Wasant Techawongtham is former News Editor at the Bangkok Post. He has an interesting op-ed in that newspaper on the extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae.
He states that the young lad:
… must have been really stupid. He was a local Lahu boy. He knew where the military had set up their semi-permanent checkpoint. He had with him 2,800 tablets of ya ba, a knife and a hand grenade — all stuff that could put him in jail.
Yet he allowed himself to be driven through the checkpoint and expected to get away with it.
Not many op-eds in the military dictatorship’s Orwellian kingdom use irony like this. He continues: “Or maybe he wasn’t so stupid but was just unlucky to run into a group of overly aggressive soldiers.”
Then there’s this:
Another extra-judicial killing in the same vicinity as Chaiyapoom was killed has gone unnoticed and unreported until now.
Just a month earlier, a 33-year-old Lahu man, suspected of drug dealing, was gunned down by soldiers from the same unit involved in Chaiyapoom’s death. At the scene of his death, he was photographed holding a hand grenade of a similar type that was found by Chaiyapoom’s side.
Fancy that! What a surprise! Well, no, it isn’t.
It is the military and police who are trained in glorious stupidity. They are trained in violence, propaganda, crime (their crime) and lying. They are trained to come up with ludicrous “stories” to cover their crimes. They are trained to expect impunity for murders and torture committed for authoritarian regimes and in the name of protecting the monarchy. That “loyalty” allows them to enrich themselves and expect impunity for all their crimes, for the state and personal crimes.
And the military story just gets more and more stunning. These dolts have been gradually overlaying a story that gets darker and darker. Having earlier stated that they “knew” Chaiyapoom was involved with drugs, the “army has revealed the Lahu activist who was fatally shot by a soldier last Friday in Chiang Mai was involved in the drug trade for more than a year.”
They now claim a different story at the scene of the killing:
Based on the footage of a CCTV camera at the scene, soldiers who checked the vehicle were not armed, Lt Gen Vijak said, adding they simply questioned the men inside the car and checked their identification cards.
As the suspects were acting suspiciously, the soldiers asked them to get out of the vehicle, he said, adding that one of them fled and tried to fight, prompting another armed security team to respond.
No mention of CCTV was made previously, no one else has seen it, and the nature of the stop is now changed too. And the “knife” seems to have “disappeared” from the story.
When asked how he believed the activist [Chaiyapoom] managed to procure the grenade, Lt Gen Vijak said similar Chinese-made devices can be found along the Thai border.
Or maybe it was recycled by the military.
But here’s the thing. Even if the kid was the “stupid” and brazen “drug dealer” that the military asserts, this does not justify his killing. But this is the (in)justice system at its worst.