Amnesty International: Thai Authorities Must Act Now to Deliver Justice for Victims of the Brutal Protest Dispersal in Tak Bai

In October 2004, a peaceful gathering in front of the Tak Bai Police Station in Thailand’s troubled southern border province turned deadly. Approximately 2,000 people were protesting the detention of six Malay Muslim village defense volunteers. In response, security forces used tear gas, water cannons, and live ammunition, resulting in seven immediate deaths and numerous injuries. Later, 1,370 protesters were arrested, with 78 of them tragically dying during transportation to a military camp.

Amnesty International calls on the Thai government to act swiftly before the October 2024 statute of limitations expires and undertake the following actions:

To the Royal Thai Police:

  • Reopen the Investigation: Initiate a thorough investigation into the incident, utilizing existing findings and testimonies from various sources, including victims and their families.
  • Respect Human Rights: Ensure public assembly approaches adhere to international human rights laws, using force only as a last resort and strictly necessary.

To the Office of the Attorney-General:

  • Prosecution: Charge responsible officers, following international human rights law and fair trial standards.

To the Ministry of Justice:

  • Support for Victims: Provide necessary resources and information to aid victims and their families in seeking justice.
  • Training: Train law enforcement and military officials in relevant international human rights laws and standards.

To the Thai Government:

  • Reform Security Laws: Amend or repeal existing security laws, like the Martial Law Act and Emergency Decree, to ensure full human rights protection in the region and end impunity.
  • Civilian Policing: Ensure military officers are not involved in public assembly policing.
  • Legal Reforms: Revise laws, guidelines, and practices to align with international human rights standards.
  • Acknowledgment and Learning: Identify past mistakes, learn from them, and incorporate this knowledge into training for officials.
  • Gender-Inclusive Assessment: Conduct a human rights-based assessment of the Tak Bai incident, considering the specific needs of Malay Muslim women.
  • Preventive Measures: Adopt an approach that presumes demonstrations are peaceful, working to de-escalate situations and prevent the unlawful use of force against protesters.