Thaksin’s War on Drugs: How HRW & AFP made-up 1,000s killed



Mark Twain says, quote: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”

On Thaksin’s Drug War, most news outfit says:

  • …In February 2003, the Thai government, under then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, launched a ‘war on drugs’, purportedly aimed at the suppression of drug trafficking and the prevention of drug use. In fact, a major outcome of this policy was arbitrary killings. In the first three months of the campaign there were some 2800 extrajudicial killings…

About 10 years ago, in 2003 the globe was outraged at Thaksin’s Drug War, if what that news media says, is the indicator.  From The Washington Post to The Times, all were highly critical of Thaksin’s Drug War. For example, the Bangkok Pundit Blog, reported:

  • Der Spiegel:

The government’s campaign against Thailand‘s drug mafia claimed at least 2,275 lives within a few months.

  • Washington Post in June 2003:

In Thailand, Thaksin began a new round in his campaign against drugs in February and ordered police “to produce results at any cost.” The goal was to “eradicate all drugs in Thailand.” This three-month campaign resulted in 2,275 deaths.

  • The BBC:

The death toll in Thailand’s controversial war on drugs now stands at 2,275, Thai police said on Wednesday.

  • Arabnews:

Thaksin’s drug war left some 2,275 suspected drug offenders dead in apparent extrajudicial killings over four months in 2003.

  • IPS:

The consequences of those words became disturbingly clear early on in the anti-drug drive. During the first three months of that ‘war,’ which began in February that year, over 2,275 people were killed.

  • The Guardian:

…than the government-endorsed ‘war on drugs’ that saw in excess of 2,275 people killed in Thailand during a three-month period in 2003.

  • Soros Foundation:

The Thai government crackdown began in February 2003 for the official reason of curbing the trade in methamphetamine tablets, locally know as ya baa or “crazy pills.” Within three months, an estimated 2,275 drug suspects were shot dead.

  • The Times (UK):

HRW claims that the most disturbing of these came during the notorious “war on drugs” when more than 2,275 people were killed during a three-month period at the beginning of February 2003.

So the conclusion, from most of the global press, is that Thaksin’s Drug War killed 1,000s of innocent victims. However, could the likes, from The Washington Post to the Times be wrong? Could the 1,000s of killed innocent civilians, attributed to the Thaksin’s Drug War, been “FAKE NEWS?”

Is Mark Twain right?


10 Years of Thaksin Impunity?

If the news, that Thaksin’s drug War killed 1,000s of innocent people, is “Real News” and not just “Fake News” what should be done with Thaksin?

(Up-Dated) I have sent this investigative journalism report to Human Rights Watch and AFP, hoping for some action from them or at least a response to this report. I am still waiting.

The Red Shirts have taken the former Thai prim minster Abhisit crack-down on the red Shirts protesters that killed about 100 protesters, to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Red Shirts charge against Abhisit, for those 100 killed protesters, is “Crime Against Humanity.”

Last year in Thailands, as the Red Shirts petition the ICC heated up politics in Thailand, Abhisit responded, by also going to the ICC. Abhisit responded to the ICC situation on him by raising the issue of Thaksin’s Drug War killings. So in 2012, about 10 years after the War on drugs, Abhisit made a great many statement that the Democrat Party, was going to file charges of “Crime Against Humanity” on Thaksin, at the ICC. Then Abhisit, also went to meet the victims of the Thaksin War on Drugs, and then together with the press community, raised the issue of Thaksin’s Drug War.

  • For example, The Nation, a newspaper here in Thailand, reported in 2012:

‘Drug war’ death to go to The Hague

The Nation August 8, 2012 1:00 am

A network of police-brutality victims yesterday requested help from the Democrat Party in filing complaints with the International Criminal Court over the death of a teenage boy at the hands of Kalasin-based police during the first Thaksin Shinawatra government’s “war on drugs”.

A Thai court recently convicted the officers of killing 17-year-old Kiattisak Thitbunkhrong in 2004.

The groups are led by an aunt of Kiattisak. She said she and several other members would be joint complainants in a number of lawsuits against Thaksin filed by the Democrat Party.

