Thailand: Muslims Treated 'Like Cattle'

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At least 80 Muslims were massacred by the Thai authorities on 25 October.

Those killed were part of a 1,000 strong demonstration in the southern province of Naratiwart who had assembled to demand the release of those arrested on charges of stealing weapons from an army camp earlier this year.

It is widely believed that those in custody are innocent. After their arrest they were systematically tortured into giving 'confessions'. A leading Muslim defence lawyer was about to expose this torture and also many 'disappearances' of southern Muslims at the hand of the Thai police, when he himself was abducted and murdered by police.

The government of Thaksin Shinawatra clearly has blood on its hands. Last year it ordered police to kill over 2,000 suspected 'drug-dealers' without any trials or need for evidence. In the latest bloodbath, Thai security forces opened fire on a peaceful demonstration demanding the release of those held over the gun thefts. Firing directly into the crowd, the police killed at least seven people. Then they herded around 1,000 protesters onto army lorries, as if they were packing cattle on the way to the slaughter house. They then drove them for hours to a detention centre. At least 80 were dead on arrival. This can only be described as cold-blooded murder.

The Thai state annexed the three southern provinces of Naratiwart, Yala and Pattani, which formed part of the Pattani Sultanate, last century when the region was carved up by western imperialism. Ever since then the local Muslim population have been treated like second class citizens. They are forced to speak Thai at school and when dealing with oppressive officials and their culture and religion has never been respected by the Thai Buddhist state. This is the root cause of any opposition to the state today. When faced with demands for basic respect, the state has always responded with violence and lies.

This atrocity is just one more in a string of global crimes committed by Thaksin, Putin, Sharon, Bush and Blair under the pretext of 'the war on terror'. Socialists, trade unionists and social movement activists internationally must stand firm against this barbarity. This means giving our unconditional support for those struggling for justice, human rights and respect in southern Thailand.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn
Workers Democracy, Thailand