From Thairath, March 6, 2003
Cartoon title: Are you Thai? [meaning a real Thai person would not object to eliminating drug dealers]
On the arm: Human right academics
On the knife blade: United Nations
On packet in sitting man’s hand: Ya ba [amphetamines]
On briefcase: Money derived from Ya ba trafficking
[It should be remembered that, despite the international perspective that might see extra-judicial killings of drug suspects as indefensible, such policies are popular across the Thai political spectrum.
They are seen as a common sense response to the reality of provincial life where the legal system has little ability to enforce laws and the police are ensconced within the local power structure that favors the influential.]
2007: Refuting the “2275” number (2275: Where Did This Number Come From?) and positing that 1,329 is more accurate (interestingly, the Royal Thai Police do admit to 72 extra-judicial killings).
…Finally, AFP who were originally the source of HRW’s 2,275 figure later quote HRW and make the same mistake:
The government’s drugs campaign started in February 2003 with some 2,275 extrajudicial killings in the first three months, according to the US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW).
COMMENT: Let that be a lesson, don’t quote a source who earlier quoted you. Otherwise, you you will turn like the AFP!…
2008: From Thai elections revive drug war controversy:
…Thailand saw an 88 percent jump in murder cases during the main phase of Thaksin’s drugs campaign, from February to April 2003, according to a 2008 report by a Thai special committee on anti-drugs policy.
The report said there were 2,873 murders in the period, 1,370 of them drugs-related…
2008: It was the subsequent Thaksin-directed governments that inflated the numbers of dead to appeal to the public.
Interior minister Chalerm Yubamrung, said: “When we implement a policy that may bring 3,000 to 4,000 bodies, we will do it,”
2008: Threats to Resume Thaksin’s War on Drugs
…In recent weeks, the government of Thailand has publicly threatened the resumption of killings. On 20 February, Interior Minister, Chalerm Yubamrung, told parliament that “For drug dealers if they do not want to die, they had better quit staying on that road… drugs suppression in my time as Interior Minister will follow the approach of [former Prime Minister] Thaksin. If that will lead to 3,000-4,000 deaths of those who break the law, then so be it. That has to be done … For those of you from the opposition party, I will say you care more about human rights than drug problems in Thailand.”
2008: Guidelines for the government’s next war on drugs
…First, policy-makers should not get involved in incitement to murder. When announcing the policy to governors and police chiefs in 2003, Thaksin referred to the results already achieved in two trial provinces: “Sometimes people were shot dead and had their assets seized as well. I think we have to be equally ruthless. If drug traders don’t stop, there is a chance they will be dealt with in every way, both life and limb.” He continued, “With the traders, you must use hammer and fist, that is, act decisively and without mercy. If some drug traders die, it will be a common thing.”
Seven weeks later, when over a thousand had already died, Thaksin repeated that drug dealers had only two choices – to go to jail or their own funerals…
Another controversy: Burning Thailand: Teaching Thai School Children About Protest Arson