Thailand to launch new 'war on drugs'

By lexifer · Mar 25, 2008 · ·
  1. lexifer

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  1. Lunar Loops
    This could readily be placed into the Drug Policy Reform & Politics forum, but as the original posting is here...

    This from The International Herald Tribune:

    Thai government launches new war on drugs, emulating controversial 2003 campaign

    Thailand has launched a war on drugs, reviving a controversial project of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose critics said his 2003 drug war cost many innocent lives.

    Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung defended the new campaign as he inaugurated it Wednesday.

    "There will not be any infringement of our people's liberties and I have never said that I have a policy of extrajudicial killings," Chalerm said. "But I said that drugs are a very complicated problem. If you don't want to die, don't walk down that road."

    About 2,300 people were killed during Thailand's drug war. Human rights activists said there were many extrajudicial executions by police and other security forces.

    The government said drug gangs carried out most of the killings to eliminate informers or rivals. Few if any people were tried or convicted over the slayings.

    Thaksin's drug war was popular in some rural areas and slums where a tide of methamphetamine pills from neighboring Myanmar led to soaring addiction and crime.

    "Should we do nothing because we are afraid that someone is going to criticize us?" Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said in February when he called for a new anti-drug campaign. "Why are you worried about the fate of drug traffickers?"

    Samak's government, which took office early this year, has tried to emulate several of Thaksin's popular policies. Samak's party is widely seen as a stand-in for Thaksin's political machine.

    Thaksin was ousted in a September 2006 military coup and a court barred him from holding office until 2012 after finding his party guilty of electoral fraud.

    Vasant Panich, a former member of Thailand's independent state National Human Rights Commission, said his group knew of about 100 innocent victims of Thaksin's drug war, based on complaints it received.

    "We do agree that the drug sellers should be punished, but we think that the lives of innocents are more important," he said Wednesday.

    One of the better-known cases in the earlier drug war was that of 9-year-old Chakraphan Srisa-ad, who died from bullet wounds after police allegedly fired at the car driven by his mother as she fled a drug sting operation in which his father was arrested.

    Witnesses and circumstances suggested that police fired at the car. Authorities said a man from the same drug ring that the father alleged belonged to fired the deadly shots, while police shot into the air. No one was convicted over the incident.
  2. Expat98

    Casualties of Thailand's 'war on drugs'

    Published: April 24, 2008

    HONG KONG, China, A lot of talk in Thailand these days is about the prospects for a new "war on drugs," following on from the state-sponsored murders of people supposedly buying and selling amphetamines in 2003.

    Although only a few killings have so far been reported in the weeks following the current prime minister's and interior minister's announcements that the war would resume, their enthusiasm for its methods does not seem to have been dampened by its manifest lack of success.

    There is persistent argument about the numbers of persons killed and circumstances under which they died last time around. As there were few criminal inquiries and the scale of earlier killings was far beyond the capacity of human rights groups and the media to document fully, it is difficult to speak with certainty about what happened nationwide.

    Instead, a better way to understand the mechanics of the "war" is to recall specific cases. In the last week or so a newspaper in Bangkok has been doing just this, publishing accounts of the dead and their relatives, such as that of Somjit Kayandee, who was shot in front of her family after visiting the local police station, and that of six northern men killed together in a pickup truck on their way home from an anti-drug meeting.

    Another story published is that of Saman Thongdee, in 2003 a 47-year-old living with his partner of over twenty years, Charuayporn, and their two children in the big northwestern town of Tak.

    Seven years earlier, Saman had been accused of dealing in drugs while working as a schoolteacher. He was transferred to an office job and had been investigated but let off. He had kept working in the new post.

    But at dusk on April 9 of that year, a black sedan pulled up outside Saman's house. At least two of its occupants shot him dead with pistols before driving away.

    When Charuayporn heard the news, she rushed back and found police and bystanders everywhere. A doctor arrived and went through the formalities of recording details of the deceased. Saman was shirtless. A police officer took off his pants and checked his underwear. Then his corpse was taken to the hospital.

    After hospital staff finished their duties, Saman's body was moved to a room to be cleaned and readied for his funeral.

    It was then that police ordered the family outside on the pretext of needing to take fingerprints and photographs and incise the deceased. Shortly thereafter, they called everyone back and suddenly produced a little blue plastic pack of pills: the same sort of little blue plastic pack "found" by police officers on drug-killing victims all over the country.

