Ordered to shoot indiscriminately?

10 09 2010

General Anupong

Not according to outgoing army boss General Anupong Paojinda, cited in The Nation: “Army commander General Anupong Paochinda said yesterday that no soldiers deployed during the red shirt rally in May were ordered to shoot indiscriminately…”. In fact, the idea of commanders ordering soldiers to fire indiscriminately at red shirt protesters seems an odd one.

It is true that some journalists claimed that soldiers fired indiscriminately and that some protesters said they felt like it was indiscriminate fire. We are not convinced that such statements amount to a claim that there were orders to do this. If such claims are made, it would seem odd to PPT.

In fact, for PPT, the more significant statement attributed to Anupong is that he would “take responsibility if there was any proof that shoot-to-kill orders had ever been given.” PPT does not know if such an “official” order was given, but the evidence is that soldiers were using war weapons that are meant to kill when deliberately targeted.

For example, Australia’s Age newspaper reported on 16 May 2010 that the “army has declared parts of Bangkok ‘live-fire zones’, saying that anybody – be they protester, resident, tourist or journalist – who enters certain roads in the capital will be shot on sight.” It added that: “Troops have erected signs at Bangkok’s Ratchaprarop area, on the northern edge of the red shirts’ protest camp, warning that anybody who enters will be fired on with live rounds.”

If readers return to PPT’s “Accounts of the Dead” series of May and June (here, here, here, here and here), all focus more on deliberate targeting of shots, sometimes by snipers. And this is a useful opportunity to review some of the available information and video clips on protesters targeted by well-armed soldiers:

At the time, the BBC referred to a policy of “containment by live fire.” Amnesty International said at the time that “Eye-witness accounts and video recordings show clearly that the military is firing live rounds at unarmed people who pose no threat whatsoever to the soldiers or to others…”. On 19 May, at 0826 GMT, the BBC reported that 1000 crack troops have been ordered to “shoot on sight” anyone inciting violence or committing arson. Pay special attention to the pictures and video clips here. Recall that the Times Online reported on a statement by Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd of CRES that said “Snipers will be deployed in the operation.” This was before the crackdown. Snipers are not usually used unless people are meant to be killed.

All-in-all, if Anupong really isn’t lying, it makes little difference, for the actions of his soldiers show they were shooting to kill.



One response

11 09 2010
Red shirt plans « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] ammunition at the protesters.” With such a blatant lie, all we can do is refer to PPT’s recent post on the topic; there’s more than sufficient evidence there to illustrate the colonel’s […]

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