Democrat secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on said a briefing would be held next week to report on the progress of the party’s own efforts to lodge complaints and get compensation from the Yingluck government.

The network’s Phikul Phormjan said more than 300 unidentified bodies had been found along the Thai-Cambodian border, and that a number of them were believed to be members of the Lahu hilltribe. It is believed they might be victims of police brutality during the Thaksin’s notorious crackdown on suspected drug dealers.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomal-yasut said many of the 2,559 people killed during the crackdown were murdered by police, and their relatives deserved full compensation of Bt7.75 million – the amount given to families of red shirts killed during violent protests in Bangkok two years ago.

  • Also, The Nation, in an Editorial also said:

Injustice for Thaksin? The drug-war dead must weep

By Tulsathit Taptim

Dear former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra: This is not a letter from hell. However, it doesn’t matter where I live, or to be exact, where I’m drifting.

Just wanna say “Hi”, although you surely don’t even know me. We have something in common despite the big difference between us: I’m dead, literally, and you’re still alive.

I have been a wandering ghost since police gunned me down in 2003, and I guess you, too, now know how it feels to be a drifter. Again, having to float from one spirit house to another in search of boiled eggs is a far cry from dining and lunching at Harrods or having the world’s best roasted duck every other day. But I just want to give you my sympathy all the same.

Yes, the asset freeze is so unfair. What laws did they use to do that to you? Where’s the evidence of corruption? Do the rights of suspects mean nothing to them? I mean, they haven’t even formally charged you, for crying out loud.

The same happened to me – well, more or less. Just as you were targeted because you were rich, I was picked on by the police because I was poor. I matched their drug-peddler stereotype – aggressive behaviour, a long record of petty crime and possibly having been seen a couple of times with well-known dealers – and the rest is history.

That I was innocent is not the most important point. Should they have done that to me even if I had been selling amphetamines? It could have been an honest mistake on my part, you know. I have come across a few restless spirits like myself who were killed simply because of their past drug records. We deserved formal charges and thus the opportunity to defend ourselves in court, just like you did in 2001 when they tried to “dig up” your past mistakes.

At least you have great lawyers, and I wish you all the best. I didn’t stand a chance back in 2003 – not after the most powerful man at the time gave the police a virtual green light. I still remember what he said: “Because drug traders are ruthless to our children, so being ruthless back to them is not a bad thing … It may be necessary to have casualties … If there are deaths among traders, it’s normal.”

I’m not sure which is worse: what happened to you under a military junta or what they did to me under a democratic government. But then again, I was a small, ordinary citizen. If the rulers deemed my death acceptable collateral damage in a noble campaign, what can I say? I’m just a nameless and faceless bit in human-rights reports, and the likes of me are worth mentioning in Western-media editorials only when we drop like flies.

So much self-pity from me, but you’ve got to understand I didn’t have an opportunity to say a word before I died. Some columnists and newspaper editorials did mention the plight of people like me, but the journalists didn’t fare much better when that man was in power. I remember authorities initiated a secret probe into many senior journalists’ bank accounts and defended the action by citing an anonymous tip-off letter. Do you think that’s democratic or “fair” to them?

Well, I’m here to express my sympathy and thus don’t want to heap too much upon you. I haven’t heard you say sorry about the slain drug suspects even once, but I always assume that’s because you’re busy. Before I drift away, I offer my heartfelt support. This isn’t supposed to happen to anyone. Everybody – big or small, rich or poor, powerful or powerless – should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

But deep down, I believe you will be fine. Even the “unfair” process they apply against you involves subcommittees, committees, lawyers, prosecutors and soon the courts, not to mention the watchful eyes of the local and foreign media. My fate was determined by a blacklist and police on a shooting spree.

Your worst-case scenario is a longer European vacation, a missed chance to own a British football club and a loss of appetite for Peking duck. I’m still having to raid spirit houses every day and cry every night for my rudderless family members.

Yes, the world is so unjust. I wish you the best of luck in telling everyone about the injustice befalling you. And no need to spare a thought for me, because I was as worthless as dead both before and after I died.


