On the sixth anniversary of the tragedy on Monday October 25, the Foundation for Justice and Peace issued a statement saying that the incident had caused the biggest loss of lives by the authorities ever seen in the history of the three southernmost provinces. Although several governments in the past as well as the incumbent administration have tried to help out families of the deceased, injured and the survivors, there remains one thing that all the governments have failed to deliver – that is justice, said the foundation.
The foundation then demanded as follows:
- that the Office of the Attorney-General review the decision to not prosecute all the suspected blamed for the death of the victims;
- that the National Human Rights Commission pursue legal action against all the suspected officials on behalf of the families of the victims in accordance with Article 257 of the Constitution;
- that the Government metes out measures to protect witnesses who survived the incident so they would feel confident of their safety so they would be able to testify before the court;
- that the Thai society must learn a lesson from the incident of alleged human rights violation and of the use of force to break up a public gathering.
As far as the case regarding the death of 78 protesters, the Songkhla provincial court, in a ruling announced on May 29 last year to determine the cause of the deaths, said that all the 78 victims died of suffocation and that there was no evidence to suggest that they died of abuses by the authorities. As a result of the court’s ruling, the public prosecution decided to not prosecute the alleged suspects and this was approved by the governor.
As for 59 surviving protesters, the public prosecution agreed to drop all charges against them on November 6, 2006, on the ground that pursuing the case in the court would not good any good to the public and it might affect national security.
Civil suits to demand compensation from the authoritie and the state have all been withdrawn after both the state and the families of the victims agreed on an out-of-court settlement.
As for the seven other victims died in front of Tak Bai district police station, the public prosecution has stopped all the investigation about the case on the ground that it was unclear who caused their deaths.
Mrs Angkana Nilapaichit, chair of the working group for justice and peace, disclosed that most families of the dead victims are still grieved of the tragedy six years afterward.
A woman who lost her 14-year old boy in the incident said her boy would still be here with her today and would be able to help her out to make a living had he not been trucked to the Inkhayuth camp in Narathiwat.
The boy was made to lie face down at the bottom of several layers of people who were ordered by troops to pile up on one another at the back of the truck. He died of suffocation as did the other protesters.
Mrs Angkana said that most of the familes of the dead victims strongly felt that they were yet to be given justice. “There has been no answer from the state about why so many people died,” she added.
Yana Salaman who lost a son in the incident said most of the families had not followed up the case now because they didn’t think there was much hope for them.
As for the demand for compensation, he went on saying that most families had lost interest in it. But the pains are still being felt by most families six years on, he said.