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Police State Terror in Thailand

I am a Portland activist that has been traveling in Southeast Asia for around three months. Recently in Thailand, the Prime Minister with the military elite who run the country have declared an open war against "drug dealers." This war has turned into a terror campaign that has already left over a 1000 people murdered by special police/military death squads, just within a weeks time. There are police and military checkpoints everywhere, searching for the people on the "death list." The military command of Thailand has just closed down the INN news service due to its reporting of the murders.
As I was traveling through the Golden Triangle, which is in the north of Thailand and in the border area that it shares with Burma and Laos, public transportation was being harrassed due to numerous police and military checkpoints. I personally experienced this, with the buses that I took to get around from city to city, were being stopped various times by special police and military units. At first, I reached to show them my passport, but it seemed that they were more concerned with the local bus riders. Apparently, they had a list of people to detain. I saw a few detainees on the sides of the roads. I thought of what might have happened to them.

Now I can only think the worse: murder. The news has come out, especially in the Bangkok Post and in INN (International News Network) with stories of the police and military in their war against Methamphetamine sellers. So far, the number of victims in this terror campaign has reached to over a 1,000 deaths - within only a weeks time! The campaign has included an insiduous ploy of declaring an amnesty for some of the sellers and then murdering them in prison. There have also been attacks on people's homes and then assassinating all the adults of the house. The Bangkok Post even showed a photo of a young girl after discovering her parents murdered in their own home.

The Prime Minister and the military elite who run this country and have been known to be some of the worst Heroin dealers in the world. They were first involved in the drug trade through the US government supported KMT drug lords(anti-Chinese Communist units) around Burma in the 50s and 60s; and then later through the US government's CIA front of Air America during the Indochina conflict in the 60s and 70s. In Thailand, the law means nothing: the exception is the will of bribery and extortion. The semi divine King of Thailand has been mysteriously quiet during these disturbances. Now the streets are filled with police and military units that are making many foreigners nervous. The last military coup d'etat was in 1993. The other day, the military junta closed the INN news service declaring its journalism "a crime against the Nation"; consequently, censorship is in order for all news and media outlets in Thailand. Due to this new information blackout, it is quite necessary that concerned travelers in Thailand report on these dangerous times.

Thailand has recently been in a severe Asian economic crisis; meanwhile, the corruption has gotten worse. Extreme Capitalism has taken a toll on the people. The streets are by the day more scattered with beggars, indigent victims and children selling flowers and candy; there is no social safety net here. Nevertheless, the IMF, WTO and the World Bank have declared Thailand to be an "economic giant" of Asia. Thailand does have a history of severe repression. In the 1970s there was a University student movement that was savagely repressed with around 3,000 unexplained murders by CIA trained military death squads. This story is once again being repeated.

Slanted??? 03.Mar.2003 08:25

Looking at both sides

Kinda' leaving out a little aren't we???

It's true that there have been over 1000 deaths, I believe the recent figures are just over 1,400. However what you don't post is that the majority of these deaths have occurred at the hands of the drug gangs.

A great deal of these deaths are atributed to the Chinese Haw, most of whom are involved in the production and distribution of heroin in Thailand. The Haw are killing each other.

There can be no doubt that the government agencies, the Thai army in most part, have engaged the drug gangs and deaths have ensued. It should be pointed out that the drug gans are armies in of themselves, heavily armed and led by their own "generals". It should also be known that these drug armies have been in place since the 60's and are firmly entrenched in the Golden Triangle area.

This is not a case of a massive slaughter of innocents.

As to the radio station, 96FM I believe, their lease of the frequency has run out some time ago and they have been operating on an at-will basis. They were offered a renewal of the lease but for only 12 hours a day of broadcast tie. So far they have refused. The station is more than liberal in its on-going criticism of the Thai government- especially the Thai Army who owns the frequency. If you want to continue to lease your house, you don't piss-off the landlord.

You are a tourist, not a Thai expert. You want the continued availability of cheap heroin?? If you think the Thais are tough on drugs- which they are- get caught with drugs in Singapore. You'll quickly find out what tough really is.

about the king 03.Mar.2003 17:45

sabai dee

The king makes very few public statements. Next to none, really: sorta his way of maintaining the divinity you speak of. I don't belive he spoke out during the economic crisis of 4-5 years ago -- in fact, I think his last extensive public statements were during the student riots in the early/mid 80's. He told his military to stop shooting students, and they stopped.

Sometimes less is more, or something like that.