Outraged Globe vs The Thai People:

It was 2003, a few months after the Thaksin Drug War started, and the globe was outraged at the number of killed innocent people, factual or not factual. The mostly anti Thaisin and pro Elite Establishment Thai press was equally outraged. In sum, Thaksin’s Drug War, proved highly damaging to Thaksin as the globe was flooded with anti Thaksin news.

  • Yet  at the height of all the local and global outraged, there were several polls of the Thai people, and the result of every poll, said about 70% to 80% of the Thai people supported Thaksin’s Drug War.

In fact, after that series of poll of the Thai people, Thaksin, ignoring all local and global outraged, said the War on Drugs was being won.

  • Why was that?

Why did the Thai polls say Thais supported Thaksin’s War on Drugs?

At about 2003, I was working in the E-Sarn region of Thailand, as a major resort manager. E-Sarn is a region, that Thaksin is strongly supported by the Thais. As a major resort manager, I often had to attend local government functions. If you know Thailand, up-country in the provincial area, it is these local government officials that have the political power, and one of the powers is to recommend police officer to higher ranks. In sum, in going to these local government functions, I often run into police officers. And as the Thaksin Drug War was a hot topic of discussion, I often had discussion with the police about Thaksin’s Drug War.

  • From my talking to many police officers, some high ranking, the War on Drugs was something, not only being pushed by Thaksin, but the public also wanted the drug problem stopped.

It is difficult to communicate Thailand’s Drug Problem, around the year 2003, to outsiders. As a the manager of a major resort, with 400 workers, many who were young workers, nearly every Friday and Saturday night, there was a road accident involving the workers , drunk or drugged related. Death and injuries, of workers at the resort I managed, from drug related incidents, was normal.

Overall in Thailand, not many people will remember the facts surrounding the Thaksin Drug War anymore, but for months, leading up to Thaksin’s decision to launch the Drug War, were news on TV, practically every day, of some deranged person on drugs, holding a hostage, at knife or gun point.

Again, believe it or not, news of some deranged drug user was on the TV news practically every day, sometimes, more than one case in a day, and very often, the incident, is broadcasted live on TV.

Literally speaking, there are no polls to support it, but arguably, most Thai people were sick and tired of the drug problem, and wanted the government to stop the drug abuse problem.


Crazy Medicine: A Background!

Why have the Thais came to the point of supporting Thaksin’s Drug War, which at that time, has a reputation of being a “Bloody War?”

  • Global Security reports:

Thailand’s War on Drugs

According to Thai military officials, the foremost threat to Thailand’s national security — greater than any since the communist insurgency of the 1970s and early 1980s — lies along the northern border. It consists of a mass of highly addictive methamphetamine pills, (known locally as ya ba, which translates to “crazy medicine”) produced in Myanmar for the Thai market by the United Wa State Army (UWSA), minority insurgents at present in a cease-fire agreement with Yangon.

In January 2000, both then Royal Thai Army (RTA) commander General Surayud Chulanont and Thai Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Mongkol Ampornpisit inspected troops along the northern border. They were followed in early February by General Boonlert Kaewprasit, head of the RTA’s Narcotics Suppression Committee, who, after a three day tour of the (northern) Third Army Region stated that: “The situation is now quite critical and decisive action inevitable.”

The impact of methamphetamine abuse in Thai society over the past several years has reached crisis proportions. From an early user-base among sugar cane workers and long distance truck-drivers, Myanmar- produced methamphetamine has spread to infiltrate homes, schools, offices and factories throughout the country. The pandemic of ‘ya ba’ has left in its wake a widening swathe of organized crime, official corruption, street violence and broken families. The impact among youths and students has been most severe. A September 1999 survey of 32 of Thailand’s 76 provinces, including Bangkok, found that 12.4 per cent of youth in secondary and tertiary education were either using or dealing drugs and nearly 55 per cent of that group were using methamphetamines.

