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05BANGKOK3145 NATIONAL RECONCILIATION COMMISSION RELEASES FULL REPORTS FROM TAK BAI AND KRUE SE INCIDENTS

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003145

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, USPACOM FOR FPA HUSO

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM TH HUMAN RIGHTS NRC

SUBJECT: NATIONAL RECONCILIATION COMMISSION RELEASES FULL

REPORTS FROM TAK BAI AND KRUE SE INCIDENTS

 

REF: A) 04 BANGKOK 5360 B) BANGKOK 687 C) 04 BANGKOK

 

3111 D) 04 BANGKOK 2941

 

¶1. (U) SUMMARY: The National Reconciliation Commission

(NRC) recently released the complete texts of reports

authored by two government-authorized “Independent

Commissions” which investigated separate high casualty

incidents in 2004 in southern Thailand involving Thai

security forces. In April 2004, 32 armed insurgents were

killed at the Krue Se Mosque and 85 demonstrators were killed

at the Tak Bai Police Station in October 2004. No startling

new facts were revealed about either event. However, the

full reports do provide more details about the shooting of 7

of 85 demonstrators killed at Tak Bai and actions of military

commanders shortly after the crackdown began. Muslim leaders

generally reacted positively to the NRC’s release of the

reports but again voiced concern that promised compensation

to families of those killed has not been dispersed. The NRC

met again on May 9 to set up sub-committees to pursue

specific goals more systematically. END SUMMARY.

 

ONE YEAR LATER: THE (IN)-COMPLETE STORY OF APRIL 28, 2004 AND

KRUE SE MOSQUE

 

¶2. (SBU) After completing a three-day fact-finding trip in

Narathiwat Province on April 20, the 48-member NRC released

the complete texts of the reports from separate Independent

Commissions (authorized by the Thai government) on the

controversial Tak Bai and Krue Se Mosque incidents. During

the fact-finding trip, NRC members had been urged to release

these reports by religious leaders and families of victims

from the violence in the South, many of whom argued that

doing so would clear the air significantly. The NRC also

consulted with police and military officials in the South

(and perhaps the issue was discussed privately with the Prime

Minister). The Thai media aired the debate over the value of

releasing the full texts. On April 20, after a closed

session meeting of the NRC, Chairman and former Prime

Minister Anand Panyarachun appeared at a press conference and

provided copies of the 52-page Tak Bai report and the 38-page

Krue Se report to the media. “We insist on transparency,” he

said. English versions of the reports can be found on the

Internet site of The Nation newspaper at:

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/specials/takb ai.

 

¶3. (U) The Krue Se report covers only one of several violent

incidents that occurred in three different provinces on April

28, 2004. As noted in the report, “Some 100 militants staged

simultaneous assaults on seven targets in Yala, three in

Pattani, and one in Songkhla.” The full report provides

details about the weapons used by the militants and security

forces, names of persons involved on both sides and a

detailed timeline. This is in contrast to the four-page

summary report released on August 4, 2004 by the RTG. The

authors of the full report state that autopsies were not

performed on the bodies of the 31 militants killed by Thai

Special Forces at Krue Se Mosque. However, samples of body

fluids were taken and later tests concluded that no narcotics

or other “illegal substances” were present. (Note: This

appears to contradict an official RTG statement of April 29,

2004 stating, “the perpetrators were under the influence of

drugs and were instigated to resort to violence. It was

disclosed that those arrested were subject to urine test

(sic) and found to have taken drugs.” See Reftel C. End

Note.) The full report criticizes General Panlop Pinmanee,

Deputy Director of the Internal Security Operations Command

(ISOC), who ordered the raid on the Mosque, as well as

then-4th Army Commander General Pisan Wattanawongkhiri, for

failing to negotiate with the insurgents. “In their

negotiations with the militants, anti-riot forces conducted

no talks, but simply announced a series of warnings to

encourage surrender.”

 

SOME TAK BAI DEMONSTRATORS SHOT FROM A DISTANCE

 

¶4. (SBU) In contrast to the Krue Se report, the full Tak Bai

report is much more detailed and offers more specific

accounts and recommendations (Ref B). The full report

reveals that after examining the bodies of the demonstrators,

forensic scientist Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunan concluded that,

“it was clear the victims (at the Tak Bai police station)

died of gunshot wounds caused by bullet shot from distance

(sic).” Another part of the report reveals that Queen

Sirikit summoned General Pisan to an audience at Narathiwat

Palace at 12 midnight on October 26. The report notes that

Gen. Pisan, the 4th Army Commander, also met with PM Thaksin

at a hotel in Narathiwat the same night. Among the

recommendations not previously revealed is the suggestion

that the RTG produce radio and TV programs in the Malayu

(Yawi dialect) language to create understanding between the

local populace and the government. The report also suggests

that the RTG “avoid the implementation” of martial law and

employ “the Emergency Administration Emergency Situation Act

B.E. 2495 (1953),” which provides for some civilian control

over the military.

 

MUSLIM REACTION: RTG GETTING BETTER, BUT WHERE’S THE MONEY?

 

¶5. (U) Muslim leaders welcomed the release of the reports.

Some Embassy contacts from the Islamic Committees of Pattani

and Yala complained that the reports were not released in

Yawi and therefore many Thai Muslims, particularly older

religious and community leaders, still did not have full

access to them. Media reports quoted families of those

killed on April 28 as stating that they have not yet received

20,000 baht ($512) in compensation promised to them by the

RTG last year. The families of the young members of the Ban

Suso soccer team in Saba Yoi, Songkhla are among those with

this complaint. One reported eyewitness of events at Saba

Yoi was quoted in The Nation newspaper as saying, “Of the 19

dead bodies we found at the scene, 14, including my younger

brother Kamaridin, were shot in the head.” The policy of

providing compensation for the families of those killed by

security forces on April 28 is controversial among military

commanders. (Note: Five Thai security forces were killed and

21 injured in the affected areas on April 28. See Reftel D.

