More on the DSI’s leaked report

12 12 2010

Reuters has another story with some further details, adding to the material in an earlier post PPT had. In another post, PPT mentioned our concern that the culture of impunity will continue, with those responsible for the deaths claiming “shootings were committed in the line of official duty.”

There’s a ไทย version of the Reuters report here.

Andrew Buncombe, who was shot during the events and was at Wat Pathum Wanaram, has a story at the The Independent on Sunday:

Many of those trapped inside Wat Pathum that terrifying afternoon last May probably didn’t actually see who was responsible for turning a Buddhist temple into a killing ground. As the bullets flew, those unfortunate enough to find themselves at the front of the compound fled for safety wherever they could: behind trees, behind cars, crouched behind low brick walls. Their swirling emotions were a mixture of fear and astonishment.

A number of those who did manage to look up said they saw troops on the overhead railway, taking up positions and aiming weapons. And while everyone is aware of the abilities of Photoshop to distort or create an image, subsequent photographs published in those newspapers that had the courage to print them appeared to provide supplementary evidence of the presence of the soldiers.

I didn’t see who was firing that chaotic afternoon. When the bullets started, I was taking cover with everyone else and when I was struck, I was lying down on my side trying to take a photograph of the medical volunteers working on the injured. It was ironic that one of them would run across the concrete and drag me to safety. But even those who did not see the troops in action concluded they were almost certainly responsible for the shots that entered the temple.

Earlier in the week, soldiers had been casually spraying bullets at Red Shirt protesters armed with stones and fireworks elsewhere in the city. They didn’t seem to care that the protesters had taken up a position in a residential area and that the bullets of their M16s would likely travel a very long way.

Now we know that the troops responsible for shooting into Wat Pathum were not raw recruits but supposedly “élite” special forces. Even if, as they claim, someone was firing at them from the temple (and remember, no independent witness has come forward to verify this), did they not pause to think that their bullets might harm the innocent? Precisely what special training to these troops receive?

What also remains unclear is the intention of the soldiers. Are we supposed to believe someone struck by three bullets could be the victim of loose “covering fire”?

If, on the other hand, those shots were aimed, what was going through the minds of the soldiers as their sights came to pause on young female volunteers wearing shirts marked with large green crosses that in Thailand signify a medic? Or, for that matter, on journalists wearing green armbands that had been handed out for the media?

Although it confirms the deadly role of the troops, Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations report still leaves unanswered many of the most vital questions that were being asked in the immediate aftermath of 19 May. Who was in control that day and who gave the order to shoot? Did Thailand’s Prime Minister, Mr Abhisit [Vejjajiva], approve of these orders? What was his role? And what is he going to do about it now?

To refresh memories of the day, there is this video clip:

The Bangkok Post has some answers on Abhisit ‘s likely responses to the questions Buncombe and others raise. The report states: “The prime minister is still reluctant to accept that security forces could have played a role in killing civilians during the street clashes in April and May.” He says it is too early – after 7 and 8 months of investigation – to jump to any conclusions. He emphasizes that the leaked reports refer only to probability. The cases are far from over. Hang all of the video and images of troops firing, including deliberate targeting. He says that legal procedures have to be followed through the courts.

That’s true, but in virtually every human rights case brought against military and police in the past, impunity is the rule.



2 responses

12 12 2010
Tweets that mention More on the DSI’s leaked report | Political Prisoners in Thailand --

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by อิสระภาพ แห่งข่าวสาร, NEWSpace. NEWSpace said: More on the DSI’s leaked report: Reuters has another story with some further details, adding to the material in … […]

15 12 2010
Reneging on the emergency decree and DSI reports | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] second issue relates to the leaked reports said to be from the Department of Special Investigation. MCOT News reports that after first […]

%d bloggers like this: