Yala Murders; Hmong Repatriations; Lottery Arguments

Three people have been shot dead and five more wounded when terrorists opened fire on a tea-house in Yala. M-16 and AK-47 rifles were apparently used in the shooting, undertaken by two men on the back of a pick-up truck. More than 3,000 people have now been killed in the insurgency since weapons were stolen from an army base in 2004. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has blamed the army for blocking an enquiry into the death of Imam Yapa Koseng. So many people have been killed, according to the Rights group, that there should be some strong evidence in some cases at least and this would be an opportunity for the army leadership to show its good faith. It has, consequently, failed to do so. The army launched a military coup in 2006 and many people have been killed and disappeared over the years without prosecutions being brought.

215 Hmong people will be repatriated to Laos on a more or less voluntary basis. UN observers seem to have found the treatment provided by Thai authorities acceptable, although the Hmong did burn down their own shelters the other day in a protest against their treatment. Many of the Hmong fear (with some justification) persecution by the Pathet Lao government for having fought on the side of the US in the Second Indochinese War (as we are going to call the Vietnam War here).

More controversy about the lottery: hundreds of ticket vendors have been protesting in front of the Finance Ministry concerning new arrangements and Minister Surapong Suebwonglee has promised to look into it all again. The vendors make their money as intermediaries in the sale of tickets, wandering from place to place with the wooden folders of tickets around their necks. People buy two tickets for 100 baht, when their actual cost is 80 baht but pay the extra because the vendors come to them and because they can choose the numbers they like. It was a previous attempt to regulate the lottery properly that has been used as one of the nuisance charges brought by the junta-appointed Asset Scrutiny Committee to try to persecute democratically-re-elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.