A variety of insurgent groups inside Myanmar are involved in various drug production and trafficking activities. However, it is believed that all of the methamphetamine tablets smuggled into Thailand last year were produced in areas controlled by the UWSA. RTA. Some reports have stated that up to a billion tablets were smuggled into Thailand in 2003 from UWSA labs in Myanmar.

The government estimates that three million Thais, or five percent of the population are methamphetamine users. Prime Minister Thaksin’s war against drugs produced some results. Between February and August 2003, over 51,000 arrests and 2000 extra-judicial deaths have occurred, causing worry among human rights watchers. Thaksin is still unsatisfied with the results and has threatened harsh action against Wa drug traffickers if Burma does not act. In addition, scandals have also brought police corruption to the public forefront; an issue in which Thaksin must contend. After five months of closure, borders reopened with Burma, but differences remain over boundary alignment and the handling of ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities, especially illicit transfer of drugs.

Thailand’s War on Drugs “victory” is temporary. PM Thaksin’s campaign has decimated the drug market at the local drug trafficker and street-user level, but it has not reduced cross-border trafficking or attacked the drug trade’s higher elements. Additionally, his battle against “Dark Influences” has been ineffective, with few arrests of note. Thailand’s King has even tactfully admonished PM Thaksin for his ebullient trumpeting of a victory, when in fact the war is far from over. Burma and Laos are still major contributors to Thailand’s drug problem, and most major Thai druglords remain free. In fact, traffickers have simply changed routes or are storing their product in border areas awaiting a time for safe shipment. While Thaksin’s “war” has had a major impact on Thailand’s drug problem, it should be viewed as a relatively successful campaign in a long war, and not as a victorious end to the war itself.

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, while highly praising the prime minister, also called him to task during the King’s birthday speech. The King requested a full inquiry into all drug related deaths – a request celebrated by Human Rights and Health agencies. However the investigation is not going to be conducted by an independent source, so it is widely believed that the police and government agencies will be exonerated. The King also tactfully attempted to tell the PM that, while victory may be claimed, the drug war is far from over. PM Thaksin accepted the admonishment as a learning tool and promised to execute the King’s wishes. Prime Minister Thaksin has initiated talks with Burma and Laos to discuss more stringent border control measures.

While these country’s leaders are publicly accepting many of the plans for stemming drug flow from their countries, very little implementation has actually occurred. This has caused the PM to vacillate between rage at Burma and full support for Burma’s junta, much to the dismay of the United States. Additionally, drug production in these countries did not stop for Thailand’s war on drugs, though cross border trafficking was severely curtailed. According to some sources this resulted in around 800 million yaba tablets being stored along the Thai/Burma border waiting for the anti-drug pressure to subside. PM Thaksin has also begun a second war, this one a war on dark influences, aimed at eliminating the high level drug traffickers and the government personnel protecting or backing them. This war has had very few published successes as the financial and political backing of these influential people is deeply intertwined with Thaksin’s own government. His second war will take much longer and show no clear, quantifiable victory, but, if successful, will do more to defeat drug use in the long run, than his war on drugs did. he PRC has suffered an explosion of heroin abuse (and AIDS) as a result of high-grade heroin smuggled from Kokang and the Wa Hills, through southwest China to Hong Kong, Taiwan and North America. In early 1994, UWSA Chief Pao You-chang was reportedly summoned to Kunming, Yunnan’s provincial capital, for a stern warning from Chinese security officials on keeping narcotics out of the PRC.


The Wikipedia on Thaksin’s Drug War:

While the picture of some drug crazed holding hostage went on TV, often live broadcasted, practically every day, finally the Thai King stepped into the situation. Then Thaksin stepped in.

