Mother of killed Lahu teen calls on NHRC
Commissioner says activist beaten up by soldiers before kill
The mother of a Lahu activist shot dead by a soldier on March 17 on Saturday called for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to help probe the killing so that justice is done for her son and family.
According to NHRC commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit, who met her on Saturday at Ban Rin Luang, tambon Muang Na of Chiang Mai's Chiang Dao district, Chaiyapoom Pasae's mother, Napoi Pasae wept throughout their conversation about her son.
Ms Angkhana said other relatives of Chaiyapoom also demanded answers from authorities as to why they shot him to death. They want to see a fair and transparent investigation into the killing of Chaiyapoom.
Chaiyapoom, who was president of the Northern Traditional Plant Preservation Network, was shot dead by a soldier in Chiang Mai on March 17 at 10am at a checkpoint in tambon Muang Na in Chiang Dao district as he allegedly tried to attack the shooter with a hand grenade, according to police.
According to police, soldiers found 2,800 methamphetamine pills hidden in a car bearing a Chiang Mai licence plate in which Chaiyapoom and his friend, Pongnai Saengtala, 19, had been travelling.
Authorities were quick to defend the extra-judicial killing after it caught the public's attention.
Human rights advocates have slammed the state for defending the soldier, which they say is tantamount to endorsing extra-judicial killings.
Ms Angkhana said the NHRC' s panel on human rights protection has stepped in after it recently received a complaint from key witness Maitree Chamroensuksakul, also a Lahu activist, who said his life was in danger.
Ms Angkhana said that Mr Maitree, a neighbour of Chaiyapoom, was the one who called on the government to probe the case.
She said Mr Maitree told her that two men came to meet him at his house in tambon Muang Na and told him not to give more information on the death of Chaiyapoom.
Furthermore on March 22 Mr Maitree found a bullet in front of his house, a warning not to talk.
Ms Angkhana said she came to meet Mr Maitree to get first-hand information on the killing of Chaiyapoom and to help him go into a witness protection programme.
Ms Angkhana said she got fresh information that Chaiyapoom was beaten up by soldiers before he was shot dead. Some witnesses at the scene saw him being physically assaulted.
She said all information and evidence obtained relating to the case will be forwarded to another NHRC panel probing the killing, chaired by commissioner Chatchai Suthiklom.
Shortly after the extra-judicial killing of Chaiyapoom hit the headlines, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered a probe into the incident. He urged people to be sensible and wait for the results of the probe.
The army said that the Lahu activist was allegedly involved in the drug trade for more than a year. He was shot dead by a soldier because he allegedly tried to hurl a grenade at pursuing officers while trying to escape.