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October 25 Massacre: PM Snubs UN On Tak Bai

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Human rights rapporteur told visit would not be 'appropriate'

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday snubbed a request by a United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings to look into the deaths of 85 Muslim protesters in Tak Bai, saying the government was uncomfortable with the move.

Philip Alston, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, said in a statement yesterday he was concerned about the deaths in Tak Bai on October 25 and about reports that up to 40 people are still unaccounted for. He had asked to visit the Kingdom to assess the situation in the deep South.

"The subsequent occurrence of reprisal killings, apparently undertaken to avenge the other deaths, is another part of a very worrying phenomenon," said Alston, an Australian law professor.

Thaksin said the government had deemed it inappropriate to allow the UN to investigate the incident because a government-backed independent panel was already doing the job. "We are uncomfortable about accommodating [the UN]. It is not appropriate," he told reporters.

An official at the Foreign Ministry said the government had already informed the UN Human Rights Commission about the Tak Bai crackdown earlier this month and wanted the envoy to wait for more details to emerge from the investigative panel chaired by Pichet Soonthornpipit, a former government ombudsman. The commission is supposed to file a report within 30 days. "We didn't say no to the UN request but asked for time to consider it carefully in accordance with local circumstances," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Alston said in his statement that he greatly appreciated the detailed information the government had provided in response to a letter he had sent earlier this month.

However, Alston argued that a visit to Thailand would enable him speak with all those involved in the incident and to formulate positive recommendations to support the efforts to bring peace and stability to the southernmost provinces.

Professor Alston was appointed as the special rapporteur on July 13. His mandate includes examining extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions worldwide and to submit his findings on an annual basis, together with conclusions and recommendations, to the UN Human Rights Commission.

Inquiry chairman Pichet said yesterday that his committee needed to extend the deadline to complete the investigation from 30 to 45 days to seek out more relevant information. The panel has limited its investigation only to the deaths of the 78 protestors who died while in custody as they were transported to a detention centre in Pattani.

Forensic expert Dr Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunand yesterday testified to the committee. She reaffirmed that 78 people had died of suffocation after being piled into trucks like logs before transportation.

Khunying Pornthip said the autopsy results could not answer an allegation raised by a survivor that detainees suffocated after bags were put over their heads. There were no bags found over the heads of the dead, she said.

An Internet website, Prachathai Online, reported that a number of protestors' heads were covered with black bags during transportation from Tak Bai to a military camp in Pattani.

Abdullah Jeha, a survivor from the Tak Bai crackdown, was quoted as saying "after soldiers tied my hands, they put a black bag over my head and threw me onto a truck".

"The bag was not fastened, I still could breath but it was very difficult. I asked someone beside me if their head was covered as well. Some said yes, some said no," he said.


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Forty still unaccounted for eh? Really does sound like someone from outside ought to have a closer look at that one. No wonder that the PM "snubbed " the nosey UN professor when he suggested the same.

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Thailand says no to U.N. probe of Muslim deaths

BANGKOK, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Thailand has told the United Nations it cannot yet investigate the deaths of 85 Muslim protesters last month as an independent inquiry was underway, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Friday.

Most of the protesters died of suffocation in army custody after a protest in the southern Narathiwat province.

"We are considering their request, but I don't think we are ready now," said foreign ministry spokesman Itti Ditbanjong.

"Our independent commission, which has been accepted by all sides, is doing its work and we should wait for them to finish first," he said of a request by a U.N. expert on human rights.

Philip Alston, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings for the U.N. Commission for Human Rights, said in a statement on Wednesday he was concerned about the 85 deaths and reports that up to 40 people might have gone missing. Alston said he had asked to visit Thailand to assess the unrest in the largely Muslim deep south, where almost 500 people have been killed since violence erupted there in January.

"The subsequent occurrence of reprisal killings, apparently undertaken to avenge the other deaths, is another part of a very worrying phenomenon," said Alston, a Australian law professor who teaches at New York University School of Law.

At least 30 people, almost all of them Buddhists, have been killed in apparent revenge for the deaths of the 85 Muslim protesters on October 25 at Tak Bai.

Most of them died after they were detained and stacked -- like logs, witnesses said at the time -- in army trucks for a long journey in sweltering heat to a military camp.

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This is only part of the truth,Where is the report about the missing person that never return home to see thier family members.

Thailand is always a democracy and advance country and I hope it won't follow the ' Killing field" ' foot step.

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