End Note.)

 

NRC CREATES SUBCOMMITTEES

 

¶6. (U) On May 9, the NRC held its third full, formal meeting

at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Bangkok. The

one-day meeting followed a weekend trip by Chairman Anand to

Narathiwat to meet with victims from the Tak Bai incident and

some of the families of those killed in Saba Yoi, Songkhla on

April 28, 2004. At this meeting, the NRC decided to set up

five subcommittees charged with responsibilities as follows:

1) Promote Justice and Human Rights, to be chaired by Deputy

Prime Minster Chaturon Chaisaeng; 2) Solve Conflict through

Peaceful Means, to be chaired by Phra Paisarn Wisaro, a

well-know Buddhist monk; 3) Study the Development of Human

Security, to be chaired by Amnar Siamwalla; 4) Promote

Cultural Diversity in Thailand, to be chaired by Prawes Wasi,

a leading public intellectual and social activist; and, 5)

Promote Local Harmony and Cooperation, to be chaired by

General Narong Denudom, a Muslim former 4th Army Commander.

It was also announced that PM Thaksin would recommend for

cabinet approval on May 10, a resolution to drop pending

criminal charges against 58 Tak Bai demonstrators. The NRC

will next meet in Narathiat on May 20.

 

¶7. (SBU) Comment: The NRC under Anand’s leadership has taken

a bold first step by releasing the full reports. This move

is responsive to calls from human rights NGOs and the Muslim

community for a more open process in its investigation of two

of the most important cases of claimed human rights

violations committed against Thai Muslims in the last year.

To his credit, PM Thaksin has not objected to the release of

these controversial documents, although his administration

had earlier explicitly refused to do so. Significantly, the

first year anniversary of the events of April 28 passed

without any major violence or separatist attacks. End

Comment.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

August 28, 2011 at 6:10 am

05BANGKOK2665 ANTI-TERRORIST MEASURE — RTG REQUIRES ID FOR TELEPHONE CARD PURCHASES

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS BANGKOK 002665

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PTER TH

SUBJECT: ANTI-TERRORIST MEASURE — RTG REQUIRES ID FOR

TELEPHONE CARD PURCHASES

 

REF: BANGKOK 2441

 

¶1. (U) Summary: In an effort to thwart or identify and

arrest separatist bombers, the RTG intends to require that

buyers of mobile phone SIM cards show their national ID cards

to register the purchase. Following the bombings in Hat Yai

and other locations in the south recently, the RTG is eager

to show its determination to track down the perpetrators.

Critics question the effectiveness of the measures. End

summary.

 

SUSPECTED USE OF MOBILE PHONES BY BOMBERS LEADS TO

RESTRICTIONS BY RTG

 

¶2. (SBU) The RTG announced on April 17 that buyers of

mobile telephone SIMs cards will have to produce either a

national identification card or a passport at the time of

purchase. In addition, according to press reports, all 21.5

million existing prepaid Thai and foreign mobile phone system

users in the country will be required to report their citizen

identification or their passport numbers to their phone

operators within six months. Phone services will be canceled

by the government if users do not meet the registration

deadline. The decision to regulate the use of SIM cards for

prepaid mobile phones was reportedly made in response to

Prime Minister Thaksin’s instructions at the April 12 cabinet

meeting following the April 3 Hat Yai Airport bombing, in

which Thai authorities believe separatists detonated an

improvised explosive device using a mobile telephone.

 

¶3. (SBU) The new requirements were reportedly reached on

April 17 at a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and

Interior Minister Police General Chidchai Vanasatidya and

attended by top security officials such as Defense Minister

Thammarak Issarangkura, National Security Council Secretary

General General Winai Phattiyakul, National Intelligence

Director Jumpol Manmai and Police Commissioner-General Kovit

Wattana, as well as officials from the Information and

Communications Technology Ministry (ICT).

 

THAKSIN SAYS NEW REQUIREMENTS STRICTLY SECURITY-RELATED

 

¶4. (U) Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters

that the campaign to trace SIMs card users is intended to

follow and locate bombers quickly but must not undermine the

users’ privacy. An ICT Ministry official told reporters that

the RTG is actively seeking the cooperation of service

providers nationwide in the registration effort. This will

theoretically prevent potential saboteurs from buying cards

in peaceful areas of the country to use in the troubled

provinces. With Cabinet endorsement, the ICT Ministry is

expected to draw up the requirements as ministerial

regulations which will then be signed by the ICT Minister and

published in the Government Gazette.

 

HOW EFFECTIVE?

 

¶5. (SBU) Comment: In the wake of the bombings at Hat Yai

airport and several other locations in the south earlier this

month (reftel), the RTG is eager to show that it is taking

measures to track down the perpetrators. It is hard to see

how this effort will have an impact on the use of bombs in

the south. Already critics are being heard. National

Reconciliation Commission (NRC) member and Muslim scholar

Asmadsomboon Bualuang complains that the measure does nothing

to resolve the overall situation in the south. Bangkok

Senator Seri Suwananond reacted to the measure by saying that

forged documents (and Bangkok is the center of an

international document forgery industry) will simply be used

by separatist bombers to purchase phone cards for use in

detonating improvised explosive devices. With virtually all

of these unknown persons who have set off bombs in the

southern border provinces over the past year still at large,

we expect the bombings to continue.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

August 28, 2011 at 6:01 am

05BANGKOK2601 THAILAND: NOBEL LAUREATE SHIRIN EBADI DISCUSSES HER VIEWS ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN IRAN, SHARES OPINIONS ON THE THAI SOUTH AND IRAQ

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002601

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, NEA

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM SOCI IR TH IRAQ

SUBJECT: THAILAND: NOBEL LAUREATE SHIRIN EBADI DISCUSSES

HER VIEWS ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN IRAN, SHARES OPINIONS

ON THE THAI SOUTH AND IRAQ

 

¶1. (U) SUMMARY. On April 10, Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate

(2003) Shirin Ebadi spoke in Bangkok. She focused a

discussion attended by poloff on her experiences as a judge,

lawyer and advocate for women,s rights in Iran, before and

after the Islamic Revolution. She argued that many of the

laws that stand in the way of women,s equality in Iran are

in place due to “the wrong interpretation of Islam,” and that

these laws are opposed by a “very strong” women,s movement.

