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.
Subsequent Thaksin-directed governments even inflated the numbers of the drug dead to appeal to the public.
2007: Refuting the “2275” number and positing that 1,329 deaths is more accurate (interestingly, the Royal Thai Police do admit to 72 extra-judicial killings).
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: Thaksin-directed governments always played up the numbers of those who could be killed: 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…
2017: Thailand’s Drug Decriminalization Edges Forward – With Little Fanfare
…“You can put me on record saying this: We have tried the Philippines way, and it failed,” said Mana, who’s in charge of the agency’s laws department, referring to the policies put in place in that country since the election of Rodrigo Duterte that have seen an estimated 13,000 slain in extra-judicial killings.
In 2003, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra declared open season on suspected drug offenders and roughly 2,800 killings ensued. About half of those killed were later determined to have been uninvolved in the drug trade…
Another controversy: Burning Thailand: Teaching Thai School Children About Protest Arson