In Nakhon Phanom Province on April 17, two brothers — 33-year-old Yutthana Saisa and 29-year-old Natthapong Saisa — were taken into custody by a group of military men.
In a secluded hut, the brothers were put into two different rooms and interrogated over drug-related allegations.
Yutthana would later die in the hospital from physical injuries. Natthapong survived.
Their parents have filed a complaint with local police.
On April 20, at Yutthana’s funeral, a military representative came to pay respect on behalf of the military and offered the family 10,000 baht. The military representative also offered further assistance and requested that the military have one night to host the funeral ceremony.
Human Rights Watch has called for a “prompt” and “impartial” investigation into the case of the two brothers.
The tragedy is an example of the military’s culture of impunity, according to Paul Chambers, a lecturer at Center for ASEAN Community Studies, Naresuan University.
He’s also a co-editor of Khaki Capital: The Political Economy of the Military in Southeast Asia.
Chambers explained that the military has always had a leading role in the Thai society, staging coups that ousted many governments from power since 1932.
“Such a political culture has led to three developments,” he said.
“First, a total lack of military accountability. Second, a total lack of military transparency. And third, complete military impunity to civilian redress of grievances against the military.”
Chambers added, “It will keep happening in the future until Thailand develops coup-resistant civilian control over the military, judges actively prosecute and put in jail abusive soldiers, and civilians stand united against military transgressions.”
But because the military often rules politics, civilians are vulnerable to mistreatment.
On July 24, 2015, General Prayut Chan-ocha, as head of the National Peace and Order Council (NCPO), issued an order which gives the military broad powers to conduct a search or arrest of people accused of drug-related offenses, without a warrant.
The order also allows the military to detain people for interrogation up to three days before handing them over to the police.
However, the order states nothing about allowing the military to use violence against civilians.
While the NCPO is no more, the government has not yet revoked this order.