Students demand justice 10 years after Thai protest killings

Students demand justice 10 years after Thai protest killings

DOZENS of students rallied at a mosque in southern Thailand yesterday to demand justice for the deaths of 85 protesters a decade ago, a tragedy rights groups say is fuelling a violent insurgency.

The anti-government protest on October 25, 2004 in Tak Bai town in Narathiwat province was one of the bloodiest days in a conflict that has left 6,100 people dead in Thailand's Muslim-majority south.

Seven people were shot dead as security forces broke up the scene, while 78 protesters were suffocated or crushed to death after being stacked on top of each other in army trucks bound for neighbouring Pattani province, their hands bound.

No one from the security forces has faced charges over the deaths.

Around 100 Muslim students gathered peacefully inside the courtyard of a mosque in Pattani yesterday, raising placards asking for justice as well as singing songs and reciting poems and prayers.

"We want to know why they were transported in that way... Tak Bai victims still haven't received justice," said Chalida Tajaroensuk, director of the People's Empowerment Foundation which organised a seminar about the killings earlier on Saturday.

Human Rights Watch also demanded justice for the victims.

"Thailand's failure to prosecute security personnel responsible for the Tak Bai killings is a glaring injustice that brings the police, military, and courts into disrepute," said Brad Adams, HRW Asia director, adding this had "fuelled conditions for the insurgency".

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