    The police insisted that the drugs were in Saman's underpants, although an orderly had already removed these and thrown them into a rubbish bin without having uncovered anything. Nor had the doctor called to the scene of the crime noted the existence of any such pack either there or when re-examining the body at the hospital.

    The police failed to come up with anything else to support their averment, but this didn't stop them from coming to Saman's house with letters issued following the orders of Prime Minister Pol. Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra to seize property obtained through the drugs trade. They took most of what the family owned, including two cars, bank accounts, land, motorcycles and insurance deeds.

    To top it off, Saman's insurance company refused to honor his life policy, claiming that he had lied about how he earned his income, although his case was never tried in court.

    In 2004, a team from the National Human Rights Commission concluded that there was no firm evidence to support the police claims. Indeed, it found that their version of events was inconsistent with those of all other persons involved.

    In 2006, Saman's case was transferred to the Department of Special Investigation together with a number of others, including that of a nine-year-old who was shot dead while sitting in a car; the police accused in that case have recently been acquitted.

    The Justice Ministry also decided to return assets to Saman's family, quietly acknowledging that the charges against him were baseless. However, to date there has been no known action taken against the officers who set the case up.

    With the unrepentant talk of Thailand's new government, it is unlikely there will be any further progress to the piecemeal efforts for justice in drug war cases. Whether or not there are fresh corpses in 2008, there are not likely to be fresh inquiries.

    In every society criminal inquiry is affected by all sorts of pressures from outside groups and individuals, including those with political interests. However, Saman's case reveals the extent to which in Thailand justice is captive to these forces. The relatives of these casualties of "war" are down one moment and up the next as policies seesaw from government to government.

    Throughout it all, the police remain much the same, and Saman's killers, like those of the war's victims across Thailand, all but forgotten.
  3. ~lostgurl~
  4. Expat98
    The "extra-judicial killings" (i.e., murders) that took place in Thailand in 2003-2004 have been well documented by human rights organizations. Most estimates I read are that about 2300-2500 alleged yaba dealers were murdered. Many of those were rival dealers or people that the cops just set up. The story in the article above is a good example.

    Here's another article on this subject:

  5. Expat98
    Here's the best article I've seen on this so far.
  6. Triple7
    Prime Minister, and ex cop, Thaksin Shinawatra is the one who started the WOD. Military made a coup and he went exile.

    After few years in exile, Thaksin is now back, but he is not allowed to be politician. At least, he is not allowed to become prime minister, I know I am that far correct.

    Thaksin returned few months ago, right before the elections. His party won.

    Guess who stands behind the curtain?

    Triple7 added 1 Minutes and 8 Seconds later...

    Prime Minister, and ex cop, Thaksin Shinawatra is the one who started the WOD. Military made a coup and he went exile.

    After few years in exile, Thaksin is now back, but he is not allowed to be politician. At least, he is not allowed to become prime minister, I know I am that far correct.

    Thaksin returned few months ago, right before the elections. His party won.

    Guess who stands behind the curtain?
  7. Panthers007
    How auspicious that the byline reads: Chiang Mai. That is the railway center from which the heroin produced in the "Golden Triangle" is distributed for international flights. This was found during the Viet~Nam War when the CIA was running junk into the USA. And it is still thriving today.

    The War On Drugs is a cynical farce orchestrated by the kingpins of the international drug trade.
  8. Triple7
    Most of the yaba is made in Burma. There are no muslim provinces next to burma. If something could come from Malaysia, then it is Ganja I guess. Another guess is heroin could come from Afghanistan via Malaysia. But yaba is lot more popular than heroin in Thailand. So the number 40% must be a lot exagarated. Once a while (weekly?) there are news about someone with huge sack of hundreds of thousands of yaba pills getting busted.

    Thailand is a very popular tourist destination, but there are heavy issues. Buildings are bombed by separatist. Wild shootings at muslims (see youtube). No wonder they say drugs come from there.

    (Something for American interest, is that there is gas and oil industry in Malaysia.)
  9. fonogoodreason
    for those who don't know, Thaksin Shinawatra is also chairum of man city football club (machester uniteds city rivals) in the uk
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