ASIAN PEACE ALLIANCE: No to Impunity in Thailand, No to Impunity in the World

The Asian Peace Alliance (APA) strongly condemns the indefensibly brutal dispersal and arrest of protesters which has killed 85 people and injured hundreds on October 25 in southern Thailand.

The APA is a broad coalition of peace activists, human rights organizations, political parties, religious, women’s and youth organizations in Australia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India.

Six were killed after the Thai military deliberately and indiscriminately fired at demonstrators after using tear gas and water cannon to disperse the unarmed crowds; 78 died from suffocation, heatstroke, and beatings after 1,300 arrested protesters were piled up on top of each other in up to three
layers and forced to fit into just four trucks. This has been the most vicious use of state violence in Thailand and in the region in years.

An atmosphere of impunity and brutality has descended upon the country: Up to 2,800 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed under the government-sponsored “war on drugs.” Seventeen activists have been murdered or "disappeared" and the government has done little to pursue the cases.

Exacerbating the climate of fear and repression has been the Prime Minister's assault on Thais' freedom of expression as well as his unrelenting tirades against Thai civil society. Under the current government, Thailand has lapsed into a nominally democratic state with an increasingly unchecked authoritarian and repressive streak.

With over 350 now dead since March, the outbreak of violence in southern Thailand now threatens to escalate into a full-blown conflict. Should that happen, the responsibility would fall squarely on the Thai government. Instead of addressing the marginalization of people in the south, Thaksin and the Thai military have instead chosen to unleash the full force of the
military to quell people’s demand for respect and equality.

This blatant disregard for human rights in Thailand is not isolated. Around the world, a culture of impunity and contempt for law is being entrenched, as most clearly manifested by the ease and ruthlessness with which
international law has been violated by the United States in its illegal occupation of Iraq as well as Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. The picture of piles of half-naked men, hands tied at the back and lying on top of each other, is reminiscent of yet another scandalous case of human rights violation that remains unpunished: Abu Ghraib. The shooting of innocent civilians in Narathiwat is all too reminiscent of another place: Fallujah.

We call for the full accountability for the intended or unintended killings and support calls for the establishment of a truly independent commission to look into and establish responsibility for the incident.

We call on our own government to take a stand and register its criticism of the actions of the Thai government.

We demand an immediate end to repression in southern Thailand.

We call on the Thai government to seek peaceful means to end the conflict so that ethnic, cultural and religious differences can be respected.

We stand in solidarity with all those who call for an end to impunity – be it by Bush or Thaksin.

We call for an end to the escalation of war, repression, and militarization – be it in Iraq, Palestine, or Thailand.

CALL TO ACTION

We call on all those committed to peace, justice, and human rights across Asia and around the world to show global condemnation of the killings in southern Thailand and oppose escalation of war and repression in the country.

We call for mass actions in front of Thai embassies in countries around the world.

We call for statements of condemnation to be sent to Thai authorities expressing global outrage at the killings.

We call for actions demanding that our own governments take a stand to denounce the killings.

ASIAN PEACE ALLIANCE
November 2004

Endorsed by:
All Together (Korea)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
Asian Peace Alliance - Japan
Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives (Hong Kong)
Focus on the Global South (India, Philippines, Thailand)
Gathering for Peace (Philippines)
Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (Philippines)
Pakistan Peace Coalition
Peace Camp (Philippines)
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy - Korea
Resource Center for People's Development (Philippines)
Simorgh Women's Collective (Lahore, Pakistan)
United for Peace - Chiang Mai (Thailand)
Working Group for Weapons Reduction (Cambodia)

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* If you wish to endorse this statement, please send your name, the name of
your organization and country, and your contact details to
herbert@focusweb.org

** If you're holding mass actions in front of the Thai embassy in your country, please send a report, preferably, with pictures to
herbert@focusweb.org.

*** Please fax and/or e-mail your statements to the Office of the Prime Minister at +66 2 6299205 and/or yongyut@thaigov.go. Please cc The Nation newspaper at letters@nationgroup.com and The Bangkok Post at postbag@bangkokpost.net, as well as herbert@focusweb.org. Below is a sample letter you can fax or e-mail.

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SAMPLE PROTEST LETTER

[Date]

To Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra:

We are [introduce your organization and mention your country].

We protest the killing of up to 85 people in southern Thailand last October
25, 2004.

We call for full accountability for all those responsible and support calls for the establishment of a truly independent commission to look into and establish responsibility for the incident.

We demand the immediate release of all those that are still being detained by Thai authorities.

We demand an immediate end to the repression and militarization in your country.

We demand respect for human rights and commitment to justice and democracy.

With all due respect,

[NAME OF INDIVIDUAL AND/OR ORGANIZATION]
[COUNTRY]