In early 2010, BP blogged repeatedly on GT200 “bomb detectors” and other similar devices purchased by the Thai army and other government agencies. The GT200 device is a black plastic box with an antenna sticking out which was hawked to the Thai military and other agencies along with a few plastic cards for up to 1,000,000 baht a pop by the British firm Global Technical. See this post for more details. In July, fraud charges were then brought against the UK seller of the GT200.
Human rights activists say more than 400 people have been locked up — some for up to two years — on the basis of spurious evidence gleaned by the device, which is at the centre of a British fraud probe.
“I was playing football at my school when someone shot at soldiers nearby,” said Hassan, who was held for 29 days without charge over the 2008 incident in Yala province — a hot-bed of violence.
“The soldiers entered the school looking for the gunman. They lined us up and used the GT200. The antenna pointed to me… and they took me away,” he added, asking for his identity to be withheld because he fears reprisals for speaking out over his detention.
The Thai army refutes accusations of arbitrary detentions based on the faulty device.
“We found real evidence — guns, weapons, grenades — that’s why we arrested them,” Colonel Pramote Promin, deputy spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command said, addressing the wider issue of detentions.
“It might be a hallucination but we found (weapons) many times. It might be a fluke or coincidence that it worked,” he said, adding that the effectiveness could be “something above science”.
BP: Grenades is one thing, but for those with only guns one hopes the authorities found actual evidence linking them to the insurgency. Merely having a gun seems pretty thin given the level of the violence and the obvious human instinctive of self-preservation which just encourages people to get a gun for self-protection. Otherwise, it becomes a big fishing expedition and if they just release them with obtaining any new information, what purpose has been served by the detention?