#SafeinCustody awareness month: Towards a future without torture in Thailand
With lawmakers in Thailand working towards the adoption of an anti-torture Bill, the APT and the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) have launched the #Safe inCustody awareness month, which will run throughout November 2021 in the south-east Asian nation.
The #SafeInCustody awareness month aims to mobilise local artists and civil society organisations in Thailand to develop and share creative narratives that build community support for torture prevention. Activities will include a human rights-themed film festival, along with photography and art exhibitions featuring leading practitioners.
The programme was launched on 4 November at the Alliance Française Thailand, with presentations from Pittikarnn Sittidej, Commissioner with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Pornpen Khongchangkonkiet, CrCF Director, and Barbara Bernath, APT Secretary General. Local artists expressed their hope for respect and cooperation among police and the public to build a torture-free Thailand.
“Torture and enforced disappearance are unacceptable in any circumstances. #SafeinCustody month is a great initiative to promote public awareness through film and the arts,” Commissioner Sittidej said at the launch. She welcomed the approach of using positive messaging and new narratives through art to engage the community in a dialogue on torture prevention.
Ms Bernath shared her belief in the importance of building strong and sustained public support for prevention.
Art is a powerful means to convey these messages in a way that connects both our minds and our hearts. Creativity enables empathy and solidarity.
Barbara Bernath, APT Secretary General
Pornpen added that all the artworks and films showcased through the event aim to enhance public awareness about the importance of fostering change in the system. She said artists from Patani, Bangkok and Chiangmai will utilise their expertise and understanding to create artworks that amplify four key messages connected to torture prevention: Pain and Suffering, Grey Zone, Recovery, and Impunity.
Tosaporn Sererak, a member of the parliamentary special committee on the Anti-Torture Bill, also attended the launch and reiterated the importance of freedom of assembly and expression in enabling social change in Thailand.
The #SafeInCustody awareness month comes at the same time as Thailand’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review (10-12 November 2021) by the UN Human Rights Council. The month-long campaign will feature renowned artists and creative practitioners, including:
- Jehabdulloh Jehsorhoh, an art professor and artist in the southernmost provinces of Thailand
- Thasnai Sethaseree, a professor at Chiangmai University who is well known for his artwork on mistreatment of the authorities
- Yostorn Triyos, a photographer who depicts the daily lives of torture survivors in the deep south
- Tawan Wattuyu, a painter who has produced works inspired by the words of former detainees and family members sharing their experiences of police custody.
In addition, live forums with various experts will be held to explore new perspectives on the issue of torture and torture prevention.
The #SafeInCustody awareness month is part of the project on“Reducing risky practices leading to torture and ill-treatment in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand”, convened by the APT in partnership with leading civil society organisations in the three countries.