I was seven-months pregnant when Somjit was shot. I saw the shooting. It was very cruel. After my mother was killed, the police asked me to go to the district police station only once. They asked me if she was a drug dealer. I said my mother was a good person, she never sold drugs and knew anyone in that business. She also had no personal conflicts with anyone. That was the only time I was called in to talk to the police about my mother’s death.
The police told me that they received a tip-off about Somjit. They said a woman called them at night, around 10:00 p.m., on February 16, 2003, and told them that Somjit was a drug dealer and she was hiding ya baa [methamphetamine] in her shophouse. But the police never came to search our place. The next day Somjit was called by the police to go to the district police station to verify her name on the blacklist. Then my mother was killed three days later. On February 18, 2003, my neighbor was also killed. He was told to report to the police and verify his name on the blacklist as well. How could he be a drug dealer, he was very old and paralyzed?
- —The daughter of Somjit Khayandee, a 42-year-old woman killed on February 20, 2003
Late on January 31, 2003, Boonchuay Unthong and Yupin Unthong were shot and killed as they returned home with their son, Jirasak, eight years old, from a local fair . . . . Witnesses described seeing a man on the back of a motorcycle, wearing a ski mask, shoot Yupin, who was riding on the back of the family motorcycle. Boonchuay exhorted Jirasak to run away. Jirasak hid behind a fence and watched as the gunmen walked up to Boonchuay and executed him with a shot to the head. Convicted for a drug offense, Boonchuay had recently been released after 18 months in prison. It was subsequently discovered that Yupin and he had been placed on a government blacklist.
- —“Not Enough Graves,” p. 9
I could hear him [my boyfriend] being beaten. I heard the cops say, “Don’t fight back, just accept it. If you have drugs, just hand it over.” When he said he didn’t have any, they said, “Why did you throw them away?” He came out with handcuffs behind his back, all beaten up. I asked him, “Were you beaten?” and he said, “Yes, by three cops, after they handcuffed me.” . . . The police said, “You’re going to get busted for one thing or another today.”
- —Karn S., 25-year-old female injection-drug user
The confession said I was dealing drugs, even though I was not caught doing that. When I refused to sign, the police threatened to arrest every other member of my family. They said, “Don’t you love your family? You want to get your family into trouble? Why don’t you take the blame on your own instead of dragging your family into this?” So I confessed.
- —Tai P., a 28-year-old male injection-drug user
All my peers disappeared from the scene and hid themselves. It’s not like before when you could go outside and you knew who the drug users were . . . . Before, it was easy to find a group and know where the gathering place was. After the war on drugs, people disappeared because they didn’t feel safe.
- —Odd Thanunchai, a 26-year-old male recovering drug user and peer educator
Some drug users have told us that when they are in hiding, many risky behaviors happen . . . . I think they’re at greater risk of HIV, because it’s hard for individuals or organizations to work with this group now, including for research, education or access to health services . . . . Some heroin users switched drugs but continued to inject. Some started using ya baa or other pills. Some just turned to using strong alcohol like whiskey, which can cause accidents. When you’re hiding from the police, it’s very difficult to have drugs on you, so you need to use them in a hurry. This can cause overdose.
- —Mr. Anurak Boontaruk, coordinator of a drop-in center for drug users, Chiang Mai
It’s easier to get heroin in prison than outside. They have dealers inside prison. It’s not that expensive, about 400-500 baht [US$10-$12] per pack. It’s a bit more expensive outside. We get syringes from some medical station inside the prison. I took them myself, they were proper syringes. You need to share needles, there’s never enough. I’d share with over 50 people. I didn’t have a choice. When there’s only one, you have to use it. It’s not very sharp, but you have to use it.
- —Ngu T., a 23-year-old male drug user who tested positive for HIV in 2003
They will be put behind bars or even vanish without a trace. Who cares? They are destroying our country.
- —Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha, referring to drug dealers, January 2003
There is nothing under the sun which the Thai police cannot do. Because drug traders are ruthless to our children, so being ruthless back to them is not a bad thing . . . . It may be necessary to have casualties . . . . If there are deaths among traders, it’s normal.
- —Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in a speech at Ratchapat Suandusit Hall, Bangkok, January 14, 2003