Ms. Ebadi also criticized the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and

stated that the U.S. reason for going to war was a desire for

Iraqi oil. At a dinner reception that night, Ms. Ebadi

called for a withdrawal of Thai troops from the South as a

means of beginning peaceful negotiations with “the rebels.”

END SUMMARY

 

“THE RIGHTS OF HUMAN BEINGS ARE THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN”

 

¶2. (U) On April 10, Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate (2003)

Shirin Ebadi — who has just been named one of Time

Magazine,s 100 Most Influential People — spoke about

“Defending the Rights of Women and Children” to a small

audience composed primarily of representatives of the NGO

community and several members of the Thai Human Rights

Commission (HRC). Poloff observed several Muslim attendees

in the audience.

 

¶3. (U) Ms. Ebadi contrasted different ways women suffer

inequality in the West and in the Islamic World. In the

West, she said, women,s rights are legally protected, but

not always recognized by society. In the Islamic world, women

suffer “legal and institutionalized” discrimination,

including polygamy and unequal treatment under the law. She

concluded that these two halves form “an entire world where

women are second-class citizens” stemming principally from a

universal “patriarchal culture.” Ms. Ebadi argued that the

key to a peaceful society is a combination of “real”

democracy and human rights. She repeatedly emphasized that a

democracy elected by the majority, but which does not respect

the rights of its women and minorities is not a “real”

democracy.

 

¶4. (U) When asked why so many educated women in Iran

supported (“voted”) for the Revolution in 1979, Ebadi

responded that the key ideals behind the 1979 Revolution were

“independence and freedom,” which she supported to this day.

She expressed her hope that someday there would be “real”

democracy and freedom in Iran.

 

¶5. (U) Ms. Ebadi was asked what women,s groups in Iran have

been able to accomplish under Islamic shariyah law. She

noted that 63% of Iranian university students are now women

and that Iranian women are becoming more educated than men.

The feminist movement in Iran has been “gaining ground

strongly” and there is support from all classes of society.

Still, she said, the Iranian legal system continues to deny

women their rights as equal citizens. She pointed out that

many of the current laws derived from “the wrong

interpretation” of Islam and that these laws were “not

compatible with Iranian culture.”

 

¶6. (U) She proudly stated that pressure from women,s groups

had been instrumental in changing many laws, including the

reversal of a 1979 ruling that women could no longer serve as

judges. In 1979, female judges (including Ms. Ebadi herself)

were demoted to clerks in their own courts. Thanks to women

“fighting the system” she said, the government ruled in 1992

that the previous interpretation of Islam had been incorrect.

Although the women,s movement still had a long way to go,

she expressed optimism that women would one day win equal

rights in Iran

 

IRAQ

 

¶7. (U) When asked about Iraq, Ms. Ebadi stated that she had

denounced the U.S.-led military attack on Iraq on many

occasions. She added that although Saddam Hussein had been a

terrible dictator who “should have been eliminated,” she

“wished” that he had been overthrown by Iraqis and not by

U.S. military force. She said that recent elections were “a

step in the right direction,” but was adamant that the price

of the war had been “outrageously high,” resulting in 100,000

Iraqi deaths, the looting of national museums and the

destruction of homes. She argued that the human cost could

have been lessened greatly if the international community had

helped Iraqis to do the job themselves.

 

¶8. (U) She stated matter-of-factly that “oil was the deciding

factor for going to war.” When asked if she believed the war

was fought for the benefit of Israel, she considered the

question a moment before responding that while “it goes

without saying” that the foremost U.S. objective in the

Middle East is Israeli security, Iraq had not posed a serious

threat to Israel since the first Gulf War. In her opinion,

it was clearly oil that interested the U.S.

 

THE THAI SOUTH

 

¶9. (U) At a dinner hosted by the Thai Senate Foreign

Relations Committee the evening of April 10, press reports

indicate Ms. Ebadi urged a full pullout of Thai troops from

the South as a means of entering into peaceful talks with the

“rebels.” “In my opinion, soldiers must be returned to their

barrack. Through (dialogue) everything must be solved,” she

is quoted as saying. As part of Ms. Ebadi’s message of the

importance of “real democracy,” she also commented that

“majority-Islam nations must observe the rights of minorities

such as Christians, while majority-Buddhist nations must

observe the rights of minority Muslims.”

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

August 28, 2011 at 6:00 am

05BANGKOK2322 THAILAND: THAKSIN SIGNALS SHIFT IN SOUTH POLICY

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS BANGKOK 002322

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: THAKSIN SIGNALS SHIFT IN SOUTH POLICY

 

REF: BANGKOK 2255

 

¶1. (SBU) Summary: On March 30, Prime Minister Thaksin,

speaking to a joint session of parliament, surprised the

political establishment by suggesting that the RTG would take

a less security focused approach towards Thailand’s troubled

far south. Thaksin’s conciliatory tone, with statements such

as “violence only begets violence,” is a dramatic shift away

from past tough talk about the south. On March 31, Thaksin

indicated that troops would have a less visible presence in

the South, but would not, as some reports had indicated, be

withdrawn. Thaksin’s conciliatory speech, and the recent

formation of a National Reconciliation Commission, or NRC

(reftel), are positive developments for a region that has

received or produced only bad news of late. However,

Thaksin’s promise to use a less security focused approach

might meet with some internal resistance from Thai security

forces. End Summary.

