Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sexual Abuse in Thai Prisons

If accounts of sexual abuse offend you then you’d be well advised to disregard this blog. I must also add that whilst this report focuses upon sex practices as a ‘power game’ in the men’s prison, I have no doubt whatsoever that incidents in the women’s prison are far, far worse.

Equally, and for the record, my personal belief is that adults are free to engage in any consensual indulgence that they want in private. The operative words being: adult, consensual and private. Who am I to say that others should conform to my heterosexual ‘norms’.

Thailand, as a country, has managed to blur sexual identity, So much so that a third sex- The katoey, or lady-boy – clamours for official recognition in both public affairs and sporting events. Generally, a katoey (pronounced ka-toy-ee) is a male who has had some or all of their primary sexual characteristics – penis, breasts, surgically modified so that they appear as females. The degree of augmentation mostly is confined to breasts.

A small, but significant, percentage of Thailand’s 350,000 inmate population are katoey. As they are obviously highly noticeable in a male-only conglomerate, although they tend to be very aggressive, they aren’t usually a problem here in the Hilton. They do sell their sexual favours, but as it is on a purely voluntary basis, no one is coerced to have sex with them.

Bring, ostensibly, a male (and katoey) only environment, as one rightly suspects, homosexuality is rife, In this respect, like any other prison regime with long-term sentences, and the average in Thailand is 25 years for all types of offences, same sex partnerships are the only viable means of mutual sexual gratifications. Nevertheless, any form of sexual release, whether ‘sold’ or with partner, is prohibited and in Building 2, by order of the building chief screw Bunlom Conwichet, punished by public degradation.

This prohibition though does not apply to the screws reporting to Conwichet. They are free and I stress encouraged, to rape any of the inmate occupants in the building. This ‘courtesy’ extends to the kapos (trustee inmates).

When a screw or a kapo rapes an inmate, sexual gratification is a secondary objective. The prime purpose is to reinforce the status held by those assigned over us. Whereas in the general homosexual community the ‘pleasures’ are mutual and are achieved in private, rapes of inmates by the screws and kapos are usually public displays. Further, these rapes involve the inmate being anally penetrated by the screw/kapo, or alternatively the inmate is forced to fellate the rapist. In some instances the victim is compelled to clean the aggressor’s flaccid penis orally, post penetration.

For the screws and kapos to subjugate Thai’s isn’t considered a forceful display of domination. To really drive the lesson that the screws and kapos can do with us as they consider fit, acts of buggery and fellatio with a non-Thai as the victim enforces the exercise.

Until recently – that is since the early part of 2009 when screw Sangpol Thongnoal transferred to D2 from Building 3 – rapes of non-Thais were relatively infrequent. Mostly, when Conwichet decided that a public display of power was called for, it was left to the kapos to shock us into submission. Since Thongnoal’s arrival however these demonstrations have increased in frequency and Thongnoal has usually been the principal participant.

Such is the degradation experienced by the victim that suicide after the rape results. Thongnoal has refined the torture by announcing the name of the intended rape victim days beforehand. Whilst the Thai’s stoically submit to being raped by Thongnoal and then contemplate suicide, the non-Thai victims prefer to attempt suicide before they are raped by him.

One such non-Thai victim was a Laotian inmate, who, some 3 months ago, was targeted by Thongnoal as neither having the money to pay off Thongnoal, nor (very understandably) having the ‘Sang froid’ to endure being gang-banged publically by the screw and 2 of the Kapos. One of the 2 Kapos involved has now been identified to me as ‘Yoot’, the building chief’s own ‘minder’. Rather than submit to the impending multiple public rape the individual instead elected to cut his own throat privately behind the back of the, now defunct, D2 bakery.

As inferred, Thais have been the usual rape victims. However as a display of power it serves to add a little to the perceived dread all inmates are required to have with regards to both the screws and Kapos, such as Yoot.

It should also be remembered that Thai’s also have easily accessible families, hostages to fortune if you will and the screws make it very plain that any and all protests about them will assuredly result in punishment being meted out forcefully on their families. Similar threats are continually made to non-Thais (myself included) with families resident in Thailand. However the real kudos for sadists such as Thongnoal comes from sexually abusing non-Thais who are – if not sufficiently cowed – in a position to lodge a formal protest.

