Impunity over Malay-Muslim Killings in Thailand #October25: 19 Years Since the 'Tak Bai' Massacre
What happened in Tak Bai?
The Tak Bai case unfolded on October 25, 2004, in Tak Bai District, Narathiwat Province, Thailand. The event began as a rally to demand justice for the arrest of six people and escalated when the government sought to disperse the protesters. This led to the arrest of more than a thousand protesters, causing 85 deaths, including 78 people who died suffocating in army trucks during their transport to the army camp in Pattani. Over 60 people have gone missing.
What happened to the protesters?
Following the rally and the military's intervention led by the 4th Army Region, events escalated from water spraying to tear gas deployment and culminated in live ammunition firing. It was reported that the protesters were not informed in advance about the dispersal of the Tak Bai protest. In this rally, authorities arrested over 1,370 protesters and forced them to lie prone on top of each other in layers, some stacked 4 to 5 levels high, before being transported to Ingkhayuttha Borihan Fort in Pattani Province.
Tak Bai Massacre - Death Toll:
During the 150-kilometer, 6-hour journey from Tak Bai Police Station to Ingkhayuttha Borihan Fort, many people suffocated to death. In total, 78 lives were lost during this transit, while 6 died during the protest's dispersal, and 1 passed away in the hospital.
In addition, 58 of the protesters faced additional charges, including rape of an official, resisting and obstructing an official using violence, assembling in groups of 10 or more, damaging public property, illegal gun possession, and failure to disperse the assembly.
Who is responsible for this terrible event?
Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, Prime Minister at the time, said in an interview via the CareTalk x Care ClubHouse, “At the time of the incident, I was playing golf in the Bangna area, Bangkok, and it was reported that there was a siege at the police station in order to release the accused, who is accused of delivering weapons to insurgents, after the protest was dissolved and there were arrests of those who gathered. But after that, I didn't know how to arrest the protesters or where they were taken. No one reported it, and there were deaths that occurred”.
Subsequently, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra advised to seek justice for the victims by directing questions to former Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, who had formerly served as the Army Commander-in-Chief at the time. Given his deep knowledge of military affairs, Mr. Thaksin inquired about compensation for the affected individuals, even though he was no longer in office.
Following Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra's interview concerning the Tak Bai massacre, a reporter approached Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, who was identified as the Army Commander of the 4th Army Region during that period. Gen. Prawit, however, evaded the questions by promptly departing in his car.
Impunity over the Killings of Malay-Muslims
As of today, nobody has been held accountable for the Tak Bai Massacre! The enduring pain caused by this massacre reverberates through the families of the accused and those affected by violent events in Narathiwat Province. This is considered one of the important factors that has driven border-area villagers and residents in the south to reject leading political parties, from the Thai Rak Thai Party to the People Power Party and the Pheu Thai Party.
#WeAreManushyan ♾ Equal Human Beings
Our Call To Action
Manushya stands in solidarity with the protesters, those who lost their lives, and those affected by the 'Tak Bai' protest dispersal. We demand that those responsible for this tragic event face legal consequences, including compensation for the affected families before the case's expiration in 2024.
Cross Cultural Foundation, Tak Bai Incident, accessible at: https://crcfthailand.org/en/case-library/tak-bai-incident/
Al Jazeera, Muslims in south Thailand mark 15 years since 'Tak Bai massacre', (2019, October 25), accessible at:https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/25/muslims-in-south-thailand-mark-15-years-since-tak-bai-massacre
Bangkok Post, Thaksin, Prawit trade blame for Tak Bai massacre, (2022, October 26), accessible at:https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2423190/thaksin-prawit-trade-blame-for-tak-bai-massacre
Benar News, Victims Cannot Forget Tak Bai Tragedy in Thailand, (2015, October 22), accessible at:https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/thai/Tak-Bai-10222015155832.html