Voices of Tak Bai: 15th anniversary of the Tak Bai massacre

Documented by the Cross-Cultural Foundation

Mr. Mahreeghee Dorloh

“On 25th October 2004, I was in the car heading to Tabah Market to buy clothes for the Raya celebration. When the car passed by the Tak Bai District Police Station, I heard a fired shot into the sky. Police approached me and told me to get out from the car and assemble at the Tak Bai river with the protesters. The situation was intensified. The authority started to disperse the crowd. My left eyebrow got hurt by the stones and my eyes suffered from tear gas. I quickly ran into the river to clean my eyes, then someone shout ‘Brother, head down! Watch out the bullets!’. When I turned back, I saw a person was shot in the cheeks. I might was shot in the legs at the same time but I was not aware at all.

Later on, the authority ordered everyone in the river to take the shirts off, lie prostrate with the hands tied behind the backs and crawl on the pavement until reaching at the front of a 10-wheel truck. We were kicked to lie down over each other for about five layers, I was lying down at the second layer. One person, who was also taken into the truck, was in pain and cried, the military officers came near him and then stepped over and hit his head with a gun butt. They said stop crying otherwise the car will not move so we have to bear the pain from being layered.

At that time, I did not know where we were taken to. I only knew it was so long and long enough that all my tears and bleeding were gone but we yet to arrive. I could only stay still and recall Allah. Persons under my layer shout for help. They must were in severe pain but we could not help. I also heard their very last breath. I became unconscious. I recovered when I was in the ICU room at the Prince of Songkla University in Hat Yai. When I woke up, I just felt starving. When I saw myself, I quickly turned to mom and asked ‘Why do not I have legs anymore? Why my hands are like this? I was hospitalized for three months before being discharged. Just after I discharged from hospital, I had a nightmare every night.

Before that, I often helped my mom doing a rubber tapping but now my hands can barely hold stuff. My major right hand was functional but not now.  I have to switch to have my left hand doing a rubber tapping instead. I cannot take care of myself like before. When I was a kid, I love playing football and running. Actually I was a 100-meter athletic runner. I liked running to race with motorcycles. But now when I see people running passing my house, I do not even want to have a look…

About two years ago, the military in black outfits raided my house. They had a CCTV footage linking that I involved in military shooting at Cho-airong [District]. They told me to bring two prosthetic legs to prove that I am handicapped, still they did not believe. They kept touching them for so long and did not seem to be convinced at all. Look at my hands! How can I would grab a gun? I could not…even just a simple object.”     

 “Are you still mad?” (asked by the nterviewer)

“Same question posed by the military officers. I could only smile, not a word from me. If I did something wrong, they probably have the right to arrest me. But this was excessive, they did like we were not human (paused). Pain in my heart cannot be forgotten like a scar that will be long-lasting with me.  ”
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Mr. Mahreeghee Dorloh is one of the affected persons by the Tak Bai tragedy occurred on 25th October 2004. The tragedy started when there was a protest calling for justice for six local village security guards, who were accused of stealing the government-issued rifles. The officials dispersed the crowd and arrested over 1,370 individuals and transported them to from Tak Bai to Ingkhayutthabariharn Military Camp in Pattani. Seven people died during the protest crackdown, 78 people died while being transported, seven people disappeared and many people were injured.


Mrs. Mae Whani

“Two days before the Tak Bai incident, I woke up in the middle of the night because I heard my husband was crying. Asked what happened, he said he had a nightmare. He dreamed he died and his dead body turned dark and rotten with no teeth. I did not take it seriously at that time. On the next day, he sent me off at the train station to visit my relatives in Ratchaburi Province. When I arrived to Ratchaburi, I got a call from my family saying my husband died. His dad was on the way to take his dead body back from Ingkhayutthabariharn Military Camp in Pattani. I was rushing to rent a van from Ratchaburi back home. When I heard the news, I cried all the way until I vomited so badly. I could barely walk. The doctor gave me a saline drip.

Our family got to see his dead body on the first day because he had his ID card with him. I saw his body at the bathing ceremony and it was just like what he told earlier when he had a nightmare…dark swollen and no tooth left body. I noticed a gunshot wound at his belly but our family was not informed by the officials what happened to him.

My little one liked to put a pillow for his dad and me almost every day. He was so little and did not get that his dad was gone, so he just put a pillow as he did as usual. I almost lose my mind when I saw that. My bigger one was in Grade 9 at that time. When the military came to our home after my husband’s death, he was shaking in angry and fear.


After the incident, many government organizations offered remedies including scholarship or financial compensation but the life remains unchanged. I still cannot forget what has happened. It took about eight years until my mind would get better. Still, I miss my late husband every single day. When I walk pass a qubur (Muslim graveyard) which is opposite to my house, I still miss him every time.

I feel better now, but the officials visit my house quite often. They think a bandit lives in this house, maybe. When I married my new husband, they asked for his information. They once came to our house, pointed the gun at my head and asked do my husband and I really love each other. This recalled my bad memory, just like the Tak Bai incident.”  

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Mrs. Mae Whani or ‘Kha Yah’ (Kha means sister in Malay language) is one of the affected persons by the Tak Bai tragedy occurred on 25th October 2004. The tragedy started when there was a protest calling for justice for six local village security guards, who were accused of stealing the government-issued rifles. The officials dispersed the crowd and arrested over 1,370 individuals and transported them to from Tak Bai to Ingkhayutthabariharn Military Camp in Pattani. Seven people died during the protest crackdown, 78 people died while being transported, seven people disappeared and many people were injured. The affected persons are not only those who died, disappeared and injured but also their family and love ones like the case of Kha Yah.

Paosee

“When the people protested in front of the police station, I was praying at nearby pavilion. When I was done, I saw the situation got worse. The officials began to disperse the crowd. I was aware again when I was shot in my face. It was chaotic. Some people escaped and fled to the river but I could not because I was injured. I did not know what to do so I played dead. I overheard the officials said I am a protest leader at the Krue Se [mosque] attack and then they seized my bag and ID card.      

The bullet pressed over the nerve at my left eye, making my vision not so clear since then. These days, if I work hard, then my tears would unstoppably run down. My three fingers injured by bullets are not regularly functional. I cannot make a fist anymore. I have to switch my major right hand to left hand to do rubber tapping so my work is slower than before. It took over five years for medical treatment. Sometimes, the officials came back. Often, they were around to monitor my house. Sometimes I was threatened, looked down or mocked for being a former suspect.”

“If you can, would you choose to remember or forget what has happened? (asked by the interviewer) 
 
“If I can, I would choose to remember because I have started to be able to take it. But I still remember such incident every day. I feel the pain. I think I am innocent. What the officials have done to the people is unfair. I received partial financial compensation as my name was listed as an injured person but the process was delayed and the compensation was not enough. I am not satisfied anyway if I received money. There has been a question in my head that the value of my life could only trade with this amount of money? I do not think money can reinstate my feeling. I never forget. We have never done something wrong.”
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“Paosee” is one of the affected persons by the Tak Bai tragedy occurred on 25th October 2004. The tragedy started when there was a protest calling for justice for six local village security guards, who were accused of stealing the government-issued rifles. The officials dispersed the crowd and arrested over 1,370 individuals and transported them to from Tak Bai to Ingkhayutthabariharn Military Camp in Pattani. Seven people died during the protest crackdown, 78 people died while being transported, seven people disappeared and many people were injured.

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