Friday, June 5, 2020

Thai whistleblowers beware

"The Empire strikes back." Human Rights Watch reports that a Thai army whistleblower is facing retaliation for having complained about official corruption. Excerpt:
Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi filed several complaints on the hotline in April about alleged corruption involving staff allowances at the Army Ordnance Materiel Rebuild Center, where he worked as a clerk. Not only did he see no action taken on his complaints, he received death threats and faced a disciplinary inquiry for allegedly undermining unity within the army and damaging his unit’s reputation. Leaked video footage from the inquiry showed Sgt. Narongchai’s superior telling him that, “You may be able to get away this time, but there is no next time for you. … Reporting this and that will only get you in trouble.”

Fearing for his safety, Sgt. Narongchai fled his barracks and sought protection from the parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs, Justice, and Human Rights. He also publicized his plight by sharing information with the media, arguing that other ways of disclosing wrongdoing had proved ineffective. But those steps have not stopped the army from going after him.

While denying allegations about mistreatment of Sgt. Narongchai, the army sought a military court warrant to arrest him for being absent from his duties for more than 15 days. Sgt. Narongchai faces up to seven years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

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