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  1. Alfa
    KEEP THE KILLING TO A MINIMUM

    As many as 2,500 people were killed in the first campaign of the
    government's war on drugs, and the country could well see more bloodshed
    now that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has declared a second offensive.
    The government's determination to rid Thai society of the evil of drugs
    deserves the support of us all. But the high fatality rate in the first
    six-month war on drugs last year has seriously marred what should be one of
    this government's major achievements in office.

    Reports of the widespread abuse of authority by law enforcement officers
    sent out to hunt drug gangs were heard everywhere during the first
    campaign. Many suspects were allegedly dispatched through extra-judicial
    killings by officers of the state claiming to be acting in self-defence.
    Others were said to have been killed at the order of druglords to cover
    their tracks. None of these claims have been substantiated by investigation.

    After much criticism at home and abroad, and concerns raised by His Majesty
    the King in his birthday speech in December last year, the government
    finally agreed a little over a month ago to look into the cause of each
    death. Three investigation teams made up of officers from the Narcotics
    Control Board, the Attorney-General's Office and the Justice Ministry will
    look into the cause of each killing and report their findings to the
    government for release to the public. This should finally resolve the
    question of whether those killed were the victims of the arbitrary use of
    state power to satisfy the prime minister's wish for results.

    Mr Thaksin's promise this week to use "brutal measures" in this second
    campaign in sending drug dealers to meet the guardian of Hell obviously
    raises new fears of abuses. There is no question that drug traffickers who
    refuse to give up their death-dealing practices deserve the severest
    punishment under the law. But it does not mean that those in power can take
    the law into their own hands in an effort to free the kingdom of drugs.
    There are legal principles to ensure justice for all regardless of whether
    they are rich or poor, or whether they are good or bad. Criminal suspects
    remain innocent until they are proven otherwise in the courts. What kind of
    society will we have if we allow these principles to be flouted by those in
    power or those who we elected to public office to represent our wishes and
    are supposed to protect our interests?

    Prime Minister Thaksin helped redu
    ce the spread of methamphetamines in his
    first campaign against drugs. But the fact he now needs to open a second
    drive speaks for itself. The first campaign failed to deter those seduced
    by the big money which characterises the drug business. They were not put
    off by the prospect of a violent death that the campaign offered.

    So, instead of sanctioning the use of "brutal measures" to send drug
    dealers to meet the guardian of Hell, perhaps Prime Minister Thaksin should
    review his tactics with an eye to possible flaws. The many complaints about
    the arbitrary use of state power in dealing with drug suspects obviously
    points to one area needing correction. Without proper investigation and
    solid evidence, the government will be unable to get to the kingpins who
    are at the heart of this often deadly business.

    Regrettably, Prime Minister Thaksin, in announcing this new campaign, has
    fallen short of addressing what His Majesty the King and a lot of people
    were concerned about with the first crusade against drugs. Quite the
    contrary, the prime minister has sent a strong signal through his choice of
    words that he might tolerate more bloodshed and not give much concern for
    criticism.

    Mr Thaksin has a track record of doing things his own way, the critics be
    damned. He has shown on many occasions that he has no time for those who do
    not accept his will. We can only hope this attitude does not shade his
    actions to the point where he allows a repeat of the mistakes that so
    blighted his first campaign against drugs.

Comments

  1. Alfa
    THAKSIN DECLARES NEW DRUGS WAR

    Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday declared a new round of a
    full-scale war on drugs, promising "brutal measures" against drug dealers
    and traffickers.

    "Drug dealers and traffickers are heartless and wicked. All of them must be
    sent to meet the guardian of hell, so that there will not be any drugs in
    the country," Mr Thaksin said.

    A lot of youngsters had fallen victim to drug dealers over the years and
    methamphetamines would likely make a comeback.

    "These things are like cancer and we have to continue to keep a close watch
    on them," he said. The new, one-year campaign would involve decisive action
    against drug dealers and traffickers.

    He did not mind if he was criticised. "I have never been afraid of public
    criticism," he said.

    The prime minister faced a barrage of public criticism during his first
    anti-drugs war last year, in which about 2,500 people were killed. He said
    those people were silenced by gangsters, not state agencies. Many people
    disagreed.

    Mr Thaksin said people with knowledge of drug networks in their areas
    should inform the government, through his complaint box or provincial
    governors.

    The prime minister was speaking during a visit to Din Daeng flats where he
    was helping the Thai Rak Thai candidate, actor Yuranan Phamornmontree,
    better known as Sam, campaign for votes.

    Mr Thaksin floated the idea of demolishing all the old Din Daeng flats and
    building new ones.

    Some residents opposed the idea, saying the prime minister was just trying
    to win their votes, and they were worried they would have no place to live
    during the reconstruction.

    "We don't want new flats. What we want is the renovation of the existing
    building," said Lamyong Sangsawang, 52, who has been living there for 35 years.
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