In order of ranking, kudos is derived from victimising: Thais; then Burmese, Laotians, Cambodians, Malayan’s and Vietnamese; after which are Singaporeans, Taiwanese, Nepalese and Koreans. Next are the Japanese, Chinese and those inmates from Hong Kong. The less likely to be abused are the Caucasians and the ‘Nigerians’ a generic term encompassing all black Africans. The reasons for these 2 groups being less susceptible to abuse is that we are far more likely to either protest to our embassies, or in the case of British Nationals who have no other resort, react violently.

Sexually abusing the easier targets soon paled for Thongnoal and he determined that amongst the screws and kapos he could better establish himself as the ‘hard man’ of D2 by abusing and intimidating the next level of non-Thais, his ultimate aim being to victimize Farangs and Nigerians.

The next group Thongnoal decided to terrorize was the Singaporeans, his principal target seeming to be a 50 year old man of my acquaintance. In the past I’ve been highly critical of this gentleman, but his tenacity over handling Thongnoals attempt to rape him has been exemplary. In my mind, he has redeemed himself.

Thongnoals modus operandi is to first thoroughly cow his victims before raping them. His reasoning presumably is that they’ve become suitably aware of just how unpleasant – in a relatively minor way - he can make his intended target’s life. When it comes time to finally dominate the victim, sheer hell is unleashed, so much so that any thought of resistance is impossible. That the victim may well commit suicide, and the case of the Laotian serves as a good example, only serves to enhance Thongnoals reputation.

Initially Thongnoal confines himself, in the case of a non-Thai, to only insisting on complete subservience from his prey. As per the prison rules, all inmates must show deference and respect to the screws and often the kapos as well. Failure to do so is punished by 3 months solitary in D10, the punishment building. Very often those in solitary confinement are shackled as well.

Showing deference to perceived superiors is natural in Thai society. This doesn’t present them with any difficulties. For non –Thais though it’s a different matter, and is a source of considerable contention amongst the non-Thais. Kow-Towing to inferiors is not how we usually conduct ourselves unless our spirits have been broken. In its simplest form, showing respect entails bowing one’s head so that it is lower than the screws whenever in their presence. In the extreme, and the screws can demand this, it entails prostrating oneself in the presence of the screw. Thongnoal always demands this extreme.

After a few days of prostration on demand, Thongnoal then starts to subject his victim to spot searches. Initially these are simple ‘pat down’ searches, but soon they progress to increasingly more humiliating indignities leading ultimately to the full on, strip naked, bend down and touch the toes, anal cavity style searches perfected in the remand centres such as Bombat. Whereas in Bombat these types of searches were only usually conducted fortnightly, Thongnoal conducts these exceedingly intrusive, painful and humiliating searches several times a day when he’s present in D2.

A note here is that Bunlom Conwichet, the D2 building chief, knows and sanctions this type of search.

Once the victim has become inured to this level of degradation, Thongnoal increases the pressure. It could be said that he tires easily from inflicting routine humiliation and pushes hard to bolster his belief in his own superiority over us inmates. As debasing as the searches are for the victims, the sexual gratification becomes the only means left by which he can establish himself as the ‘hardest’ screw in D2.

The Singaporean I mentioned above is an intelligent man. He could readily see that anal assaults were imminent and that was a degradation he had no intention of enduring. Fortunately for him he has an Embassy that does provide some protection for its nationals. He duly wrote to his Embassy and strongly complained that he feared that he was targeted as a rape victim by Thongnoal. None of us had any doubts that the Singaporean Embassy would react, but none of us were expecting the ‘force’ that the embassy would put behind its protest.

Usually when complaints are made to the Embassies both the consular officials and senior prison staff try to hush up the protest and the matter rarely gets as far as to instigating a formal inquiry by the prison authorities. In the extremely rare event that an inquiry is held though, you can rest assured that it always results in a cover up. In the case of the British Embassy, the complainant would have been in far more jeopardy of being buggered by screws and kapos had they had the temerity to protest in writing. This is something I can personally attest to from my days on remand in Bombat.

