Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Just another day of news as 16 year old is burnt to death

Living in Thailand can make one immune to some shocking news stories.

Atrocities, bribery, gang wars, government coups, police brutality and more, the news in Thailand regularly produces the type of news that would hold the attention of the press. Yet here, tragic news is often just another tragic story.

Take for example this story from The Nation, a newspaper which I readily admit to having little time for, reporting that Thai soldiers shot a teenage Cambodian boy before burning him to death.

What crime could possibly produce such a 'punishment', if you can call being shot and killed in the most inhumane way, that is.

Did he kill a man? Perhaps he shot at a soldier? Maybe he was carrying a bomb, or a terrorist.

It is alleged that the boy, who was just 16 years old, was chopping down trees on the Thai side of the border with Cambodia.

The governor of the Cambodian border province has rightly asked why the boy was burnt alive when he had already been arrested?

There has been no response from the Thai embassy in Cambodia, and none is likely.

This may be news those who do not live in this part of the world but Thai society is incredibly class and race oriented. Foreigners from neighbouring states like Cambodia and Burma (Myanmar) are considered to be the lowest of the low - typified by their dark skin which, in Thailand, is a sign of poverty as it indicates the individual has had a life of working outdoors and is, therefore, poor.

Of course, immigrants from neighbouring countries are not saints. But they are humans, they come to Thailand illegally, yes, but the motive is to better their lives and the lives of their families. There is no justification for what happened to this 16 year old boy.

There should be a public investigation and punishment should be given to those responsible for this atrocity.

But this is Thailand, a country in which racially motivated killings occur almost daily on the southern border, a country which is engaged in a political civil war, a country which has failed to convict activists who sieged the country's main airport plunging the country in chaos.

This news is likely to receive little attention with the country focused on Saturday, the 3rd anniversary of the coup which ousted then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.


Martyn said...

Jon this is the first I have heard of this one and I'm deeply shocked by it. In a land where the dominant faith is by far Buddhism, this act was carried out by what you would assume to be trained and disciplined personnel and that makes it all the more appalling. A bad day for Thailand and a terrible and inhumane death for a young lad who was merely trying to better his and no doubt his family's life.

Jon said...


Agree, this is terrible news. I've seen nothing on this at all in the media. Bigger fish to fry I. Makes this all the more tragic.

Jungle Girl said...

Great post, Johnny. Unfortunately far too common a story. Recently a burmese man was nearly beaten to death in our village for stealing a bottle of whiskey. Burmese people have been killed here for much less. I can't write about it unfortunately because of who did the killing, my blog has already been causing problems for me. Its so sad that in such a buddhist, purporting to be peaceful, country there is so much inhumanity.
And that it goes ignored because of the perceived worthlessness of the victims is a disgrace to this country.

Jon said...

Thanks for the comment, Natalie.

You've certainly tackled some big issues in your blog, very well I might add. Are you able to talk about the problems you've experienced?

It makes me sick to think that Westerners are treated so well (most of the time) yet Burmese, Cambodians, anyone with darker skin really, are subjected to attitudes and prejudice from centuries ago.

There is a backwards element to Thailand and, living outside of major cities, it is more widespread and visible.

Thailand is also riddled with inconsistencies, as you mention Buddhism preaches tolerance and restraint. I do love living here but you begin to see the wood from the trees after a while.

familyonthemove said...

Great blog - but the issues you raise are not confined to Thailand. I was in India recently and a woman was beaten to death on live TV news, the female birth rate in some Indian states is only 800 to every 1000 males and dowry deaths are common. Similar stories from Cambodia, Indonesia and probably worse from Burma. It's a tough world outside of the shopping malls of the US and UK.

Jon said...

Hi familyonthemove,

You're right, these attitudes are not exclusive to Thailand perhaps with its reputation as Land of the Smiles people assume that everyone is happy and lovely behind the smile?