  • Wikipedia reported:

Thaksin initiated several highly controversial policies to counter a perceived boom in the Thai drug market, particularly in methamphetamine. Earlier policies like border blocking (most methamphetamine is produced in Myanmar), education, sports, and promoting peer pressure had proved ineffective. In a 4 December 2002 speech on the eve of his birthday, King Bhumibol noted the rise in drug use and called for a “War on Drugs.” Privy Councillor Phichit Kunlawanit called on the government to use its majority in parliament to establish a special court to deal with drug dealers, stating that “if we execute 60,000 the land will rise and our descendants will escape bad karma”.[78]

On 14 January 2003, Thaksin launched a campaign to rid “every square inch of the country” of drugs in three months.[79] It consisted of changing the punishment policy for drug addicts, setting provincial arrest and seizure targets including “blacklists”, awarding government officials for achieving targets and threatening punishment for those who failed to make the quota, targeting dealers, and “ruthless” implementation. In the first three months, Human Rights Watch reports that 2,275 people were killed, almost double the number normally killed in drug-related violence.[80][81] The government claimed that only around 50 of the deaths were at the hands of the police, the rest being drug traffickers who were being silenced by their dealers and their dealers’ dealers. Human rights critics claimed a large number were extrajudicially executed.[82][83] The government went out of its way to publicize the campaign, through daily announcements of arrest, seizure, and death statistics.

According to the Narcotics Control Board, the policy was effective in reducing drug consumption, especially in schools, by increasing the market price.[84]

King Bhumibol, in a 2003 birthday speech, praised Thaksin and criticized those who counted only dead drug dealers while ignoring deaths caused by drugs.[85]

“Victory in the War on Drugs is good. They may blame the crackdown for more than 2,500 deaths, but this is a small price to pay. If the prime minister failed to curb [the drug trade], over the years the number of deaths would easily surpass this toll.[86]

Bhumibol also asked the commander of the police to investigate the killings.[87] Police Commander Sant Sarutanond reopened investigations into the deaths, and again claimed that few of the deaths were at the hands of the police.

The war on drugs was widely criticized by the international community. Thaksin requested that the UN Commission on Human Rights send a special envoy to evaluate the situation, but said in an interview, “The United Nations is not my father. I am not worried about any UN visit to Thailand on this issue.”[88]

After the 2006 coup, the military junta appointed a committee to investigate the anti-drug campaign.[89] Former Attorney General Kanit Na Nakorn led the committee. Concerning the committee’s results The Economist reported in January 2008: “Over half of those killed in 2003 had no links to the drugs trade. The panel blamed the violence on a government ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy based on flawed blacklists. But far from leading to the prosecutions of those involved, its findings have been buried. The outgoing interim prime minister, Surayud Chulanont, took office vowing to right Mr Thaksin’s wrongs. Yet this week he said there was insufficient evidence to take legal action over the killings. It is easy to see why the tide has turned. Sunai Phasuk, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, a lobbying group, says that the panel’s original report named the politicians who egged on the gunmen. But after the PPP won last month’s elections, those names were omitted.”[90]

While he was opposition leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva accused Thaksin of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the campaign. After being appointed Prime Minister, Abhisit opened an investigation into the killings, claiming that a successful probe could lead to prosecution by the International Criminal Court. Former attorney-general Kampee Kaewcharoen led the investigation and the investigation committee was approved by Abhisit’s Cabinet. Abhisit denied that the probe was politically motivated. Witnesses and victims were urged to report to the Department of Special Investigation, which operated directly under Abhisit’s control.[80][91][92] As of the August 2011 parliamentary elections, Abhisit’s investigation failed to find or publicize any conclusive evidence linking Thaksin or members of his Government to any extrajudicial killings.


Bangkok Pundit:

Debunking Thaksin Drug War Killings

Against the Wikipedia, we have a lone blogger name, Bangkok Pundit, who questioned the validity of the Tkaksin War on Drug news. Particularly, Bangkok Pundit noted AFP and HRW behavior.

  • The Bangkok Pundit Blog reported:

The Times (UK):

HRW claims that the most disturbing of these came during the notorious “war on drugs” when more than 2,275 people were killed during a three-month period at the beginning of February 2003.

COMMENT: Ok, so it is clear that HRW is the source, but where did they get the 2,275 figure from?

HRW in October 2004:

Between February and May 2003, some 2,275 suspected drug offenders were shot dead in Thailand in apparent extrajudicial executions.

COMMENT: No actual source for the claim that “2,275 suspected drug offenders were shot dead”.

