Amnesty International calls for justice for Tak Bai victims
Amnesty International has demanded that Thai security forces responsible for the deaths of 85 Muslim protesters in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat eight years ago be brought to justice.
"It is shameful that no one has been brought to justice for these deaths, and that there is virtual impunity for other serious human rights violatons in the ongoing internal armed conflict in the south," said Isabelle Arradon, director of Amnesty International’s South East Asia programme in a press release to mark the 8th anniversary of the Tak Bai incident on October 25.
Ms Arradon said simply handing money to victims of human rights violations did not free authorities from their obligation to bring those responsible to justice and provide full reparations to those affected.
AI’s demand of justice for the Tak Bai victims rather than just reparations was echoed by relatives of several death victims in their interviews with Isra news team.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a relative said that reparations and justice are two separate issues. A victim who was arrested for involvement in the Tak Bai protest said that he had gone through the hardship of having to appear before the court for two years before his case was withdrawn by the public prosecution.
Families of each death victim were promised 7.5 million baht in reparations with the first instalment of 3.5 million baht already paid on August 17. As for those who were arrested and detained, they were each paid 32,000 baht in compensation after their cases were dropped six years ago.
Of the 85 death victims, seven were shot dead by security forces and another 78 were crushed or suffocated to death in army trucks while they were being transported from the protest site to a military detention centre.
As for the case regarding the seven deaths from shootings, the public prosecution has decided not to proceed with the case because it could not be determined who were responsible for the fatal shooting.
As for the case concerning the 78 deaths, the provincial court in Songkhla ruled in May 2010 that the victims died of suffocation and the case was eventually dropped.
The leadup to the 8th anniversary of the Tak Bai incident was marred by increased violence perpetrated by militant groups prompting Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa and Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha to visit the restive region.
During the visit, General Prayuth urged 66 state agencies which have a role in the restive region to be more pro-active in their responsibilities. He also appealed for more cooperation from the local people to provide information about the activities of the militants to the authorities.