Thailand: Deep South Activist Says Group Wrongly Linked to Koh Samui Probe

By Nasueroh
2015.04.20
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150420-TH-suhaimi-620 Suhaimi Dulasa (left) meets with staff at a lawyer foundation in Yala, April 20, 2015.
BenarNews

A student activist from Thailand’s insurgency-hit Deep South says a Thai newspaper wrongly tied him and his organization to an investigation into a recent bombing on the island resort of Koh Samui.

“I’m in the process of considering a lawsuit against Thai Rath,” Suhaimi Dulasa, president of the Federation of Students in the Deep South (PERMAS), told BenarNews on Monday, referring to an article published Friday in the country’s biggest Thai-language paper.

The Thai Rath said security forces were investigating a series of meetings PERMAS held on the island prior to the bombing. It cited an anonymous source from Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4, the Thai military command with responsibility for the Deep South.

"Members of the PERMAS, led by Suhaimi, on several occasions travelled to Samui island to hold meetings to perform ‘unclassified’ activities at a Muslim community on the resort island. The security forces are investigating the meeting agenda [to determine] whether they have a connection to the bomb attack," the article said.

Suhaimi, who vehemently denies the report, on Monday went to the Yala province offices of the Muslim Attorney Council (MAC), a legal aid group, to consult with its lawyers about possibly suing Thai Rath for libel.

“I’ve never been to Koh Samui or that community,” Suhaimi said. “To say I had such meetings took place is a wrong accusation.”

A reporter for Thai Rath could not be reached for comment Monday night.

More arrests reported

Col. Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the forward office of ISOC, told reporters that neither ISOC Region 4 or the Bangkok-based ISOC ever implicated Suhaimi.

“In daily meetings at ISOC Region 4, we have never addressed that PERMAS had a hand in the bomb attack,” Pramote said.

“I confirmed that Gen. Udomdej Sitabutr, the Army commander-in-chief and the deputy minister for defense, and Lt. Gen. Prakarn Cholayuth, have never mentioned such incidents, and I believe the opinion was of one individual and it has nothing to do with the ISOC 4 and the parent ISOC,” he added.

On April 10, a car-bomb explosion in a parking lot at a shopping mall on Koh Samui injured seven people.

The Nation newspaper reported Monday that a 33-year-old teacher from Pattani province – one of the provinces in the Deep South – was among two more suspects arrested in connection with the bombing.

Their arrests bring to five the number of people taken into custody by police in Surat Thani province. The other three are security guards who worked at the mall.

The Nation also quoted police as saying that they were trying to find three other vehicles involved in the bombing, but these were now believed to be somewhere in the Deep South.

Since 2004, more than 6,000 people have died in a separatist insurgency in Thailand’s predominantly Muslim far southern region.

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan said that insurgents from the Deep South did not carry out the bombing.

“It was not the work of the insurgents from the Deep South. It was not the expansion of the activities by the insurgency from the Deep South,” he told reporters at Government House in Bangkok.

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