HRW in a long report on the war on drugs

In the first three-month phase of the crackdown that began on February 1, 2003, the Royal Thai Police reported that some 2,275 alleged drug criminals had been killed.14 Most were shot with handguns.…

[14] “Death toll in Thailand’s drug war hits 2,275, say police,” Agence France-Presse,

COMMENT: Argh, we have a source. HRW didn’t diligently try to calculate the figures themselves, they relied on an AFP report.

Unfortunately, I can’t find that specific AFP article online which I can link to (there is another AFP article though below). The relevant paragraph is:

While police are unable to say how many of the killings are drug-related, the national murder tally has been widely used as a proxy figure for the number of deaths resulting from the no-holds-barred battle against traffickers.


According to police figures released in mid-April — and not updated since then following the furore that greeted their release — 2,275 people were killed nationwide from the start of the war.

While it is not known how many were drug-related killings, the toll was widely seen as an indicator of an alarming number of deaths resulting from the no-holds-barred battle and sparked an outcry from human rights groups.

COMMENT: Yes, you read that correctly. Police figures never stated that 2,275 were killed directly by the police or as a total figure in the “war on drugs”. It is simply the total number of homicides for the 2 and a half months. So for HRW’s figure of 2,275 to be correct it would mean (a) that there were non-drug related homicides in Thailand in that period, and (b) all drug-related homicides where extra-judicial killings. The odds of that happening would be astronomical. In which parallel universe would the total homicide rate be seen as the drug-related homicide rate. HRW’s figures are inflated and wrong. The police said that themselves as the BBC reported:

…only 1,329 Thais died over drugs, arguing that the other 1,300 killings had nothing to do with the illegal trade…

Police General Sant said that based on the inquiry, 72 people died as a result of extra-judicial killings.

COMMENT: HRW even published this figures in their report:

In October 2003, Thailand’s foreign minister told the U.S. State Department that 2,593 homicide cases had occurred in the country since the previous February, more than double the normal level of about 400 homicides per month.15 On December 15, 2003, after the end of the first phases of the campaign, the Royal Thai Police reported 1,329 drug-related homicides (out of 1,176 separate incidents) since February, of which seventy-two (in fifty-eight incidents) had been killed by police. More than 70,000 people allegedly involved in the drug trade were arrested.

COMMENT: If 70,000 people were arrested, is this not evidence there was not a de facto shoot to kill policy as some have claimed? If the homicide rate doubled from 400-800, the 1,329 drug-related deaths figure starts to be a more accurate number than the 2,275 figure. What about the Thai Police’s statement they were only responsible for 72 deaths? Why have those figures never found their way into all the newspapers? Ok, because it doesn’t paint Thaksin as sufficiently evil enough.

NOTE: I disagree with the BBC’s use of the word extra-judicial killing it is a translation of วิสามัญฆาตกรรม which actually equates to justifiable homicide. Now, obviously police claims of justifiable homicide/self-defence should be investigated to see if there is any substance to them, but it is not the same as extra-judicial killings which has different connotations.

Finally, AFP who were originally the source of HRW’s 2,275 figure later quote HRW and make the same mistake:

The government’s drugs campaign started in February 2003 with some 2,275 extrajudicial killings in the first three months, according to the US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

COMMENT: Let that be a lesson, don’t quote a source who earlier quoted you. Otherwise, you you will turn like the AFP!


A Conversation


Bangkok Pundit, John Ungpakorn & HRW

A few years back, on Twitter, I got into an argument with John Ungpakorn, a famous NGO who is anti Thaksin, on the question of the Thaksin’s Drug War.

Finally, after about 10 minutes of back and fourth calling the other names, I told John to please go and read Bangkok Pundit.

John, to my surprised, who about ten minutes earlier was saying Thaksin killed 1,000s, after reading Bangkok Pundit, said to me quote: “The real figure of the killing is probably between 10 to 30 people.”

Perhaps by sheer chances of co-incident, Bangkok Pundit was on twitter, and saw the exchange between John and me, and joined in.

Bangkok Pundit said, quote: “I am against the Drug War, but if we are going to talk about what occurred, it must be facts that can be back-up by reason and logic.”

