THAILAND: Thailand’s dangerous slide into barbarism

Thailand’s dangerous slide into barbarism

The six migrant workers murdered in Thailand this week were the victims of a monster that threatens to consume an entire society and its democracy. The monster was let loose by the current government when in February it launched a “war on drugs” and granted the police a licence to kill. Unless it is stopped soon, the monster may become uncontrollable.

That the six Burmese men were murdered with the complicity of the police, army and local officials in Mae Sot now appears beyond doubt. That such murders have occurred with alarming regularity for many years, but are rarely reported on as migrant workers in Thailand have long been treated as sub-humans, is also well known. Only cases of extreme brutality are ever made public, such as the murder of at least 21 persons on the Mae Lamao stream in January 2002. No one has ever been brought to account for that atrocity, which the Asian Legal Resource Centre has taken before the UN Commission on Human Rights. 

Yet the sheer openness with which the police and other local officials engaged in their conspiracy indicates the extent to which they now feel free to kill with impunity. The Asian Human Rights Commission has already noted that with the “war on drugs” the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has effectively endorsed murder (AS-08-2003). Since that war began over 2000 persons have been killed, cremated, and officially forgotten. Never tiring of the fight, the Prime Minister has now begun a war on ‘dark influences’, including alleged human traffickers and agents for migrant workers. With the taste of blood fresh in its mouth, the police force will thirst for more.

The persons who killed these six men must be jailed. They are known and within reach. They must be arrested and prosecuted without delay. They must be made into a public example. The National Human Rights Commission, to which relatives of the dead men brought their appeal, must do everything in its power to pursue this case. The six men’s killers will not be the only ones on trial: so too will be the killers of all migrant workers in Thailand, and the killers of all those alleged drug traffickers who since February have died without being granted the right to assert “I am innocent”. Finally, above all else, it is the rule of law and democracy in Thailand that will be on trial. The Asian Human Rights Commission sincerely hopes that justice will not fail.

Asian Human Rights Commission – AHRC, Hong Kong


Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-18-2003
Countries : Thailand,