even heard of, but now this type of torture is used quite regularly.
Since the establishment of the Thai secret prison, there has not been a single investigation into Thai and US officials involved in secret CIA detentions. Successive Thai governments have denied the existence of a secret prison. Even after Washington published an official report on intelligence activities abroad, senior Thai officials continued to assert that the Kingdom would never allow “the United States to detain or torture terrorist suspects on its territory.”
The human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice are convinced that the use of torture is not permissible regardless of who these tortures are used against, and the fact of intentional infliction of physical or moral suffering is a serious crime that has no statute of limitations. Given the specifics of the publication by the Americans of data on their war crimes, official information about the number of prisoners in a Thai prison may not reflect the real facts. The number of prisoners could be much larger, and the torture against them could be much more sophisticated and inhumane, as reported in the reports of American intelligence agencies. The Foundation to Battle Injustice believes that political and military leaders involved in the organization of secret torture prisons should be prosecuted and brought before a military tribunal.