Which Thailand are you speaking of? 04.Mar.2003 20:57

Rita Beigh ritapdx@attbi.com

I don't know where you've been in Thailand and you've certainly been there a very long time. WOW!!! Three whole months and you've managed to paint a dismal picture of a corrupted police state run by a military junta.

That certainly is not the Thailand I've been to, and known, and grown to love. My partner and I watched the premier of "October Moon" in October of 2001. If the junta was there that movie certainly would not have been shown.

FYI, by definition Thailand is a Constitutional Monarchy. The last comments I remember the King making had to do with farming of black prawns. That was in October 2001 as well. Further, just prior to our leaving Thailand, a national health care system was put in place at the cost of 500 baht per annum. That's about $12 US. A considerable sum of money in Thailand, but I also know that tuk-tuk drivers can, and often do, bring home that much in one day.

There has always been trouble up in Chang Rai province, part of the "Golden Triangle", with the drug wars.

I think your comments are reminiscent of those of so many arrogant American tourists.

Sawatdee Ka

reply for the ignorant 05.Mar.2003 05:35

valki

Little did I know that emotional people tied to the King of Thailand and Thai-wanna-be "farangs' would respond to my article, or let alone, click on to Indymedia. Let me address the first comment "Slanted." Slanted actually is a lot more "slanted" than I am. Slanted mentions that most of the deaths were tied to the so called "Drug gangs". If this is true, how come there are no police deaths? Is it not the usual case that in shoot outs between police and narcotraffickers there are deaths on both sides of the shootout? Slanted has been reading too many Asian rag newspapers that are tied to the State apparatus' in Asia. Slanted also seems to enjoy lecturing - hey Singapore. Well, Slanted forgot Maylasia (a country where I have been also traveling extensively) that has a death penalty even for small personal amounts of "illegal drugs." Yet even in Malaysia, there is growing use of the drug Ecstacy. This is similar to Thailand where Meth-amphetamines are used and abused; not so much to party the night away, but by bus drivers and other workers that are forced to work bizarre hours due to the lack of worker rights in Thailand. Slanted is also wrong about the INN closure. He should read the Bangkok Post front page article of March 2nd, 2003. It was closed by the Military Junta. Apparently, the chief of the Army just recently reopened the offices of INN.

Next I will address the "King-Sabai Dee" person. For those who don't know: "Sabai Dee" is the english pronunciation spelling of "fine/good" in Bhasa Thai. King Sabai Dee is an arm chair historian that often does more damage than good to the History discipline. The lie that the King ordered the stoppage of the murders concerning protesting students in the 1970s - is still a lie and not true. The King made one major public statement during the disturbances, which was "a call for Order." Any intelligent watcher of foreign affairs knows what "a Call for Order" stands for; it usually means a green light for the military. What stopped the murder of students was not the King's intervention (the infantile American tourist guide "Let's Go" also peddles this nonsense); it was the dispersal of the students into the armed Communist insurgency in the South and in the North. This is where the US trained Thai military used its Death Squad experience to burn alive suspected "Communists" in sealed oil drums. What finally stopped the insurgency was the Amnesty called in the early 80s.

I will address the third comment, but the tone was quite foolish and was probably written by a grown up adolescent; therefore, I will only address the main issue: tourism. The person writing, first mispelled the English pronunciation of "Sawadee" (the first word in a formal and informal Thai greeting) to "Sawatdee." It is pronounced "Sawadee." But our Thai expert knows better. I have met many foreign tourists in Thailand and unfortunately many come for the wrong reasons. The worst sort of "farang" or foreigner, as Thais refer to them, are the wanna-bes. These are the dupes who come over with very little cultural understanding of Theravada Bhuddism, nor the historical movements in Southeast Asia. Their knowledge is a very general one, yet they travel through the country for some time and then fall in love with the tropical landscape, the easy smiles and laid back attitude of the Thai; they get some important Thai phrases down, and then all of sudden - they are not tourists anymore, but "Thais," or "part Thais." They don't look like Thais, and no matter how well they speak the language, the Thais will never consider them true Thais or sympathetic Thais - but still they manage to convince themselves that they are "Thai," or "cool farangs." They forget that the "Thais" are quite race conscious; distinguishing between Thais and other Asians; and then, Thais, Asians and other foreigners.

