UPDATE: Following the targeted shooting of community-based human rights defender Supoj Karasong, on Friday 8th April 2016, the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand (SPFT) has taken measures to care for Supoj Karasang, as well as to lobby relevant authorities to take action to investigate on the attack and provide protection for Khlong Sai Pattana community and SPFT leaders. Mr. Supoj, at the time of writing, is convalescing in Surat Thani Hospital. He had an operation on Friday night, and he is now conscious and doing okay.
So far, Chaiburi District Police has taken some steps towards investigating the targeted shooting of Mr. Supoj. Approximately an hour after the attack 10 police officers came to the incident scene and stayed for 1 hour. They found one bullet head inside the victim’s car, the other 8 bullets were in Mr. Supoj’s body. District police interviewed a Khlong Sai Pattana community member who was nearby when the attack happened. On Sunday 10th April 2016, at approximately 20:00, Chaiburi District Police officers came to interview Mr. Supoj in the hospital room.
On Monday 11th April 2016, SPFT Steering Committee members and Protection International submitted a joint complaint letter to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) – Subcommittee on Civil Rights Chairperson, Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit. The letter requests that the NHRCT follow up on the Chaiburi District Police investigation and coordinate with relevant authorities to provide urgent protection measures to support Mr. Supoj, his family, Khlong Sai Pattana community members, and SPFT leaders. The letter also seeks the NHRCT’s coordination with the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) to take up the cases of the 5 Khlong Sai Pattana human rights defenders who have been victims of targeted shootings over the past six years.
In a press conference afterwards Commissioner Angkhana Neelapijit said that it is her opinion as NHRCT Commissioner that DSI should take up the case of the SPFT community as influential people are involved in the aggressions against then community-based human rights defenders. The involvement of influential people in this case means that it is within DSI’s duty to take on these cases. The SPFT has submitted a request to meet with the DSI Director of the Complaints Department, Mr Banthit, at 10:00 AM on Tuesday 12th April 2016. We await the update of this meeting.
Protection International has received information from the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand (SPFT), that Mr Supoj Kanlasong (nicknamed Kai, 41 years) was shot and severely injured outside Khong Sai Pattana community, Moo 2, Saithong Sub-district, Chaiburi district, Suratthani province on Friday 8th April 2016 at approximately 14:45.
Mr Supoj was shot in his car (see pictures). Mr Supoj was hit eight times, 6 times in the leg and 2 in the arm. He has been taken to Chaiburi Hospital and his condition is being medically assessed. At the time of the alert, the doctor was transferring Mr Supoj to Surat Thani Provincial Hospital. Mr Supoj is a main community leader under death threat. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Urgent Appeal on 1st April 2015, the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand (SPFT) and AHRC alerted that he is one of the main community leaders under death threat.
Mr Supoj is the 5th community-based human rights defender victim of a targeted shooting in the past 6 years from Khlong Sai Pattana community. This latest targeted shooting of an SPFT member from Khlong Sai Pattana, and the failure of Thai authorities to bring anyone to justice for the past six years, require urgent action. Mr Supoj is the nephew-in-law of Mr Chai Bunthonglek who was killed on 11th February 2015. Mr Supoj is a main witness in the Black/Red Case 1273/2558 opened on 21st May 2015 by Wiang Sra Public Prosecutor into the murder of Mr Chai.
Mr Supoj testified in front of Wiang Sra Provincial Court on 28th and 29th January 2016 as a witness brought forward by Wiang Sra Public Prosecutor Mr. Akrom Pangjam. During the court proceedings, a suspect identified during the police investigation but not charged by the Public Prosecutor Wiang Sra, Mr Sunthorn came to Wiang Sra Provincial Court. The community believes that Mr Sunthorn is an alleged broker of the murder of Uncle Chai Bunthonglek, and has been allegedly involved and or behind numerous acts of intimidation and murders of land rights activists in Surat Thani, including against the SPFT.
According to the investigation by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, and from information received by the NHRCT from the Chaiburi District Police Station, the local Police already has a profile of Mr Supoj Kanlasong.
At the time of this alert, we urge the human rights community to immediately contact and follow-up with the Chaiburi District Police Station in Surat Thani province to ensure that they immediately carry out an effective investigation to apprehend and collect evidence on the gunmen.
We also urge the human rights community to contact the Surat Thani Governor so that he acts immediately in coordination with the police to protect Khlong Sai Pattana community and apprehend the culprits.
The community is very concerned that the gunmen who shot Mr Supoj are still in the area around Khlong Sai Pattana. Thai authorities have completely failed to hold anyone accountable for the killings of the 4 members of the Khlong Sai Pattana community in the past six years. We hope that this information can bring the human rights community to take action to call on Thai authorities to protect SPFT community-based HRDs.
- Superintendent, Chaiburi District Police Station – Pol. Lt. Chawalit Thongma Tel: +66 77367120
- Governor, Surat Thani Province – Mr. Wongsasiri Promchana Tel: +66 77272176 Mobile: +66 892030403 Home: +66 77272111
- Khlong Sai Pattana Committee, Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand – Mr. Theeranet Chaisuwan Tel: +66 985524303
Background on the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand:
The SPFT was set up in 2008 to pursue the decades-long peasant movement for the rights and dignity of farmers, in a democratic society and State, and in a fairer economic system than present-day capitalism. The SPFT serves as a consciousness-raising, mobilizing, and coordinating organization for peasants in the South of Thailand to claim their rights to land, especially in the form of communal land titles, from the State on expired corporate concession lands. Since its creation, the SPFT has organized and supported the creation and development of 6 agricultural communities in Surat Thani and Nakhon Sri Thammarat provinces, South Thailand, including Khlong Sai Pattana community. These communities are democratically, and communally organized by peasants who have been made destitute and landless as a result of the capitalist system in the South. Furthermore, through the shared use and division of agricultural land, tools, and tasks, these agricultural communities are a project of empowerment of peasants as they create a system for agricultural production, care for the land, and political economy, which guarantees a fair distribution of resources and equal respect for rights, dignity, and livelihoods for peasants as any other class in society.