As a cover up this case proved to be no exception. Nevertheless, the Singaporean gentleman’s written protest did have a very positive, well as positive as the Singaporeans in the Hilton could have hoped for, outcome. Both Thongnoal and building chief screw, Bunlom Conwichet, were advised by the 3 man investigating team of screws from the Thai Department of Correction, that the Singaporeans did apparently have some ‘clout’ and consequently it would be better all round if the Singaporeans were not targeted in particular.

Of course a xenophobic sadistic pervert such as Thongnoal craves gratification and a quiet ‘word to the wise’ only meant that his focus has to be re-sighted onto another ethnic group. A chance conversation with a gay Dutch inmate has left me in no doubt that Thongnoal has quickly chosen his next victim. But that’s another blog entry.

Be well and Be Happy

Dr Gary Jones

Friday, 9 October 2009

What's in a Name?

Most readers of this blog probably have never heard of the name of the one-time major pharmaceutical company named Distillers. We aren’t on-line here in the Hilton so I don’t know if one of the 20th Century’s biggest medical disaster perpetrators – Distillers, manufacturers of Thalidomide – are still in business. The names Distillers and Thalidomide cause members of the 50s and 60s generation to shudder in horror.

On a side issue, that the Directors of Distillers weren’t publically lynched, a-la Saddam Hussain, is a good reason I embraced Atheism during my formative years. Despite my Atheistic beliefs, I still have belief in an overall “Goodness” encapsulated within the human psyche. Perhaps, just perhaps Distillers and its board of Directors festered and withered away in well deserved putrefaction. Please let me know if Google returns a current balance sheet on them or not.

As said though, my overall faith in human nature – outside of Thailand naturally – is strong, so I will gamble for this blog, that Distillers has been deservedly expunged from the Corporate Rolls. Nevertheless, expunged or not, Distillers is a proper noun that start-up companies shun. Some form of Racial Corporate Memory?

Certainly in Western culture Proper Nouns applied to people, places and events, subconsciously and automatically I add, assume a ready association that is impossible to shift. Even the passage of millennia fails to eradicate the taint. Would a play entitled Brutus and Juliet evoke the necessary connotations? No, no more than had Shakespeare named his play of innocent, but tragic love, Lothario and Juliette. Are there Parents willing to name their offspring: Adolf, Genghis, Idi, Judas, Et Al? Do any of the Arnold family name their offspring Benedict?

Whereas personal Proper Nouns fall easily into disuse once a slur has been cast upon them, this is not so with Geographic names. Take Siam for example.

Siam was once the traditional name of a part of Indo-China bracketed by Burma, Malaysia Cambodia and Laos. Strategically placed for the Axis Forces during World War II, a vital piece of real estate, its location provided an incalculably indispensable launch pad for a Japan with colonial pretensions.

Whereas other bordering countries valiantly resisted the Japanese incursion, realising that allowing any foothold to the Nippon’s in the region was a pre-cursor marking their own collapse and inevitable domination by the invader, Thailand readily laid back, opened its legs – via the Gulf of Siam – and welcomed the ingress of Hirohito’s imperial rapists. British held Malaya, as was Malaysia at that time, was speedily plundered and Fortress Singapore was quickly breached. Siam’s treachery contributed extensively to the Japanese War Machine.

The outcome of World War II is well known, Japan, Germany and the Axis allies were humiliated. Those losers who had participated and ended somewhat honourably mainly through the tenaciousness bravery of the common troops in battle – were readily forgiven. Not so those who had willingly collaborated with Hitler’s and Hirohito’s evil captains. Whereas there was some justifiable bloodletting in North Western Europe amongst pockets of “Les Collaborateurs”, overall the occupied colonies were mainly supporters of the Allied effort. Siam, by contrast, embraced the Nipponese cause en-masse! The spineless Siamese were too busy enjoying a good rogering by Japan to so much as field a division of elephants in support of their Nippon overlords, let alone field a troop of Maquis.

Like Distillers and Thalidomide, the name Siam stank of despicability at the end of World War II. Not that its neighbours in South East Asia didn’t complain of the stench long before the end of World War II.

