Shura Council Delegation Meets Thai Consul General

Los Angeles: A Shura Council delegation led by its Chairman Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi met with Mr. Isinthorn Sornvai, the Consul General of Thailand in Los Angeles, on Thursday, October 28. Accompanying Dr. Siddiqi were Imam Saadiq Saafir, Vice Chair of Shura Council, and Shakeel Syed, a Majlis Member.

The meeting took place following the tragic death of 78 people, mostly Muslims from the Pattani province, Thailand’s mainly Muslim south. The dead were among the 1500 protestors who were demanding the release of six Thais who were earlier arrested on the charge of stealing weapons from a naval base.

Shura Council delegation led by Dr Muzammil
Siddiqui with the Thai Consul General

The approximate 1300 people detained were handcuffed and piled in five level human bodies in small trucks. Most of the Muslims were fasting at the time. Army deputy commander Maj-Gen Sinchai Nujsathit admitted that “we had more than 1,300 people packed into the six-wheel trucks” for a journey to Pattani province that took five hours. 80% of the victims died from ssuffocation and the rest from convulsions. In addition to the 78 people dying from suffocation, six others were shot dead by the Police.

The Shura Council recorded its deep concern on the brutality of the law enforcement agencies in handling the protest rally. The delegation handed a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister of Thailand that enumerated the following points:

A “rigorous and independent” inquiry be immediately initiated to investigate, (a) belligerent approach of the law enforcement, (b) the inhumane treatment during and after the arrest, and (c) ensuing murder of 78 people and the consequent and perpetual misery that it has brought to their families.

1. Those suspected to have caused this mayhem should be immediately suspended pending full independent investigations.

2. Those found responsible (post-investigations) be fully held accountable to the law and be relieved of the privilege to serve their country.

3. Immediate release of the remaining detainees.

4. Unconditional and immediate apology by Prime Minister Thaksin to the citizens of Thailand and the international community.

The Consul General Thailand expressed his deep sorrow toward the loss of life and assured the delegation that his Government will thoroughly investigate the causes of the tragedy. The Consul General also shared with the delegation a latest brief from Thailand’s Foreign Ministry. A copy of the brief was provided to the Shura Council that says:”It is most likely that the deaths were caused by the way they were transported.”

Referring to the brief, the delegation demanded that an “independent” investigation by NGO Human Rights Groups such as Amnesty International must be conducted rather than by a Government-appointed commission.

The delegation also advised the Consul General that unless political grievances are addressed and a constructive dialog is initiated, subsequent tragedies might reoccur.

The Consul General thanked the Shura Council delegation for visiting him and said that he and his Prime Minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra “deeply regret the heavy loss of life and admitted that mistakes were made as hundreds were crammed into trucks.”

The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California is an independent organization serving the Muslims of Southern California since 1995. It promotes better communications, understanding, cooperation, and coordination among the leaders representing Muslim communities in Southern California. There are over 60 Islamic Centers, Masajids and Muslim organizations in Southern California serving half a million Muslims.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.