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Lahu youth’s friends stunned by sudden killing

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Lahu youth’s friends stunned by sudden killing
By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA
THE NATION

 

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Chaiyapoom

 

BANGKOK: -- A LAHU boy who appeared to have beaten every bad deal in his life – from a broken family to the lack of citizenship – has become yet another victim of the brutal justice system in the far North.

 

The death of Chaiyapoom Pasae on Friday has saddened everyone who knew him. None of his close friends believes the Army’s claim that soldiers manning the checkpoint killed Chaiyapoom because he was involved in drug dealing or other illicit activity.

 

“We were shocked that he was killed,” Panachai Janta, a coordinator for health security for indigenous people in Thailand, said.

His group and its allies have vowed to fight for justice for their friend. 

 

Maitree Charoensuksakul, chair of the Lahu Conservation Group in Chiang Mai province, spoke yesterday just before he joined local people and teachers who buried Chaiyapoom’s body in his hometown in line with Lahu traditions.

 

“He had been under my care, living under my roof, for more than 10 years,” Maitree said. “Not only had I never seen him abuse drugs, but I had also seen him wage several campaigns against narcotic substances.” 

 

Local residents remember how Chaiyapoom worked hard outside class hours to support his family in Chiang Dao district. 

 

“He was a breadwinner. His father left him when he was still very young. His mother is too ill to work. His stepfather had psychiatric conditions and needed treatment,” Maitree said.

 

He said that although Chaiyapoom was registered as 21 years old on his official documents, his real age was estimated to be just 17 or 18. 

 

Because of overcrowding at his small house, Chaiyapoom had moved into Maitree’s home in the same neighbourhood, where he had lived until last month.

 

“He just moved out because my younger brother built a new house and could bring along some kids,” Maitree said.

 

Chaiyapoom was a good boy, he said, someone willing to work hard to support his family who was also keen to make the world a better place to live in.

 

A Mathayom 4 student at the Chiang Dao Wittayakhom School, Chaiyapoom had been a young activist for a good cause. 

 

With a skill for music, he had promoted Lahu people’s pride in their cultural roots and public understanding in Lahu in the hope of removing the widespread portrayals of Lahu people as drug-engaged hilltribe folk. Indeed, he chaired the Indigenous Role-Model Youth Network. 

 

But after beating several odds to make meaningful contributions to the society he lived in, Chaiyapoom succumbed to an extrajudicial killing that soldiers linked to a drug-related operation. 

 

Panachai argued that Chaiyapoom simply went past the checkpoint manned by soldiers that day because he had to do some activities with his schoolmate who was also in the school’s musical band. 

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/national/30309717

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-03-21

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Calls for truth on Lahu killing
By Nisanart Kangwanwong,
Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

 

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Photos of Chaiyapoom Pasae, chair of the Indigenous Role-Model Youth Network, who died at the hands of soldiers last Friday in an extrajudicial killing allegedly linked to drugs.

 

Police charge soldier for fatal SHOOTING; Army said he had grenade

 

BANGKOK: -- PRESSURE has mounted on the military to give a clear explanation on the extrajudicial killing of young Lahu activist Chaiyapoom Pasae, after police charged the soldier who fired the fatal bullet. Many ethnic activists and lawyers have called for justice.

 

Chaiyapoom, officially 21 years old but possibly 16 or 17, was shot dead on Friday in northwest Chiang Mai province. Military personnel claimed they shot in self-defence as the activist, whom they described as a drug dealer, was about to throw a hand grenade at them.

 

According to officials, troops who set up a checkpoint in the province’s Chiang Dao district found 2,800 methamphetamine tablets in a black car, of which Chaiyapoom was an occupant.

 

As they were about to arrest the activist and the car driver Phongsanai Saengtala, 19, Chaiyapoom got out of the car and ran away, according to the chief of Na Wai police station in Chonlathep Maithai district.

 

Three soldiers chased him, fired into the air first but then aimed at him as they saw the young man was about to throw the grenade, he said.

 

“He was shot in the left flank and the bullet remained in his body,” the police chief said, noting that police had no record of Chaiyapoom’s involvement in drug crimes. An autopsy was done at Nakhonping Hospital in Chiang Mai before a Christian funeral was held for the young man yesterday.

 

Police later interrogated and charged a soldier with intentional killing before transferring him to his unit at Pichit Preechakorn camp in Chiang Dao district.

 

People who knew Chaiyapoom said there was no reason to suspect that he was involved in illicit activities because he had campaigned against drug-use since his childhood.

 

He was awarded a prize at the 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival for a short film called “Belt and Comb”, and several of his short documentaries were broadcast on Thai PBS. Chaiyapoom was also a gifted songwriter who composed ethnic folk songs about his community, they said.

 

The detained driver, Phongsanai, told activists who visited him over the weekend that he drove the car together with roommate Chaiyapoom on their regular route to Chiang Mai city after music activities at school in Chiang Dao. He had no idea about the narcotics, according to the activists.

 

Networks for indigenous people in Thailand have pledged to fight for justice in the young man’s death. “We have already appointed a lawyer for this case. We will fight to the end,” said Panachai Janta, a coordinator for health security for indigenous people in Thailand.

 

Meanwhile, the Army denied overreacting or using excessive force in the fatal shooting. “From the information we have received, he [Chaiyapoom] not only resisted officials’ operations but also tried to attack officials. The shooting was an act of self-defence,” Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said yesterday.

 

Cross-Cultural Foundation chairman and a lawyer in the case, Surapong Kongchantuk, said that human rights campaigners in the area had been having conflicts with the military for a long time.

 

“Chaiyapoom was a young, dedicated activist who led the Lahu youth group to publicise the problems of his ethnic minority. I did not work directly with him, but I can see that he was a good young man and not the kind of person who would get involved with drugs,” Surapong said.

 

Although Chaiyapoom’s body was already buried, the lawyer would ask for any signs of physical injury revealed by the autopsy to be used as evidence in the case.

 

“We intend to find the truth about his death and we also ask the military to not interfere in the justice system,” Surapong said.

 

Earlier reports said people in Ban Kongpakping had a dispute with the military at one time.

 

Chaiyapoom’s guardian Maitree Chareonsuksakul was sued by the army for violating the Computer Crime Act, after Maitree uploaded a video of soldiers slapping local |people on the Internet. Maitree was acquitted of the charge at Chiang Mai Court last year.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/national/30309727

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-03-21

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3 hours ago, webfact said:

“Not only had I never seen him abuse drugs, but I had also seen him wage several campaigns against narcotic substances.” 

It looks as though "military intelligence" got confused or perhaps not.  At the very least, this reeks of trigger happy, poorly trained personnel.  Any Thai official with a gun should be avoided. 

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