Humans endure for just a brief time whereas geographical locations abide for aeons. Within the post World War II world order the name Siam was well and truly knackered. No easy solution you may think. Indeed it was a dilemma. Very rapidly the name Siam was becoming synonymies with cowardly treachery well beyond the confines of South East Asia, so much so that some 15 years later when Hollywood’s Walt Disney wanted to portray treachery, corruption and arse-licking deviousness even he assigned the role 2 Siamese cats in the cartoon 101 Dalmations.

An expedient solution had to be found. Change the name of the region. Siam became Thailand. But, as they say, a Rose by another name still becomes replete with thorns. Siams moral pygmyism isn’t located within its soil, it’s part of the fabric of the Siamese DNA. As has been proved before, changing the name of a country does squat and slowly the rest of the world is coming to realise that, as with Siam, Thailand doesn’t play well with others.

For myself, I become increasingly convinced that an excellent synonym for Thailand is Thalidomide. What do you think?


Sunday, 4 October 2009

Executions have restarted in Bang Kwang Prison

It has recently been reported that Thailand has restarted executions of Death Row prisoners. The two that were executed were friends of mine that lived with me here in the same building. The two men Bundit Charoenwanich, 45, and Jirawat Phumpruek, 52, were taken in the night and only given 60 minutes to write their last wills and have a one minute phone call to their families before being executed by lethal injection. This was the first executions carried out by Thailand since 2003.

As prisoners, some of us were aware that the lethal injections had been delivered to Bang Kwang prison, but it seems that the decision to execute both men from D2 building was the sole decision of Natee Jitsawang, the Director-General of the Department of Corrections. It was not, so it seems, the decision of the Thai Government, a fact also reported by the BBC World Service.

Now that the prisoners have been shown that executions can happen at any time “Life Insurance” is now being paid to the Building Chief, Bunlom Conwichet by most of the 24 names listed below. This is a bribe paid so that the poor unfortunates names are not next on the list for the lethal injection. The bribe is anywhere from 1000Baht to 5000Bhat per month (between GBP18 and GBP100) depending on the perceived wealth and nationality of the person on Death Row.

This is probably true in other buildings as well, but it is very difficult to find out any news. The screws make it virtually impossible to communicate between buildings and Death Row inmates are not allowed to attend the Mosque on Fridays, or any other day come to that. They are also not allowed to leave Death Row to pray at the Monday Buddhist sessions.

Some will say that these men all deserve what is coming to them as they are Drug dealers and therefore deserve to die. There are many reasons that this is wrong but we can leave it to the official Thai figures quoted by the Head of the Thai Supreme Court, Pramarn Dongsue, that 30% of the inmates are in fact innocent of the crimes they have been convicted for. One third. Surely even the most rabid supporters of the death penalty have to recognise that 6 – 8 of those on the following list will be murdered and not executed.

It should also be remembered that all on Death Row are permanently shackled with the shackles welded on. Once the sentence has been carried out it is far easier to remove the poor unfortunates’ feet than to try to cut the shackles to remove them.

The following is a list of the men currently on Death Row in D2 Building in Bang Kwang Prison.

Kamjan Ananta (Thai) Drug
Sevan Mahamonthol (Thai) Drug
Chart Vatcharanugosnvisith (Thai) Drug
Manop Janthima (Thai) Drug
Anan Temusak (Thai) Drug
Janthib Panya (Thai)
Dit Manamethavee (Thai) Drug
Chor-Kor-Por-Moo X (Myanmar) Drug
Suphong Laoviriyathanachai (Thai)
Ayo Ayi X (Chinese?) Drug
Laokee Saelao (Thai) Drug 10 yrs on DR
Proyong Kweaparb (Thai) Drug
Somchai Voy-Yue (Thai) Drug
Supachai Kajaejan (Thai) Drug
Sarapad Thamsongsrisan (Thai)
Sawat Vichiwong X (Shan State) Drug
Sanan Sornpetch (Thai) Drug
Tuon Siriporn (Thai)
Ijob X (Shan State) Drug
Lapho X (Myanmar) Drug
Arthong Kaekai X (Myanmar) Drug
Saknarin Mahamonthol (Thai) drug
SSWichian Saejang (Thai) Drug
Khan Namthong (Thai)
X indicates full name not known.

Please think about them and if appropriate, pray for them