A former police officer perpetrated a massacre that left 37 dead (including 23 children). The condolences of Pope Francis and his “spiritual closeness to all those affected by this unspeakable act of violence”. The accusations question the selection methods, the abuse of power, the use of narcotics and the proliferation of weapons.
Bangkok () – Thailand is in a state of shock. The authorities confirm the death of 37 people, including 23 children, in the massacre perpetrated by a former police officer on the afternoon of October 6. The massacre took place in a kindergarten in Uthai Sawan, in the northern province of Nong Bua Lamphu. After the attack, the man killed himself with the same firearm that he used, along with a knife, for the criminal act of which his wife and his son were also victims. At least ten people were injured and five of them are in serious condition. In the afternoon King Rama X is expected to visit the hospital where the victims are, and where he will meet with his families.
After the events, the Thai Church issued a statement – which we received through the agency Licas- through the head of the Office of Social Communications of the Episcopal Conference, Monsignor Joseph Pratan Sridarunsil. The spokesman referred to “a horrific event”; “I never thought something like this could happen in our country,” he added. Pope Francis also added his condolences, in a telegram sent by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, to the apostolic nunciature in Bangkok. In the telegram, in English, the Pope offered “his deepest condolences to him and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this unspeakable act of violence against innocent children.” And he assured his prayers so that “in this moment of immense sadness, they can count on the support and strength of the solidarity of their neighbors and fellow citizens.”
Thailand, in mourning, also wonders about the reasons that led former police corporal Panya Khamrab to commit such an act. The officer had been expelled from the force for his violent temper and drug addiction. The country’s attention is not only focused on the attacker’s personal motives, but also on other long-debated issues.
One of the issues on the table is how to select and train the Thai police and armed forces, responsible on several occasions for violent acts against civilians that are unjustifiable in their role. As an example, it is enough to remember the murder of 29 civilians and the 58 wounded on February 8 and 9, 2020 in Nakhon Ratchasima, in the massacre perpetrated by a soldier who came into conflict with his superiors. Too often, behavioral instability, alcohol or drug use, and dissatisfaction with working conditions are underestimated. The same happens with the delegation of power over civilians, which can encourage attitudes of imposition and abuse.
Another question has to do with the availability of weapons, even more so in the case of individuals identified as problematic within the security apparatus. Added to this is a culture of taking justice into one’s own hands, which violates the teachings of Buddhism, the creed of the majority of Thais.