Tak Bai incident
|Date||25 October 2004|
|Location||Tak Bai, Thailand|
On 25 October 2004, a demonstration of around 1,500 people gathered in front of a police station in Tak Bai to protest the detention of six men. Several hours into the protest, the crowd attempted to cross the police barrier into the station. Police responded with tear gas and water cannon, and the crowd responded by throwing rocks. Police fired into the air and then into the crowd at head height, killing seven.
Almost 1,300 protesters were detained at the scene; they were ordered to strip, lie on their bellies, and crawl to nearby trucks that would transport them to another site. Footage taken by journalists confirmed allegations against the military that many protesters were kicked and beaten with sticks even after complying with orders to lie on the ground.
The detainees were then stacked atop one another in trucks and transported to Inkayut Military Camp in Pattani Province. The drive took five hours, and by the time the trucks arrived at the destination, 78 detainees had died from suffocation or organ collapse.
On November 2, 2004, Jaran Torae, a Buddhist deputy police chief, was found beheaded in Narathiwat province. A handwritten note described the murder as retaliation for the deaths at Tak Bai. Several other killings of Buddhist village leaders and police officials were attributed to revenge for the incident.
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont gave a formal apology for Thaksin's policies in the south on 2 November 2006, and two days later, the charges against the surviving protesters were dropped. A 2009 inquest found that security officials had performed their duty without wrongdoing. Family members attempted to appeal the decision, but their appeal was denied in June 2012. As of October 2012, no charges had been filed against security officials involved in the deaths. In 2012, the Thai government offered reparations to family members of the victims.
The Bangkok Post called the incident a "tragedy" and "one of the worst blunders ever committed by the military in the restive deep South". Amnesty International protested what it called the "virtual impunity" for human rights violations in southern Thailand, calling for members of the security forces involved to be "brought to justice". In 2006, the Asian Human Rights Commission also called for prosecutions, stating, "After two years, the apology is welcome, but investigation and prosecution is imperative."
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