Skip to comments.Thailand Says 78 Muslims Died in Army Custody
Posted on 10/26/2004 10:30:35 AM PDT by Destro
Thailand Says 78 Muslims Died in Army Custody
Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:05 AM ET
By Noppawan Bunluesilp
Thai soldiers apprehend hundreds of men after demonstrators clashed with police outside the Tak Bai police station in Thailand's Narathiwat Province, nearly 1150 km (715 miles) south of Bangkok, October 25, 2004. Almost 80 people died of suffocation in southern Thailand while being taken to detention at a military barracks after a violent demonstration, a justice ministry official said on Oct. 26. Photo by Stringer/Thailand/Reuters
PATTANI, Thailand (Reuters) - Almost 80 Muslims died in military custody in southern Thailand, suffocated while being transported in trucks to an army barracks after a violent demonstration, officials said on Tuesday.
Only six people were previously believed to have been killed when troops and police opened fire to quell a riot outside a police station on Monday in the restive, Muslim-majority region.
The huge leap in the toll, and the manner of the deaths, are bound to add to tensions. One local Muslim scholar accused authorities of gassing the victims and called it a massacre.
Justice ministry official Manit Sutaporn said 78 people died of suffocation, making it the bloodiest day in the Buddhist kingdom since April 28, when troops and police shot dead 106 machete-wielding militants, also in the south.
"We found no wounds on their bodies," Manit told a news conference in Pattani, a provincial capital 1,100 km (700 miles) south of Bangkok, of the latest deaths.
He said the victims were among hundreds of Muslim men arrested after a 1,500-strong rally was dispersed outside a police station in Narathiwat province.
The deaths appear to have occurred while the detainees, who were stripped semi-naked after their arrest, were being taken by truck to barracks in Pattani, a journey that took five hours, Major-General Sinchai Nutsatit told the news conference.
"We have never seen this sort of torture in Thai history before. It is just like gassing them," said Ahmad Somboon Bualuang, an Islamic scholar from the Prince of Songkhla University in Pattani province. "It is a deliberate massacre. They rounded protesters up and crammed them into closed trucks. They died from lack of air."
Troops and police fired live rounds, as well as water cannon and teargas, to end a six-hour standoff with the crowd, which was demanding the release of six villagers accused of handing over government-issue shotguns to Islamic militants.
Shots were also fired from the crowd, officials said, adding that some of the protesters were under the influence of drugs or were frail because of fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Six protesters died at the scene, and 20 people were injured.
"This is typical," Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said when asked about reports of scores dead. "It's about bodies made weak from fasting. Nobody hurt them." "DELIBERATE MASSACRE"
Human rights groups said the deaths in military custody raised alarming questions in the self-styled "Land of Smiles," where campaigners say basic civil rights are under threat from an administration increasingly known for intolerance.
One of Thailand's 11 National Human Rights Commissioners appeared less concerned.
"The government did not over-react. It has done the right thing," Pradit Charoenthaitawee told Reuters.
"These people are rebels, separatists with some help from foreigners. This part of the country has belonged to Thailand since our grandparents. We can't allow separation."
One reporter said he saw troops round up the protesters after 15 minutes of gunfire, forcing men to strip to the waist and lie face down with their hands behind their backs.
The soldiers led about 20 women and children in the crowd into the police station, and roped the men outside together. The reporter said some soldiers picked out suspected ringleaders and beat them with rifles and batons.
Soon after, the commander of the troops arrived and reporters were told to leave. They left before the protesters were herded onto trucks.
Security officials justified the use of force, saying they feared the police compound would be attacked.
Police also said they recovered seven automatic rifles, a pistol, four hand grenades and some machetes either dropped by demonstrators or thrown into a nearby river.
Security outposts have been common targets in the 10-month unrest that looks increasingly like a revived Muslim separatist movement in the deep south.
Thailand's three southernmost provinces are home to the majority of the country's Muslims, who make up 10 percent of the mainly Buddhist nation's 63 million people.
At least 440 people, including Buddhists and Muslims, have been killed in the unrest, which started in January when guerrillas raided an army barracks, killed four soldiers and made off with around 300 assault rifles.
With an election looming, Thaksin is under increasing pressure to resolve the trouble, which analysts fear could create a fertile breeding ground for militant networks such as Southeast Asia's al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah.
"It's all building up to the point where we're in serious danger of what is so far a rather serious law and order issue turning into a broader insurgency," said Steve Wilford of Singapore-based Control Risks Group.
Despite a curfew imposed in eight districts of Narathiwat province after Monday's unrest, militants set fire to a school building and burned tires on several highways.
Do they still get 72 virgins?
A small start.
The picture looks like MORE than 80 bodies. And spread over a wider area, than if dumped dead, from a truck.
Maybe they cure up better, spread just one layer thick.
The only way it will become clear that enough muslims have been killed, is when the muslims stop their terrorism and violent attempt to spread their political control.
Does that mean those murdering islamic swines will now kidnap and behead Thais, if any, in Iraq? Just think: maybe, just maybe, there's a Thai Hit Squad that will serve the islamics the same dish. Hehehehe!
What do you call 78 suffocated Muslim seperatists?
A good start.
6 are going to have to wait their turn....
A violent demonstration from the practitioners of the Religion of Peace TM? And then there is an outrage when they DIE? Violent confrontations often end in death.
"You knew the job was tough when you took it, Fred."
I don't believe that those are the dead bodies; I believe that those are the detained men. Note the armed guards keeping them on the ground. One man has sort of rolled on his side (near the camera man).
Coulda been B.O.
I remember reading about Muslims beheading Bhudusts in Thailand a few months back.
I agree, no need to stand guard if they're already dead.
Also too many have their hands up near their head.
Yes, but did they put panties on their heads?
Welcome to FR. This is your first post.
We can only take you at your word that you are A REPUBLICAN and A MUSLIM.
Nothing in your history offers any evidence.
No, you are a troll.
Since Oct 26, 2004
Sorry, mate, you can't be both, your claimed religion doesn't permit it. Islam demands theocracy under Sharia. Republicanism demands representative government and the protection of rights.
You are either very confused or a very bad liar.
You're also a newbie and full of crap.
The DNC-Kerry-CBS-NYTimes October Surprise has blown up their face.
You know that there is some fingerpointing that this wouldn't have mattered if 60Minutes had been permitted to break the story on Sunday night (too little to counter the claims). But Kerry and Clinton wanted to have a bombshell to drop in their stump speeches this week.
Hillary is an evil genuis.
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