This group of "half Thais" is growing due to the easy use of simply crossing the border, if one wants to extend one's visa. Of all the foreign tourists that are quite laughable in this area of the world, and I include myself, which is due to my foreign status; the worst offenders are the ones who stay for half a year, or for eight years; speak passable Thai and afterward, start to talk and take the mannerisms of the Thai - and they look like complete imbeciles. They are truly ugly to watch, and if they only knew that the Thais disrespect them because they don't understand which world they belong in. This is sad, but so true, not just in Thailand, but for any exile or ex-pat in whatever adopted country. The adolescent writer seems to be one of these types, and should remember this; whether she/he watched "October Moon," or found out that Tuk Tuk drivers make only 500 baht a day (around 10 $ US) - he/she will never become a Thai expert, nor a Thai.

Valki has understated the case 28.May.2003 02:01

Matthew McDaniel akha@akha.org

Valki has understated the case. There have now been more than 2274 people murdered and if you think the Chinese Haw did this you need hooks for ears so you can pull your head out of your ass.

Having lived here and worked in the drug corridor for more than 12 years with the Akha hill tribe I can say that Thailand's government is one of the most brutal in the world. The fact that they use prostitution as an opiate on the foreigners to keep their eyes closed is not missed.

Extra judicial murders of hilltribe people is common, I document them regularly and am in constant contact both with UN personell and individuals of foreign governments. The web site www.akha.org has the pics of only a few of these brutal murders.

If you are here to get laid or get your ass tatooed you need read no further.

Brutal oppression forces many Akha girls and other hill tribe girls into prostitution to keep their families alive.
Most foreigners avail themselves of these means while ignoring what put these girls there. Conditions their daughters will never live under.

Men and women have been shot in bed, shot out of their vehicles, shot so many times they lost their skulls and bowels.

A person doesn't have to be in Thailand for a long time or take a friggin thai cooking class to know what is going on here.

Any seasoned traveler should be able to see in a moment.

A witness against Thaksin's income tax evasion (Shin Sat) was murdered.

Murder with guns is common place here over most disputes. Most cases are never investigated and never solved.

The police arrest, make up a report, doesn't matter if you can disprove it, full of lies, it flies, and no one, the judge, no one, questions it. The courts are a joke, justice is a joke in Thailand.

I have hilltribe coming to my house daily complaining of false arrest, abuse, murder. A Lahu woman was stopped at the checkpoint near my house. The soldiers took her away to play, killed her with a knife.

Yesterday, the forestry arrested eight hill tribe for the federal crime of Thailand. 50,000 baht bail. One was a 19year eight month pregnant woman. Farming her corn.

They beat, burn, cut, and decapitate people. There is no one to appeal to.

You should know what the hell your are talking about before you open your friggin mouth. Valki understated the case.

The US White House Office on National Drug control Policy administrator Mr. Crane in January promised Thailand more funds for doing a great job. The killing was started in February. Once again, American Trained personell including Task Force 399 of Mae Rim Chiang Mai.

Were the funds cut? No, just this rubbish about disapproval. Cobra Gold also went on as usual.
The government admits it got hundreds of the wrong people.

Where were you, eating yogurt on Koh Sahn Road?

No more morons please,

Matthew McDaniel
Maesai, Thailand, The Akha Heritage Foundation

http://www.akha.org
66-1-884-8111
Po Box 16, Maesai, Chiangrai, Thailand 57130

killing drug dealers is not bad 29.Mar.2004 11:55

william brown

Killing drug dealers is not a bad thing. It takes a strong, bold leader to carry out such an action, so as to guarantee the economic and social prosperity of his people.

war on drugs 14.Nov.2004 07:59

thalenoi

>Killing drug dealers is not a bad thing. It takes a strong, bold leader to carry out such an action, so as to guarantee the economic and social prosperity of his people.

The problem is to fulfill your provincial target, you are under pressure of Central Command.
Stopping the pick-up truck on a dirt road of a man who got onto your list is not that difficult.
too bad he was accompanied by his wife and kids. "Ya know", said the policeman, "I had to kill them all, self-defence"

This month of october 2004, 75 demonstrators or riotting people (depending which side you look from), from the Southern provinces, have been suffocated to death in army trucks. Normal anti-riotting procedure in Thailand. The army commander will get a medal for his prompt action.

because its illegal 17.Oct.2005 15:27

neutralsam

if the drugs were legal then we wouldn't have the problems. Up in Northern canada where everything is flown in kids sniff gas to get high. People being people will do what makes them feel good no matter how harmful, so ban the drugs and let them sniff gas??

if pot was free would someone go to the trouble of making meth?

The war on drugs gives the government more power and the tools to enforce it. Just think of all the world problems that could be solved with the money used in the WAR ON DRUGS.

DRUGS ARN'T THE PROBLEM THE WORLD IS