 

¶2. (SBU) On March 30, Prime Minister Thaksin addressed a

rare joint session of parliament. He had convoked the

special session to debate the violence-plagued far south of

Thailand. Thaksin, showing uncharacteristic humility,

admitted to policy missteps in the region, “I am now

determined to undo what I have done wrong in the past.” The

Prime Minister also backed down from his usual tough

rhetoric, agreeing with critics that a less security focused

approach was called for, “violence only breeds violence” he

said.

 

¶3. (SBU) Thaksin was also surprisingly conciliatory towards

opposition leader Aphisit Vejjajiva, saying the Democrat

Party leader’s views on the South “are mostly consistent with

my thinking.” Continuing his praise for his main political

rival Thaksin said, “I admire your presentation and accept

all your 9-point proposed approach to the southern unrest for

further implementation.” (Note: The 9-point Democrat plan

calls for the government to: 1) cancel plans to withhold

government development funding from “red zone” villages

blamed for harboring militants; 2) increase development

projects; 3) name a civilian official, vice military, to

coordinate regional government programs; 4) compensate

victims of the violence; 5) improve the southern economy; 6)

improve education in the South; 7) encourage local officials

to learn about Islamic culture; 8) allow international

organizations to access the South to help; 9) follow the

advice of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC). End

Note.)

 

¶4. (SBU) Thaksin also reiterated his public endorsement of

the 48-member National Reconciliation Commission which, under

the leadership of Anand Panyarachun, a highly respected and

politically independent former Prime Minister, is tasked with

developing policy recommendations for the troubled south.

Thaksin said, “I would like to see it use its independent

role, offer diverse views and dimensions, and I confirm full

governmental support and readiness to respond to its

requests.”

 

¶5. (SBU) Speaking to reporters on March 31, Thaksin seemed

to indicate that troops would be “withdrawn” from the far

south as part of the government’s new strategy. He said

“adjustments are imminent.” However, the military was quick

to clarify that “adjustments” did not mean that actual troop

levels would be reduced in the south; instead troops would

have a less visible presence, or would work on civil-military

projects instead of security missions only. General Sirichai

Tunyasiri, who heads the Southern Border Provinces

Peace-building Command (SBPPC) and acts as the coordinator

for all Thai security forces in the region, said that troops

would be repositioned in the South, but “absolutely will not

be pulled out of the region.”

 

¶7. (SBU) Comment: Thaksin’s assuaging remarks in front of

both houses of Parliament are a welcome change from past

rhetoric or inflammatory off-the-cuff remarks about the

south. The Prime Minister’s apparent new policy flexibility

on the south, coupled with the appointment of the politically

independent NRC, are positive signs that the administration

may be learning from the policy failures of the last two

years. However, if he tries to move too far away from a

security-based strategy for the South, Thaksin could face

internal resistance from hard-liners within the RTG security

forces. This seems to be the implication of the rapid

clarification by the SBPPC that no troops would actually be

withdrawn from the troubled far south. End Comment.

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

August 28, 2011 at 5:56 am

05BANGKOK1277 VEHICLE BOMB STRIKES HOTEL IN SOUTHERN THAILAND

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS BANGKOK 001277

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

PASS TO DS/DSS/ITA, DS/DSS/OSAC, DSERCC, DS/IP/EAP

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ASEC PTER TH

SUBJECT: VEHICLE BOMB STRIKES HOTEL IN SOUTHERN THAILAND

 

¶1. (U) SUMMARY: A VEHICLE-BORNE IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE

(VBIED) EXPLODED 2/17/2005 OUTSIDE A HOTEL IN NARATHIWAT

PROVINCE, SOUTHERN THAILAND. POLICE REPORT 5 DEAD AND 49

INJURED. THIS IS AN ESCALATION IN TACTICS FROM THE DAILY

DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS AND SMALLER IEDS WHICH TYPICALLY TARGET

THAI SECURITY FORCES. END SUMMARY.

 

¶2. (SBU) DETAILS:

ACCORDING TO ROYAL THAI POLICE (RTP) SOURCES AND PRESS

REPORTS, AT 1905 HRS ON 2/17/2005, A VBIED EXPLODED OUTSIDE

THE MARINA HOTEL IN SUNG NGAI KOH LOC DISTRICT OF NARATHIWAT

PROVINCE, SOUTHERN THAILAND. THE HOTEL IS LOCATED

APPROXIMATELY 50 METERS FROM A LOCAL POLICE STATION IN AN

ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT OF THE TOWN. THE INITIAL POLICE

REPORTS INDICATED THE VBIED VEHICLE WAS A NISSAN NV PICK-UP

TRUCK. LATER, OTHER RELIABLE SOURCES HAVE REPORTED THE GREEN

NISSAN TRUCK PARKED OUTSIDE THE HOTEL TO APPARENTLY TO HOLD

THE PARKING SPOT FOR ANOTHER TOYOTA SEDAN WHICH WAS THE

VBIED. WITNESSES SAY THE PERSON WHO PARKED THE VBIED ESCAPED

ON A MOPED, OR ALTERNATIVELY, IN THE GREEN NISSAN PICK-UP.

ONE REPORT INDICATES THE POLICE HAVE RECOVERED CCTV FOOTAGE

OF THE ATTACK.

