On October 25, some 3,000 Thai people went to the police
station of Tak Bai district in the southern province of Narathiwat. They
were calling for the release of six village defense volunteers who were
arrested with the suspicion that they were providing Islamic militants with
Government officials would like us to believe that it was
a violent protest. What it was, in fact, was a violent dispersal of that
protest, which led to six people dead of gunshot wounds, 85 people dead of
suffocation, and 1,300 arrested.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in a statement he read
to the members of the Parliament on Oct. 27 said that the military troops
used a “soft” approach in dealing with the protesters. In reference to
the deaths, Thaksin said, “It was an accident that we could not have done
we accept this lame excuse for the deaths of 87 people, who were tied
together, dumped in trucks, face down, on top of each other, and traveled
for hours some 120 kilometers to Pattani military camp? Dr. Pornthip
Rojanasunand from the Central Institute of Forensic Science said that 80%
died of suffocation, others from convulsion. “It wasn’t inhumane
treatment,” the prime minister said. “It is clear that we did nothing
wrong… I don’t think anyone has to take responsibility.”
This we cannot accept. The military has to take
responsibility of these horrific deaths caused by their inhumane treatment
of civilians. And the prime minister has to take responsibility of the
culture of violence that he has perpetuated in his administration. The
Thaksin government’s quick-fix solution to problems has led to appalling
high number of deaths. His solution to the illegal drug problem – declare
war on drugs and kill thousands of people. The unrest in the South –
declares martial law, and sets aside people’s right to assemble and other
democratic rights. If they protest, disperse them, shoot at them, and arrest
them. If someone dares to challenge the government’s actions and policies,
declare them as “NGOs who have nothing better to do.” When faced with
criticisms from international community, and the United Nations, declare
them as “not my father”, and say “they don’t feed us.”
Meanwhile, the death toll under this administration
2,500 deaths from the war on drugs in 2003; 17 documented
cases of activists and rights defenders killed or made to disappear as of
August 2004; 117 death toll in the April 2004 Krue Se Mosque massacre in the
South; 87 in the latest Narathiwat massacre.
These numbers do not even include the daily killings
happening in the South. Or the killings happening which are not documented
or reported because of fear.
The facts speak for themselves. And we should speak out.
For our immediate demands to the Thaksin government
Immediately and unconditionally release the detained 1,300 protesters.
Accept responsibility of the Narathiwat massacre and
bring to justice the perpetrators of the violence. Stop the use of violence
and come up with a peaceful process to address the issues in the South.
Let the truth be heard. Stop distorting facts and allow
full disclosure of information through the media.
Create an independent investigative body which would look
into and report to the public the real circumstances of the Oct. 25
Meanwhile, we urge the Thai people to remain vigilant and
courageous to stand up for our rights and to be united in our pursuit for a
peaceful and democratic Thailand.
United for Peace – Chiang Mai
A group of human rights organizations, activists, and
concerned individuals working for peace and justice