Thailand: Mirror Foundation head arrested under emergency decree
September 21, 2011, 3:58 pm

Mirror Foundation president and social activist Sombat Boon-ngamanong was arrested yesterday under the emergency decree.

Pol Lt Col Suthin Sappuang, deputy commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s Division 5, led his team to arrest Mr Sombat, also a core red shirt supporter, yesterday. Mr Sombat and 20 of his followers were tying strips of red cloth to a billboard at the Ratchaprasong intersection with the aim of making it a symbol for the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

Police charged him with violating the emergency decree and said his action was a threat to peace. He has been detained at a police camp in Pathum Thani.

A total of 105 social activists signed an open letter calling for Mr Sombat to be freed, claiming his arrest damaged the government’s attempts at reconciliation in the country. They also demanded the government scrap the emergency decree.

Meanwhile, the Mirror Foundation said some people have been falsely reported as missing following the red shirt protests.

Ekalak Lumchomkhae, head of the foundation’s missing persons and anti-human trafficking information project, said about 15 of the reports it received of missing people were false. The foundation had claimed 35 people were reported missing following violent incidents during the protests.

Ninety people were killed in Bangkok and other provinces and more than 1,800 were injured during clashes between authorities and red shirt protesters on April 10, and from May 14 to 19.

Mr Ekalak said the foundation had found about 20 people remain unaccounted for, while the other cases had been filed dishonestly. He said most of the missing person cases were reported by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship members in the Northeast.

The foundation will wind down its work and stop taking on new missing persons cases on Wednesday. Mr Ekalak said the foundation has asked the committee investigating the political turmoil, headed by former attorney-general Kanit na Nakorn, to set up a sub-panel to track down missing people. He said Mr Kanit had agreed to the request, although the panel’s appointment would have to wait until after July 6 when committee members are expected to be named.

Mr Ekalak said Mr Kanit’s panel must conduct an open and fair investigation for the sake of national reconciliation.

Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, a human rights lawyer with the Cross Cultural Foundation, said the government must provide assistance to those affected by political violence without bias.