 

¶3. (SBU) POLICE AND OTHER SOURCES HAVE INDICATED THE VBIED

CONSISTED OF 50-100 KGS OF AMMONIUM NITRATE, DYNAMITE, AND

SHRAPNEL. POLICE ARE WITHHOLDING PUBLIC CONFIRMATION OF

EXPLOSIVE PENDING LABORATORY ANALYSIS. ADDITIONAL REPORTS

INDICATE THE VBIED HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS A STOLEN CAR THAT

PREVIOUSLY BELONGED TO A MILITARY NCO KILLED IN NARATHIWAT IN

¶2004. MOST OF THE DEAD AND INJURED WERE AT A RESTAURANT

LOCATED IN THE FRONT OF THE HOTEL.

 

¶4. (SBU) POLICE BELIEVE THE VBIED WAS DETONATED BY MOBILE

PHONE, A COMMON TACTIC EMPLOYED BY THAI SEPARTISTS. THE

ESCALATION FROM SMALLER ROADSIDE AND MOPED IEDS TO LARGER

CAPACITY VBIEDS IS DISTURBING TO THAI POLICE, AND US EMBASSY

SECURITY OFFICIALS ARE SIMILARLY CONCERNED. THIS ATTACK

CONFIRMS VBIED THREAT INFORMATION THAT HAD BEEN CIRCULATING

IN THE AREA SINCE SEPT 2004, AND MAY PORTEND SIMILAR ATTACKS

SOON. UNCONFIRMED REPORTS INDICATE AN ADDITIONAL THREE

VBIEDS ARE BEING PREPARED. THE FREQUENCY OF SMALL SCALE

BOMBINGS AND SHOOTINGS AGAINST POLICE, MILITARY, FIRST

RESPONDER, AND THAI GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS HAS INCREASED SINCE

THE THAI FEB 6 NATIONAL ELECTIONS. THIS MAY BE ONE OF THE

FIRST ATTACKS PURELY AGAINST CIVILIAN TARGETS. AND IN WHAT

MAY BE A SHOW OF CONTINUING CAPABILITIES AND STRENGTH IN THE

FACE OF CURRENT THAI SECURITY EFFORTS, THIS ATTACK OCCURRED

ON THE SAME EVENING THAT THAI PRIME MINISTER THAKSIN

SHINAWATRA WAS IN THE TROUBLED SOUTHERN PROVINCES TALKING

ABOUT TAKING DECISIVE ACTION TO STOP THE VIOLENCE.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

August 26, 2011 at 5:33 am

05BANGKOK687 TAK BAI INDEPENDENT COMMISSION REPORT

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000687

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/BCLTV, DRL; US PACOM FOR FPA

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL TH HUMAN RIGHTS

SUBJECT: TAK BAI INDEPENDENT COMMISSION REPORT

 

REF: 04 BANGKOK 8567

 

 

 

¶1. (U) SUMMARY: The Independent Commission investigating the

October 2004 Tak Bai incident has concluded that three senior

security officials, including the Fourth Army Commanding

General, failed to monitor their subordinates during the

transfer of detainees from Tak Bai to a Pattani Army camp.

Officially seven people remain missing. The Independent

Commission suggested no legal action or punitive

recommendations (in the belief that such recommendations were

beyond its mandate), but the Government has assigned the

Ministry of Defense to conduct a military disciplinary

investigation of the three senior officers cited in the

report, and ordered the Police Department to conduct a

criminal investigation. The Government has also established

a committee to provide assistance and compensation to victims

and their families. The Thai Senate and the National Human

Rights Commission (NHRC) have also completed similar reports

on Tak Bai. The Senate report describes abuses in more

detail and calls for greater accountability. No progress in

holding the officers accountable is expected until after the

February general election. END SUMMARY.

 

GENERAL PHISAN CITED FOR NEGLIGENCE; SEVEN STILL MISSING

 

¶2. (U) On January 18, the Embassy received an English

language document from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

entitled, &Summary of the Findings and Recommendations of

the Independent Fact-Finding Commission on the 25 October

2004 Incident Leading to the Death of Individuals at Tak Bai

District, Narathiwat Province, Thailand.” A copy of the

document was faxed to the Thai desk and to DRL on January 20,

¶2005. The 13-page report provides a general overview of

events leading to the deaths of over 80 Muslim demonstrators

by discussing 11 &issues for consideration.8 A large

portion of the summary provides justification in general for

the use of force under certain conditions and reinforces the

authority of the Fourth Army Regional Commander, General

Phisan Watthanwongkhiri, to take action in response to a

violent demonstration. A set of nine recommendations

completes the report. The report notes that in addition to

the numbers previously reported as shot or killed by

suffocation, the commission found that seven people remain

missing.

 

¶3. (U) However, the commission’s report further states that

&the commanding officers concerned (were seen) to be badly

lacking in judgment for having failed to supervise the

transportation of the persons in custody until its

completion.8 The report cites 4th Army commander Gen.

Phisan (by title and position but not by name) for having

&failed to properly perform his duty and failed in his

responsibility as a commander to closely monitor and

supervise the mission he entrusted to his subordinates.8

Major General Chaloenchai Wirunphet, Commander of the 5th

Infantry Regiment, and cited as the officer in charge of

crowd control at Tak Bai, is also criticized for failing to

perform his duties responsibly. Major General Sinchai

Nutsathi, Deputy 4th Army Commanding General, assigned to

prepare logistics (transportation and accommodation) for the

demonstrators, is also cited in a similar manner.

 

THAI SENATE AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION REPORTS

 

¶4. (U) Three Senate Committees also investigating the Tak Bai

incident have released a joint report which cited more

specific human rights abuses at Tak Bai and in its aftermath,

including the beating and kicking of demonstrators. The

Senate report states that &those responsible for the

incident must be punished through the legal system(right up

to the highest level(8 The National Human Rights

Commission (NHRC) also has issued a brief three-page summary

statement, reiterating the concerns of both the Independent

Commission and the Senate reports, but not providing details

on human rights abuses and only generally calling on the

Government to pay compensation to victims.

