war on drugs
Let us look at drug users through the doctoral research of Phrae Sirisakdamkoeng. When they violate all norms set by society, they have to hold onto other values instead to stay within the community. They have to talk to themselves and to God, adjust to their sins without throwing away their religion, when a drug user is more than a “druggie”, but also another human being.
The Supreme Court has dismissed the charges against 6 Kalasin police officers over the hanging of a 17-year-old youth, who allegedly stole a motorcycle during the drug war. It stated that witness testimony was unreliable, unconvincing and not credible, and gave the accused the benefit of the doubt.
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.
“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.
Not even a month after the summary killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae, a 17-year-old Lahu activist, on 17 March 2017, paramilitary officers and soldiers shot dead two insurgent suspects in the restive Deep South. The authorities claimed that the two resisted arrest and exchanged gunfire with the officers. However, the sister of one of the slain insurgent suspects said they were unarmed and shot point blank after they were asked to step out of their car.
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.
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.
More than ten years after the war on drugs wreaked havoc on many Lahu ethnic minority families in the hilly northern Thai-Myanmar border, arbitrary abuses and discrimination from Thai state authorities continue as they struggle to come to terms with their traumatic past.