Evidence submitted by the Army in the case of the summary execution of a Lahu activist is unusable, a defence lawyer has claimed. Although the trial in the killing of ethnic Lahu activist Chaiyapoom Pasae began over seven months ago, the court has not yet received the Army’s CCTV footage, critical evidence which recorded soldiers shooting the activist. According to Sumitchai Hattasan, the lawyer for Chaiyapoom’s family, the Army had already sent the CCTV hard disk to the police, but the file cannot be opened.
As a provincial court began the hearing on the case of the summary killing of a young Lahu activist by a soldier, the lawyer of the slain activist family said the prime evidence on the case might still be withheld by the military.
Police have raided the village of a murdered Lahu activist and arrested several of his family members in an alleged drug crackdown. On 29 May 2017, policemen and officers from the Narcotics Suppression Bureau arrested five people from Ban Kong Phak Ping in Chiang Dao District of Chiang Mai. Among the five is Chanthana Pasae, 20, a relative of Chaiyapoom Pasae, a young ethnic Lahu activist who was summarily killed by a soldier on 17 March.
Academics and ethnic minorities in northern Thailand have demanded protection for the relatives of a young Lahu activist summarily killed by a soldier and witnesses of the killing. A network of academics and a number of ethnic minority groups from Chiang Mai on 24 April 2017 issued a joint statement over the summary killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae, a young ethnic Lahu activist who was shot dead by a soldier on 17 March.
A month after the summary killing of a young Lahu activist by a soldier, the police have revealed that the military has not yet sent the CCTV footage of the crime scene to them. On 17 April 2017, Pol Col Mongkhon Samphawaphon revealed to BBC Thai that the police have not received CCTV footage at the checkpoint where the Lahu activist Chaiyapoom Pasae was killed on 17 March.
“The trigger gave; I felt the smooth underside of the butt; and there, in that noise, sharp and deafening at the same time, is where it all started. I shook off the sweat and the sun. I knew that I had shattered the harmony of the day...”, Albert Camus, L'Étranger.
Defending the soldier who shot dead a youth Lahu activist on suspicion of selling drugs, the national police chief said the activist could have shot soldiers. On 28 March 2017, at the National Police Headquarters in Bangkok, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, chief of the Royal Thai Police (RTP), announced that the police are now investigating the CCTV footage at the checkpoint where the Lahu activist Chaiyapoom Pasae was killed on 17 March.
Contrary to the claims of police, two Commissioners of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have found that the recently slain Lahu activist made his living from selling coffee beans not illicit drugs. On 25 March 2017, Angkhana Neelapaijit and Tuenjai Deetes of the NHRC visited the house of Chaiyapoom Pasae of the Lahu ethnic minority who was summarily killed by soldiers on 17 March on suspicion of selling drugs.
A police commissioner has concluded that a young Lahu activist summarily killed was a drug dealer and has warned people who criticise the authorities over the killing that they could face defamation charges. On 22 March 2017, Pol Lt Gen Poolsap Prasertsak, Region 5 Police Commissioner, announced that officers will investigate comments on social media about the summary killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae, a 17-year-old Lahu activist.
Behind the summary killing of a young ethnic minority rights activist lies a deep-rooted culture of impunity and discrimination against ethnic minorities long stigmatised as drug traffickers.