It is depressing but not surprising that Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should express no remorse for the outrageous mass murder of Muslim demonstrators on Monday. "We have no choice but to use force against them," he said. Just to remind you, over 80 Thai-Muslim protesters were shot, kicked or suffocated to death when they were transported in crowded trucks from a protest site in Narathiwat’s Tak Bai district to an Army camp in Pattani.
Here is the Bangkok Nation’s account of the incident:
A photograph obtained by The Nation clearly shows a soldier lying on the ground firing his rifle horizontally, refuting the prime minister’s claim that security forces only fired into the air and not directly at protestors.
The incident happened after more than 3,000 Muslims, the majority of whom were youths, gathered early on Monday morning outside a police station in Narathiwat’s Tak Bai district calling for the immediate release of six village defence volunteers detained by the army for allegedly giving state-issued pistols to Islamic militants.
Citing fears that the situation could get out of control, the military decided to end the six-hour confrontation at about 3pm by firing water canon and tear gas at protestors, causing the stand-off to descend into chaos. The sound of gunfire was heard for about 10 minutes, said Nation photographer Charoon Thongnual, who covered the incident.
“Soldiers fired at below knee-level, targeting protestors hiding under a car,” Muhammad Ayuf Pathan, a reporter on the scene, told on-line Prachatham new agency. “They were killed and thrown onto army trucks. There were at least 14 dead bodies, that I could count,”
Another reporter said: “I saw at least three protestors kicked to death with my own eyes.”
Tak Bai resident Tuwaebosu found the body of his 30-year-old son lying dead under a car parked near the demonstration site. At least one Muslim woman was reportedly among the dead.
A photograph published in the Thai-language newspaper Matichon showed protestors were herded like animals as they were packed onto an army truck in layers. The authorities refused to reveal how many people were put into each truck.
A relative of Gifli Mama, 25, who doctors said died of suffocation, said that Gifli’s neck was broken and his face and body bruised, suggesting that he could have died before being put on the truck.
Another relative gave an account of an injured protestor, who is now hospitalised, that soldiers tied his hands together and threw him onto a truck. Two to three layers of prisoners were piled on top of him. Those at the bottom needed to push their foreheads against the ground to take in air.
When the truck reached the military base, the prisoners limbs numbed and unmoving, soldiers dragged them from the truck and kicked them, he said.
At least nine people are being treated at Pattani hospital for gunshot wounds, a hospital source said.