THAILAND: At least 84 people killed in Southern Thailand
October 26, 2004
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM
26 October 2004
UA-143-2004: THAILAND: At least 84 people killed in Southern Thailand
THAILAND: Mass killings; Extrajudicial killings; Collapse of rule of law
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that at least 84 people died and more than 20 others were injured on 25 October 2004, when the Thai government security forces dispersed and arrested about 3,000 protesters in Narathiwat province. The government officials said that about 1,300 protesters were arrested for questioning, but the exact number of detainees is unknown. No names of detainees have yet been announced and no visitors have been allowed to meet the detainees. A curfew has also been imposed in eight of Narathiwat province's 12 districts on the same night.
In fact, this is another mass killings committed by Thai security forces in southern provinces. Before this event, the government's official figures showed that more than 400 people had been killed since this January.
The AHRC is gravely concerned that the Thai authorities' repeated use of violence against civilians badly affects the rule of law in the country, and further encourages impunity of the police and soldiers to get involved in further violence. We call for your urgent intervention into this matter. Please send a letter to the government of Thailand and request it to ensure independent and high-level judicial and legislative inquiries. Please also urge them to ensure that the National Human Rights Commission can be free to make inquiries into this matter as well.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
On 25 October 2004, at least six protesters were shot to death and more than 20 others were injured, when the Thai government security forces violently reacted against about 3,000 Muslim protesters outside the Tak Bai district police station in the southern province of Narathiwat. The number of deaths dramatically increased to 84 today (October 26) after the Thai officials confirmed that 78 people were suffocated to death after being arrested and packed into police trucks. The actual number of deaths is expected to be more than the announced official number.
Maj. Gen. Sinchai Nujsathit, deputy commander of the fourth army, said the victims may have died from suffocation "because we had more than 1,300 people packed into the six-wheel trucks." He did not say how many trucks were used. Other evidences suggested that these people might have been killed by the effect of tear gas as well as the lack of air. Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunan, a forensics expert who conducted autopsies on 78 bodies, said that some victims had blood coming from their eyes.
The incident of October 25 resulted from a protest outside Tak Bai district police station earlier in the day, which demanded the release of six village defense volunteers who were arrested under suspicion of giving government-issued weapons to Islamic militants.
More than 1,000 police and soldiers were mobilized to bring the protest under control. When the number of the protesters was increasing, fearing the incident would become unmanageable, security officials fired water cannons and tear gas at demonstrators. Witnesses said they saw troops firing at protesters while officers in charge of dispersing the mob insisted that shots were fired into the air, but not at any human targets. Some reports also said police used live ammunition. The military later claimed that they took the action against the protesters because the protest was illegal under the Martial Law imposed in Southern provinces of Thailand since this January, which prohibits assembly of more than 5 persons in any occasion.
Narathiwat's public health chief, Dr Sirichai Phattharanuthaporn, confirmed at least six people were killed and more than 20 injured, one of whom was a police officer. The bodies of all the men killed bore gunshots wounds. "I saw soldiers fire at protestors, others kicked and used their rifle butts to hit them," said one witness.
The security forces also arrested about 1,300 protesters and took them to different locations for questioning. Before being taken away, these people were laid face-down in rows on the pavement and their hands were tied with rope. As the southern provinces are under Marital Law provisions, the arrested people would be detained for seven days for questioning by the army in Pattani's Muang district. However, the human rights groups in Thailand have reported that the exact number of detainees is unknown, no names of detainees have been announced, and no visitors have been allowed to meet them.
Following the incident, on late night of October 25, a curfew has also been imposed in eight districts of Narathiwat province- Tak Bai, Sungai Padi, Waeng, Sukhirin, Cho Airong, Rangae, Chanae and Bacho. According to Lt-General Pisarn Wattanawongkiri, Fourth Army Region Commander, the curfew has banned people from leaving their homes between 10:00pm and 6:00am.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who made an emergency visit to the deep south after the incident, said that the unrest was clearly provoked and "it would not be right to assume every suspect was innocent until proven guilty". Prime Minister Thaksin reportedly said, "This is typical." when he was asked about reports of scores dead, "It's about bodies made weak from fasting. Nobody hurt them."