After that Twitter conversation with John Ungpakorn and Bangkok Pundit, I went to HRW twitter, and I asked them to respond to Bangkok Pundit’s writings.

HRW never responded to my inquiries.


Thaksin Goes on Defense:

Towards the end of 2003, after months of news of 2,400 innocent people being killed by Thaksin’s Drug War, Thaksin came out and defended what most news said was a “Bloody Drug War.”

  • Reuters, for example, on December 3, 2003, reported the following:

Shrugging off accusations that police had been encouraged to act outside the law; Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday declared a bloody 10-month war on drugs a success, saying it had crippled the business.

He said the campaign, in which more than 2000 suspected traffickers and peddlers were killed, had rid the country of a threat to its social fabric.

“We have done quite a good job in less than a year on a problem left to fester for 20 years,” he said. “Narcotics are now not a grave social and national menace as in the past. But we will not stop here. It will be a relentless, continuing campaign,” he said.

Thai and foreign human rights groups have accused police of killing suspected dealers, a charge the Government denies. It says most of the deaths resulted from dealers fighting each other.

Charun Ditha-appichai, from the National Human Rights Committee, said his committee had no objection to a war on drugs but it objected to the way it had been carried out.

So did Amnesty International. The London-based rights group said last month that the Thai Government appeared to have condoned the killings of suspected drug dealers as a way to win its war on drugs.

It said the Government had failed to bring anyone to justice for the killings, despite promises to investigate the deaths of 2245 people, most of them killed by unknown assailants during the campaign.

Mr Thaksin has denied consistently that police killed suspected dealers. In recent years, Thai police say, huge quantities of methamphetamines, commonly known as speed, have flooded out of Burma.

Police said they have arrested about 90,000 people on drug- related charges since the campaign started. But critics said the net caught few major traffickers.

Police and anti-narcotics officials said they had seized more than 40 million methamphetamine pills and assets worth 1.8 billion baht ($A61.7 million) from suspected dealers.


Final Analysis:

In the final analysis, did Thaksin War on Drugs lead to abuses? Certainly it did. In fact, the court have found a police general guilty of abusing his power.

  • The Jamaica Observer reports:

Thai Police Get Death Penalty in Drug-War Killing

Tuesday, July 31 2012

A Thai court yesterday sentenced three police officers to death for killing a teenager during a much-criticised drug crackdown by the government eight years ago.

The officers were found guilty yesterday of killing a 17-year-old student in Kalasin province in the northeast in 2004 and moving his body to conceal the cause of death.

The killing took place under former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s government, which declared a crackdown on the drug trade to stem an influx of methamphetamine. Rights activists allege it resulted in more than 2,000 extrajudicial killings.

The Criminal Court also sentenced a former deputy police district commander to life in prison for the boy’s murder and the former district commander was given a seven-year jail term for abuse of authority. One police officer was acquitted.

  • However, the abused by the Thaksin War on Drugs, is not in the 1,000s, and as John Ungparkorn says, perhaps numbers in the 10 to 30.

And thus what should be done, from here, to expose the whole situation?

Clearly, Thailand should investigate the Thaksin drug war abuse, but from a factual and realistic base, and not from an “Out of Reason and Outraged Base” as have been going on with most of the local and global press.

If the argument is that the drug dealers should have access to a “Just, Justice System” then at the same time, the argument should be that, Thaksin should also have the benefit of a “Just, Justice System” as the drug dealers have a right to.

The drug dealers, like Thaksin should not be a victim of “Prejudice.”

Some blogger exemplifies the type of prejudice that Thaksin often had to face, in his War on Drugs. The blogger says:

  • “Prime minister Thaksin had a great idea, he would declare a war on drugs and draw up a blacklist of names of people he didn’t like, namely the people who openly criticised him, uni students, professors, journalists, lawyers anyone. No drugs on them, just throw some pills on the ground by the body, take a photo, proof of crime worthy of summary execution. Police received twenty thousand baht, $700 US per body.”