 

FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS

 

¶5. (SBU) COMMENT: From the outset, members of the

investigating Independent Commission were very clear: they

would produce only a report and they had no authority to hold

persons accountable for their actions. Their position was:

&It should be for the agencies tasked with the

implementation of the judicial process to dispense justice

for all the parties concerned.8 The Thaksin Cabinet, to its

credit, has instructed both the military and the police to

take up investigations of the three officers cited in the

report. Military disciplinary and Police criminal

investigations have been ordered. But with the country’s

attention captivated by post-tsunami efforts and daily

election wrangling, further investigation and true

accountability probably will not move forward swiftly without

continued pressure from Thai human rights groups and civil

society leaders. END COMMENT.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

August 26, 2011 at 4:37 am

10BANGKOK298 SCENESETTER FOR THE CSA-HOSTED VISIT OF THAI ARMY COMMANDER GENERAL ANUPONG

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2020

TAGS: PGOV, PTER, MARR, MOPS, PINS, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE CSA-HOSTED VISIT OF THAI ARMY

COMMANDER GENERAL ANUPONG

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) General Casey, the upcoming visit of Thai Army

Commander General Anupong Paojinda will be an important

occasion to demonstrate our appreciation for the U.S.-Thai

relationship. Despite ongoing domestic political challenges,

Thailand\’s adherence to democratic values should not go

unrecognized. General Anupong has been invaluable the past

two years as he has resisted pressures from all sides for

military intervention into politics; as a result, a full

range of actors on the Thai political scene are able to

openly and vigorously debate policies and the state of

democracy. This visit is a prime opportunity to demonstrate

clearly to our close ally that we intend to engage fully in

the partnership, at a time when many in Thailand question

U.S. commitment to the region in comparison to a sustained

Chinese charm offensive. As examples of benefits from the

relationship, the U.S.-Thai partnership has yielded a

promising new lead in the drive to develop an HIV vaccination

and the seizure of more than 35 tons of North Korean weapons

in just the last three months alone, two examples that serve

to illustrate the depth and breadth of a relationship.

Furthermore, the Thai Cabinet in December approved a

supplemental budget to facilitate a peacekeeping deployment

to Darfur.

 

2. (C) General Anupong is the preeminent military leader in

our steadfast ally and has been a strong advocate of not

staging a coup and permitting the democratic process to play

out, although with the Army ensuring security. Indeed, if

you look back at the political turbulence of the past two

years, he has been one of the more admirable figures in

Thailand, and this counterpart visit is one way to express

our appreciation for his actions. Anupong has had to make an

extraordinary series of tough decisions over the past

eighteen months, and his intellect and disposition have been

key ingredients that have enabled him to make the choice to

come down on the side of democracy, even as his troops wage a

counterinsurgency campaign in Thailand\’s troubled

southernmost provinces. We will also want to use this visit

to send a signal to the rest of the Royal Thai Army that the

United States values its relationship with the Thai military

and Thailand. Anupong will likely be interested in pursuing

discussions on regional security challenges, and how the

U.S.-Thai alliance can be focused to assist as Thailand

prepares for changing threats. Anupong will also look to

discuss areas of cooperation, such as bilateral exercises and

training, whereby we can assist the Thai military modernize.

Thai government officials and military leaders have also

expressed strong interest in receiving excess defense

articles by way of Thailand\’s status as a Major Non-NATO

Ally, as Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya raised in 2009 with

Secretary Clinton and other senior USG officials.

 

POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

———————

 

3. (SBU) The past eighteen months were turbulent for

Thailand. Court decisions forced two Prime Ministers from

office in 2008, and twice the normal patterns of political

life took a back seat to disruptive protests in the streets.

The yellow-shirted People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD)

occupied Government House from August to December 2008 and

shut down Bangkok\’s airports for eight days, to protest

governments affiliated with ex-Prime Minister Thaksin

Shinawatra. The red-shirted United Front for Democracy

against Dictatorship (UDD), followers of Thaksin, disrupted a

regional Asian Summit and sparked riots in Bangkok in

mid-April 2009 after Thaksin, now a fugitive abroad in the

wake of an abuse of power conviction, called for a revolution

to bring him home.

 

4. (C) 2010 promises to be contentious as well, with Thaksin

and the red-shirts having vowed to redouble their efforts to

topple the government. In recent weeks, the red-shirts have

steadily increased a campaign to discredit and undermine the

government, with promises of a \”final battle\” in late

February that has many worried that violence could again

return to the streets of Bangkok. Among their activities has

 

BANGKOK 00000298 002 OF 005

 

been an operation to spread rumors of an impending coup, a

rumor for which we have seen no basis.

 

5. (C) Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is a photogenic,

eloquent 45-year old Oxford graduate who generally has

progressive instincts and says the right things about basic

freedoms, social inequities, policy towards Burma, and how to

address the troubled deep South, afflicted by a grinding

ethno-nationalist Muslim-Malay separatist insurgency.

Delivering results has proved more elusive, though the Thai

economy is growing again, driven by expanding exports.

 

6. (C) While both yellow and red try to lay exclusive claim

to the mantle of democracy, both have ulterior motives in

doing so. Both movements reflect deep social concerns

stemming from widespread perceptions of a lack of social and

economic justice, but both seek to triumph in competing for

traditional Thai hierarchical power relationships. New

elections would not appear to be a viable solution to

political divide, and political discord could persist for

years. We continue to stress to Thai interlocutors the need

for all parties to avoid violence and respect democratic

norms within the framework of the constitution and rule of

law, as well as our support for long-time friend Thailand to

work through its current difficulties and emerge as a more

participatory democracy.

 

RECEDING MONARCHY

—————–

 

7. (C) Underlying the political tension in Bangkok is the

future of the monarchy. On the throne for 62 years,

U.S.-born King Bhumibol is Thailand\’s most prestigious

figure, with influence far beyond his constitutional mandate.

