For immediate release on 20 September 20177
Ven. Phra Maha Apichat Punnachantho
must be immediately released from custody,
Arbitrary detention can exacerbate conflict situations
It has been reported that Ven. Phra Maha Apichat Punnachantho has been taken from a temple in Ranode District, Songkhla during day time. He was reportedly taken to Sena Narong Military Camp in Hat Yai District, Songkhla on 19 September 2017 and subsequently to the Crime Suppression Division, the Royal Thai Police. He is reportedly being held in custody at the CSD in Bangkok, though it is not very clear about his whereabouts. The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) is therefore concerned about the treatment by the officials in this case based on the following grounds;
- The venerable monk has been taken to and held in custody in an undisclosed place which could be construed as an act of arbitrary detention. Regardless of the reasons for holding the monk in custody, the act could constitute a violation of human rights. Also, it could be an infringement on the rules and time-honored traditions with regard to the treatment of a highly revered Buddhist monk.
- Even though the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) does not agree with the act of a religious person or a religious leader belonging to whatsoever religions who tends to harbor aggressive views which may harbor conflicts and a lack of mutual trust among religious persons, but the act of the authorities and the exercise of power toward a religious person should be carried out with sensitivity. This is particularly important in a conflict prone situation and given religious sensitivity, Any act has to be carried out with utmost carefulness and transparency and the arresting authorities must be able to offer an explanation for such act. Otherwise such act, instead of helping to solve the problems, would exacerbate the situation.
The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and the undersigned organizations and individuals demand the following;
- Ven. Phra Maha Apichat Punnachantho must be released from custody immediately.
- The acts of officials involved with the taking into custody of the venerable monk must be subjected to a thorough investigation by the government and concerned agencies in order to examine the reasons behind such act. Such investigation should shed light on the legal provisions that have been invoked to carry out the arrest and custody, the legitimacy of such act, and its purposes. This would ensure transparency and understanding in public, particularly among religious persons and the supporters of Ven. Phra Maha Apichat Punnachantho.
- Any crackdown on an act or an expression of opinion deemed to cause social division should be carried out in a transparent manner and within the bound of the law and human rights and nonviolence principles. An emphasis should be placed on nurturing the understanding about the sensitive issues in the Southern Border Provinces, at the national level, the ASEAN level and the international level.
The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and the undersigned organizations and individuals fervently hope that concerned authorities would make their most careful and well thought out endeavor to put to rest the sensitive problems. We reiterate that only through nonviolence, peace and harmony can be brought to all parties.
Names of individuals and organizations;
- Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)
- Duay Jai Group, Songkhla
- Ajahn Abdulsuko Din-a, Chariyatham Suksa School, Chana District, Songkhla
- Mr. Rakchat Suwan, Yala
- Fah Sai Child’s Health for the Southern Border Province Youth Association,
For more information, please contact please contact Mr. Surapong Kongchantuk, CrCF’s Chairperson, phone 081 6424006 Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, CrCF’s Dorector 0639751797