The AHRC is gravely concerned that this incident is in violation of the Constitution of Thailand as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party. The ICCPR clearly lays down the limits to the abrogation of rights under emergency situations. Use of violence by the military is extremely unacceptable in any circumstances, especially when most protesters were unarmed. The violent reaction of the government authorities only creates more violence and tension in the south rather than solve the problems.
Mass killings under martial law provision:
The Majority of areas in the three southern provinces-Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat- are under martial law provisions. Imposing martial law is a common practice in Thailand, which allows the security forces to engage in activities without independent scrutiny, denying rights to the people that they enjoy in other areas. Under the martial law provisions, people cannot expect any of proper investigations, fair trial and punishment of perpetrators. All the mass killings mentioned above were committed by the security forces with the benefit of martial law.
In light of the above, the AHRC strongly urges the government of Thailand to ensure independent and high-level judicial and legislative inquiries into this matter. The National Human Rights Commission should also been given free access to make any inquiry into this matter as well. The AHRC especially urges the government of Thailand to take prompt and genuine steps to prevent further violence commited by the security forces against civilians.
To see the detailed information about the incident, please go to see the media articles below.
1. The Nation:
- Muslim anger spills over: Religious leaders urge govt restraint
- Protest in Narathiwat: Six killed in bloody clashes with troops
2. Bangkok Post:
- Bloodshed, mayhem in South
- Islamic leader: Troops overreacted
- S Thailand protest turns violent
- Thai protesters died in custody
4. CNN: Officials: 78 die after Thai riot
- Six Rioters Killed in Southern Thailand
- At Least 78 Die After Thailand Riot
6. AFP: Six dead after demonstration in southern Thailand
7. Reuters: Thailand Says 78 Protesters Died in Army Custody
For earlier statements by the AHRC on the massacre in April of this year, see: AS-11-2004 and AS-24-2004.
To see the AHRC statement on this matter, please go to:
AS-43-2004: Catastrophe in Thailand could have been avoided, must be addressed
Please send a letter to the Thai government and request them to ensure an independent investigation into this matter by the Ministry of Justice.
Re: THAILAND: At least 84 people killed in Southern Thailand
I am writing to bring to your urgent attention the mass killings took place in Narathiwat province on 25 October 2004.
According to the information received, at least 84 people died and more than 20 others were injured, when the Thai government security forces dispersed and arrested about 3,000 Muslim protesters outside the Tak Bai district police station in southern province of Narathiwat. At least six people were shot to death and 78 people were suffocated to death after being arrested and packed into police trucks. It was also reported that about 1,300 protesters were arrested taken to different locations for questioning.
This is a clear violation of the Constitution of Thailand as well as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which lays down the limits to the abrogation of rights under emergency situation.
I strongly urge you to ensure an immediate and independent investigation into this matter by the judicial and legislative arms of the government. National Human Rights Commission should also be free to make any inquiry into the matter. I particularly urge the government of Thailand to take genuine steps to stop increasing extrajudicial killings committed by the security forces. Use of violence by the military is extremely unacceptable in any circumstances, especially when most protesters were unarmed.
SEND A LETTER TO:
1. Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District,
Fax: +662 282 8631
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Mr. Pongthep Thepkanjana
Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pak Kred, Nonthaburi 11120
Tel: +66 2 502 8223
Fax: +66 2 502 8224
3. Professor Saneh Chamarik
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathurn Wan District
Fax: +66 2 219 2940
4. Dr Bhokin Bhalakula
Minister of Interior
Ministry of Interior
Tel: +662 224-6320/6341
Fax: +662 226-4371
5. Pol. Gen. Kovit Watthana
Royal Thai Police
Rama I , Patumwan,
Tel. +662 205-1313, 205-220, 205-1840-9
Fax: +662 251-5956
6. General Sampan Bunyanan
Minister of Defense
The ministry of Defense
Sanamchai Road, Pranakorn district
Tel: +662 226 3114-6
Fax: +662 226 3214
7. Ms Manuela Carmema Castrillo
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
8. Mr. Philip Alston
Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions
Att: Lydie Ventre
c/o OHCHR-UNOG, 1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (general)
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)