Many actors, including in the military, are jockeying for

position to shape the expected transition period in Thailand

during royal succession after the eventual passing of the

King. Few observers believe that the deep political and

social divides can be bridged until after King Bhumibol

passes and Thailand\’s tectonic plates shift. Crown Prince

Vajiralongkorn neither commands the respect nor displays the

charisma of his beloved father, who has greatly expanded the

prestige and influence of the monarchy during his reign.

Nearly everyone expects the monarchy to shrink and change in

function after succession. How much will change is open to

question, with many institutions, figures, and political

forces positioning for influence, not only over redefining

the institution of monarchy but, equally fundamentally, what

it means to be Thai.

 

SOUTHERN THAILAND – SEPARATIST INSURGENCY

—————————————–

 

8. (C) An ethno-nationalist Malay Muslim insurgency in

southern Thailand has claimed an estimated 3,500 lives since

2004. Fundamental issues of justice and ethnic identity

drive the violence as many Malay Muslims feel that they are

second-class citizens in Thailand, and ending the insurgency

will require the government to deal with these issues on a

national level. The insurgents use IEDs, assassinations, and

beheadings to challenge the control of the Thai state in the

deep South; the government has responded through special

security laws that give security forces expanded power to

search and detain people. The Thai military is now deeply

involved in counter-insurgency efforts; in contrast, from the

late 1990s-2004, the military viewed the top national

security threat to be the flow of illegal narcotics from

neighboring Burma.

 

9. (C) The insurgents direct their anger at the government in

Bangkok, not at the United States. Since a U.S. presence or

perception of U.S. involvement in the South could redirect

that anger towards us and link it to the international

jihadist movement — a link that is currently absent – we

ensure that any offers of assistance or training pass the

\”location and label\” test. Put simply, we keep U.S. military

personnel away from the far South and we make sure that we do

not label any assistance or training as directly linked to

the southern situation. This approach dovetails with the

 

BANGKOK 00000298 003 OF 005

 

Thai interest in keeping outside influences and actors away

from the internal conflict.

 

10. (C) General Anupong has dedicated more of his time to

overseeing RTA counter-insurgency efforts in South than past

Army Commanders, who often were more focused on politics in

Bangkok. Anupong makes almost weekly trips to the South, and

he and his senior staff have engaged the Embassy and USARPAC

in an effort to learn counter-insurgency and counter-IED best

practices.

 

ENDURING BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

——————————-

 

11. (C) Despite the political divide, Thailand\’s unparalleled

strategic importance to the U.S. should not be understated.

The U.S.-Thai military relationship, which began during World

War II when the U.S. trained Thais to covertly conduct

special operations against the Japanese forces occupying

Thailand has evolved into a partnership that provides the

U.S. with unique benefits. Our military engagement affords

us unique training venues, the opportunity to conduct

exercises that are nearly impossible to match elsewhere, a

willing participant in international peacekeeping operations,

essential access to facilities amid vital sea and air lanes

that support contingency and humanitarian missions, and a

partner that is a key ASEAN nation in which we continue to

promote democratic ideals.

 

12. (C) Thailand\’s willingness to allow the United States to

use Utapao Naval Air Station as the hub for our regional

assistance program was key to making the 2004 tsunami and the

2008 Cyclone Nargis relief operations a success. While those

high-profile relief operations highlighted publicly the value

of access to Utapao, the air base is used regularly for

military flights. A prime example was the critical support

Utapao provided during OEF by providing an air bridge in

support of refueling missions en route to Afghanistan.

Approximately 1,000 flights transit Utapao every year in

support of critical U.S. military operations both regionally

and to strategic areas of the world. Thailand also provides

valued port access with U.S. naval vessels making calls,

primarily at Laem Chabang and Sattahip, over sixty times per

year for exercises and visits.

 

13. (SBU) Beyond traditional military activities, our

bilateral military relationship provides benefits in other

important areas. One example is the Armed Forces Research

Institute of Medical Sciences\’ (AFRIMS) collaboration with

Thai counterparts on basic research and trial vaccines. The

sophistication of the Thai scientific and public health

community makes collaboration as useful to the USG as it is

to the Thais. A number of important breakthroughs, such as

in the prevention of HIV/AIDS transmission from mothers to

children, were developed here, and the first partially

successful phase III, double blind trial for a potential HIV

vaccine occurred in 2009; a second such trial run by CDC is

currently ongoing.

 

COBRA GOLD AND THE MILITARY EXERCISE PROGRAM

——————————————–

 

14. (C) By means of access to good military base

infrastructure and large areas to conduct unrestricted

operations, Thailand gives the U.S. military a platform for

exercises unique in Asia. Thai leaders are far more willing

to host multinational and bilateral exercises than are other

countries in Asia. This has allowed us to use exercises in

Thailand to further key U.S. objectives, such as supporting

Japan\’s growing military role in Asia and engaging the

Indonesian and Singaporean militaries.

 

15. (C) Cobra Gold, the capstone event of our exercise

program and being held during the visit, is the largest

annual multi-lateral exercise in the Pacific region and for

29 years has served to strengthen our relations with

Thailand, highlight our commitment to Southeast Asia, and

provide exceptional training opportunities for our troops.

The event has evolved over the years and now facilitates

 

BANGKOK 00000298 004 OF 005

 

important objectives such as promoting a greater role in the

Asian Pacific region for Japan, Singapore, and South Korea

and re-establishing a partner role with Indonesia. As an

example of the tangible benefits of the exercise, USARPAC is

using this year\’s Cobra Gold to test a deployable command

post for crisis situations such as HA/DR incidents. Cope

Tiger, a leading air exercise with the Thailand and

Singapore, and CARAT, a bilateral naval event, are key

mechanisms for engagement of the Royal Thai Air Force and

Navy. The Thai military continues to highlight to us the

significance of these events for training and for

relationship building.

