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detainees were then placed in oil drums, covered in oil and burned alive. The security officials denied the detentions and destroyed the physical evidence of the person. Students and villagers estimate that 3,000 people were killed in this way in Patthalung alone. The selection of those to be arrested, detained and killed was arbitrary. Those who worked for justice and drew public attention to the killings, received serious threats. However, their efforts lead to an investigation under the new democratic government in 1975, which found that Thai security officials were responsible for the murder of 300 Thai citizens. However, no action was taken, citing the need to maintain moral of the security forces. Haberkorn21 also documents state violence in the north of Thailand in the 1970s. Following the protests of October 1973, which ushered in a new democratic order, space opened up for political participation by a wide range of previously silenced actors, including farmers. As a result of their activism, a Land Rent Control Act was introduced in 1974. However, as farmers demanded its implementation they found themselves targeted by the state which used strategic assassinations to instill widespread fear. Haberkorn finds that ‚*b+etween March 1974 and September 1979, thirty-three farmer leaders were assassinated, eight were seriously injured and five were disappeared‛.22 Assassinations were particularly high in Chiang Mai province. Many believe that a right-wing para-state group – Nawaphon, was responsible for the assassinations, though, bar one, no assassin has been named and no prosecutions have taken place. Not only were the killings in Patthalung and Chiang Mai themselves serious violations of human rights, but the impunity that followed severed to weaken the rule of law in Thailand and has created the environment today, in which security officials view the killing of civilians as a legitimate method of policing. The killings in the north and south took place in a period of political unrest, as right-wing officials sought to retake control of the Thai State. In September 1976, students and others protested the return of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn who had been a military ruler ousted in 1973. On 6 October 1976, state and para-state forces attacked the protestors arresting up to one thousand, injuring hundreds and reportedly killing up to 100 people.23 A military coup took place simultaneously. No one has been held accountable for these killings and the events of 6 October remain veiled in silence. A memorial has been established on Ratchadamneonnok Road to commemorate the events of 14 October 1973 by the Government, under the 14 October Foundation. Periods of military rule and military coups continued to dominate Thai politics. It was under the National Peace Keeping Council-military government that in June 1991, Tanong Pho-an was disappeared. At the time of his disappearance, Tanong Pho-an was a senator, President of the Labour Congress of Thailand and Deputy Chairman of the International Council of Free Trade Unions AsiaPacific Regional Organisation and was campaigning against the military-government’s dissolution of

Haberkorn, T., ‚An Unfinished Past: Assassination and the 1974 Lant Rent Control Act in Northern Thailand‛, Critical Asian Studies, 41:1 (2009), 003-035, Routledge. 22 Haberkorn, T., ‚An Unfinished Past: Assassination and the 1974 Land Rent Control Act in Northern Thailand‛, Critical Asian Studies, 41:1 (2009), 003-035, Routledge. 23 Puey Ungphakorn, ‚Violence and the Military Coup‛, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Vol. 9, No. 3, JulySeptember 1977. 21

Enforced Disappearances in Thailand  

Enforced Disappearances in Thailand

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