Thailand: Widow of Suspected Rebel Seeks Answers for In-Custody Death

151211-TH-widow-620 Kurosamoh Tuwaebersa, the widow of Abdullayi Dorloh, wants a full investigation of his death.

Kurosamoh Tuwaebersa believes that her husband Abdullayi Dorloh, a suspected insurgent from Thailand’s Deep South, was killed while in military custody.

“I am certain he did not die a normal death; that someone caused him to die,” the newly widowed Kurosamoh told BenarNews before a military-requested autopsy was done on her husband’s body earlier this week.

Abdullayi was found dead in a detention cell at the Inkayuth Army Base in Nong Chik district, Pattani province, where he had been held since Nov. 11.

“The thing I need now is to ask all sides to give us justice. I want to ask that a special investigation panel be set up to find out what really happened, a panel that can be trusted,” Kurosamoh said.

The autopsy’s results were inconclusive but revealed no signs of physical trauma in Abdullayi’s death, military officials said.

“From initial questioning, he awoke for morning prayers at 5:30 a.m. After that, officials saw his body on the ground with a copy of the Quran beside him. That’s what we saw,” Inkayuth Camp Deputy Commander Col. Theera Daewa told BenarNews.

Abdullayi was arrested on Nov. 11 in Kolor Tanyong, a sub-district of Nong Chik, by two special operations units.

Authorities suspected that Abdullayi, 42, was a “kompi” unit commander in the region’s long-running armed separatist movement.

Pattani is one of several provinces in Thailand’s predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking southern border region. Since 2004, more than 6,000 people have died in the conflict.

Officials said that Abdullayi confessed to having taken a religious oath to the separatist cause. He also was wanted in connection with the killing of a local Muslim cleric, the Thai website Khaosod English reported.

Under martial law, which is in force in the Deep South, government forces can arrest and detain suspects for up to seven days without a warrant. With an emergency decree in effect in much of the region, suspects can be held for up to 30 days without one.

Abdullayi died during his 23rd day in custody.


The Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 issued a statement announcing Abdullayi’s death and inviting his family, representatives of the Pattani Provincial Islamic Council, NGOs and other groups to view his body.

Despite the Islamic tradition of burying a dead person’s remains as soon as possible, Abdullayi’s 34-year-old widow consented to an autopsy ordered by ISOC at Songklanagarind Hospital in neighboring Songkhla province.

The autopsy’s results were released Tuesday but it did not pinpoint a cause of death.

The autopsy found no sign of physical trauma that could have caused death, ISOC spokesman Col. Pramote Promin told reporters.

A 10-point summary of the initial findings showed a lack of blood clotting that would indicate a heart attack. Pupil dilation was inconsistent with poisoning, though it would take a week for the full analysis of blood samples to be completed, Pramote said.

Tiny bloodstains on Abdullayi’s chest were to be tested for DNA to determine their origin. Those tests take about a month to complete.

Pramote also said there were no physical indications that Abdullayi had been strangled or assaulted, nor did X-ray images reveal any broken bones. Skin abrasions on the left elbow were likely caused by medical staff while they were transporting his body to Songklanagarind Hospital.

Sleep-deprived prisoners

Kurosamoh told BenarNews that she had received the summary from Songklanagarind Hospital.

“The results follow the military’s prediction that he died of natural causes, with no further opinion given,” she said.

Previously, she told BenarNews that her husband was arrested at 3 a.m. on Nov. 11.

“He said someone had turned on him, identified him as a suspect. After that, I went to visit him every day.

“My husband told me ‘I am so tired I can’t take it anymore. I am scared.’ I stretched my arm to open his shirt, but he whisked my hand away.”

She said her husband told her that officials had many documents. “He said they kept trying to get him to sign them, but he would not.”

While her husband did not complain of any direct assault, he said that all detainees were severely deprived of sleep.

“He told me that the officials would call on him late at night for interrogation, with some sessions starting at 1 a.m. and continuing into the following morning. On other days they would start at midnight and last until 10 a.m.,” she said.

“They would never finish. None of the people held there ever got to sleep, he said. They were constantly called on to make statements, answer questions. It was the same for everyone held there,” she added.

Five in-custody deaths since '07

According to the Cross-Cultural Foundation, a non-governmental organization that monitors incidents related to unrest in the region, Abdullayi was the fifth suspect to die while in custody since 2007.

The others were Ashari Sama-ae, who died in July 2007; Yapa Kaseng, who died in April 2008; Sulaiman Naesa, who died by hanging in May 2010; and army Pvt. Wichian Phuaksom, who died in April 2011.

All were Malay Muslims with the exception of Wichian, a 26-year-old conscript and former Buddhist monk who died of injuries after allegedly being beaten for insubordination during a military training exercise in nearby Narathiwat province.

Abdullayi’s case has helped keep a global spotlight on human rights issues in Thailand.

“His relatives came to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, saying that authorities had held him for a long time and requesting an investigation at ISOC 4 to clarify what was going on …,” Thai National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit told BenarNews.

“I see they are forming a fact-finding committee to try to find out what really happened. … Whoever has information or evidence should present it to this panel,” she said.

Angkhana suggested that safety protocols should be implemented to protect the safety of long-term detainees.

“For those in detention more than 20 days, have they had regular health checkups,” she asked.

“When they are in custody, are they continuing to eat or not? If they say they are sick or say they cannot take it anymore, they should have the right to see a doctor – and it should be a doctor they can trust.”


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