 

PEACEKEEPING EFFORTS AND DARFUR DEPLOYMENT

——————————————

 

16. (C) Thailand has historically been a strong supporter of

UN peacekeeping missions and was an early contributing nation

to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, Thai

generals very effectively led UN forces in East Timor, to

which Thailand contributed 1,500 troops, and in Aceh where a

Thai general served as the principal deputy of the Aceh

Monitoring Mission. Thailand is preparing for deploying a

battalion of troops for a difficult UNAMID mission in Darfur

and has asked for USG assistance. State recently identified

$2.4 million to be used to support equipment needed by the

Thai for the deployment, and we have used various funding

sources to increase overall Thai peacekeeping capabilities,

both as a contributing nation and as a trainer of neighboring

nations.

 

BORDER CONFLICT WITH CAMBODIA

—————————–

 

17. (C) Bilateral relations with Cambodia remain volatile,

primarily due to a border dispute centered on 4.6 square

kilometers of overlapping territorial claims adjacent to the

11th century Hindu Preah Vihear temple. Minor skirmishes

have erupted four times since mid-2008, leading to the deaths

of seven soldiers. Cambodian Prime Hun Sen\’s November 2009

decision to appoint Thaksin as an economic advisor further

stoked cross-border tensions. Furthermore, there have been

at least six reports of small-scale conflicts resulting from

cross-border illegal logging activities in recent months.

 

18. (C) The roots of the border dispute lie in the

Siam-France agreements of 1904-8 and a 1962 International

Court of Justice ruling that granted Cambodia the temple but

left the rest of disputed land unresolved. Tensions spiked

in 2008 when the Thai government in power at that time

supported Cambodia\’s application to UNESCO for a joint

listing of the temple as a world heritage site, only to face

opposition in parliament and an adverse court ruling. Thorny

internal political considerations and historical rancor

between Thailand and Cambodia make progress difficult. We

urge both sides to resolve their differences peacefully

through bilateral negotiations, border demarcation, and a

reduction of troops deployed along the border.

 

ONGOING REFUGEE CONCERNS: HMONG AND BURMA

—————————————–

 

19. (C) Due to inherent institutional capabilities, the Thai

military plays a prominent role in the management of the many

refugees that enter Thailand from neighboring countries.

Thailand continues to host more than 140,000 Burmese and

facilitate resettlement of more than 14,000 refugees to the

U.S. annually, but the recent forced repatriation of two

groups of Lao Hmong in late December provoked international

outcry. The USG and Congress are also focused on 4,000

ethnic Karen in a Thai army-run camp along the Thai-Burma

border who came into Thailand last June fleeing an offensive

and who may be sent back in the near future. (Note: 140,000

Karen and Karenni have lived in RTG-sanctioned camps along

the border since 1990. End Note.) We underscore to the RTG

our disappointment with the Hmong deportation decision and

our continuing concern over access to the Hmong now that they

have been returned to Laos, as well as our concerns on the

Thai-Burma border.

 

BANGKOK 00000298 005 OF 005

 

THE INCREASING ROLE OF CHINA

—————————-

 

20. (C) As the shape of Southeast Asia, Asia writ large, and

the world has changed, so have Thai attitudes. The Chinese

have been making a major push to upgrade all aspects of

relations, including mil-mil. Thailand is not interested in

making a choice between the U.S. and China (nor do we see

closer Chinese-Thai relations as automatically threatening to

our interests here), but we will need to work harder to

maintain the preferred status we have enjoyed. While Thai

military links with the United States are deeper and far more

apparent than Sino-Thai links, China\’s growing influence in

Thailand is readily evident.

 

21. (C) The Chinese have made a strong effort to court the

Thai. The Thai military has a range of Chinese weapons

systems in its arsenal; the PLA Navy is interested in closer

links with the Thai navy, and China has worked with Thailand

to improve air defense equipment provided to Thailand in the

late 1980\’s. In 2007 and 2008, Thai and Chinese Special

Forces conducted joint exercises, and other mil-to-mil

exchanges have expanded in recent years, as has the number of

bilateral military VIP visits.

 

22. (C) During a visit to Thailand by Chinese Minister of

National Defense Liang Guanglie for the King\’s birthday

celebrations in early December 2009, the Thai and Chinese

militaries agreed to expand bilateral exercises to include

the two nations\’ navies, marines, and air forces. The

initial exercise will be conducted early this year, with the

PLA engaging Thai sailors and marines through an amphibious

landing event and a naval rescue and humanitarian relief

exercise. While some entities within the RTG resisted the

expanded engagement, reportedly the MFA and the Marine

Commandant, the Thai tell us that the Chinese pushed hard for

a rapid expansion of bilateral exercises. The Thai Marines

suggested to us that the exercise would be held at the

platoon or company level; it is unclear how many Navy

personnel may participate. While there are those in the Thai

military who have resisted expanding ties with the Chinese,

Foreign Minister Kasit during an early November meeting with

EAP Deputy Assistant Secretary Scot Marciel warned that

Thailand could not continue to say no, and that the U.S.

military needed to more seriously re-engage with their Thai

counterparts.

 

23. (C) The expansion of joint exercises follows China

providing Thailand with $49 million in military assistance

following the 2006 coup. Beyond exercises and assistance,

the number of exchanges by Thai and Chinese officers studying

at military institutes has increased significantly in recent

years, particularly since the coup. The PLA has also

actively courted Thai military leaders, including Defense

Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, Chief of Defense Forces General

Songkitti Jaggabatra, and General Anupong, through multiple

hosted-visits to China.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 22, 2011 at 9:41 am