Another blogger wrote, quote:

  • “It was indeed ten years ago this month that provincial police began to receive orders and lists from the central government concerning intransigent criminal elements to be liquidated. Professional “shooters” from the central police command were sometimes dispatched to areas that fell behind in their quotas. This solution to the rampant drug problem was widely popular across the political spectrum. It is interesting to note that while those in the police will acknowledge and even enthusiastically explain the necessity of such action (as well as championing its use again), they also vehemently deny that any “innocents” or local political enemies were added to the lists for liquidation.”


Lesson Learned?

When Mark Twain said, quote: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed” perhaps, he had a situation similar to the Thaksin’s Drug War in mind.

Bangkok Pundit Blog, is actually, quite a famous blog; perhaps, with 1,000s of readers. His writing on Thaksin’s War on Drugs, again perhaps, have been read by 1,000s even 10s of 1,000s.

Yet, the Thaksin’s War on Drug continues to haunt Thailand, like a “Bad Lie” that refused to “Come to Light.”

For example, in 2012, the Bangkok Post Editorial says, quote: Chill of a new ‘war on drugs’

  • The Bangkok Post reported:

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has taken over as the general in charge of the next big battle in the war on drugs. The old commander, Thaksin Shinawatra, is in no position to lead the charge again. What is remarkable about Mr Chalerm’s announcement of the next crackdown is its similarity to that of his mentor’s in Dubai.

Back in 2003, Thaksin warned the street peddlers and drug carriers to stop selling drugs or they would suffer the consequences. Mr Chalerm, in his TV appearance on Saturday, sounded much like Thaksin. It is alarming to hear Mr Chalerm predict again that drug dealers are going to die in the crackdown. It is depressing to hear how little progress has been made in nine years. When Thaksin, as a very popular prime minister, announced his war on drugs in 2003, he could talk tough. But the ex-police officer more than backed up his threats. He effectively cut the police loose from the rule of law. In the resulting nationwide “war on drugs” more than 2,600 people were killed. They included clearly innocent bystanders, as well as hundreds of suspected petty drug dealers, many of whom were undoubtedly a scourge on their neighbourhoods but still deserved their day in court more than a bullet to the brain.

Thaksin blithely told the country, and later an appalled world, that those killed during his crackdown died at the hands of drug gangs. He insisted then, and still does, that the gang leaders and “Mr Bigs” of Thailand’s drug trade were afraid that the street dealers would try to cut a legal agreement with the police, and therefore the gangs killed them before they could talk.

It is difficult to believe that even Thaksin believed such balderdash, though not many fellow citizens did. After nine years, innocent survivors of that police lawlessness still await justice. The United Nations and human rights groups still use Thaksin’s “war on drugs” to harm Thailand’s image.

It may not surprise everyone that in 2012 Mr Chalerm has repeated Thaksin’s tamperings with the truth. The deputy premier is both an avowed admirer of Thaksin and a public proponent of dealing swiftly with suspected drug dealers. It was chilling, however, to hear Thaksin’s so-called justifications out of Mr Chalerm’s mouth as he spoke of the upcoming campaign. Just like in Thaksin’s time, police would show restraint, even kindness. “Those involved in drug networks might be killed by drug gangs.” First we have the alibi, just in case later there is accusation of a crime.

Popular sentiment in Thailand is strongly against drugs and we should not have to suffer drug gangs or street peddlers. But Mr Chalerm’s renewed war on drugs sounds just like all the old battles – grab some minor neighbourhood drug sellers, and declare success. The gangs and Mr Bigs of drug trafficking will remain largely or entirely unaffected.

After decades of seeing jailed drug sellers continue their trafficking from inside prisons, the Department of Corrections is going to isolate such men in an attempt to stop drug peddling from within the jails. It is a simple, promising decision. In his war on drugs, Mr Chalerm should come up with a few imaginative steps of his own, to get at the root of drug abuse and trafficking. Otherwise, the war will simply continue, without visible progress and only more loss of life.

(Source: Bangkok Post, EDITORIAL, Chill of a new ‘war on drugs’, 31/01/2012, link)

One thought on “Thaksin’s War on Drugs: How HRW & AFP made-up 1,000s killed

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