Trang Inmates Riot over Mistreatment

February 7, 2012

Nearly 600 Trang Prison inmates ran amok as they torched their sleeping quarters yesterday to protest against poor treatment.

The riot, led by more than 40 inmates, developed from a brawl among prisoners around 7.30am in the second zone of the jail.

The unrest quickly escalated into a large-scale protest with most of the 600 inmates in the sleeping quarters joining in.

They set ablaze bedding, threw objects out of the detention area, and demanded Trang governor Seni Chittakasem meet them.

Firemen with 15 fire trucks battled the blaze.

They could not easily put out the fire because they feared for their safety if they walked deeper into the prison quarters where hundreds of angry inmates were still running riot.

The firemen kept their distance from the protesters, as they hosed the fire to try to stop it expanding. Mr Seni arrived at the prison at 10.30am as hundreds of wardens, police, soldiers and defence volunteers were told to join forces and surround the prison.

The inmates called off their riot in mid-afternoon after talks between the governor and the inmates.

No one was injured in the riot, and the prison did not sustain any structural damage.

The inmates handed him an eight-point list of demands, including the transfer of Ekkasit Chailak, a new warden in the second zone. They said the transfer was needed to “decrease tension”.

Mr Seni said wardens must maintain a tough stance towards prisoners as the Department of Corrections attempts to curb drug offences in jails, which are increasing. The wardens have to inspect all items sent to inmates and must make sure none slip through.

The protesters also wanted the prison to improve the quality of food and water served to inmates.

Mr Seni said some of the demands could not be handled immediately as he would have to forward them to relevant agencies.

However, he added, most of the demands came under the department’s jurisdiction, especially the call for better food and water, which is supervised by the prison director.

Corrections Department director-general Suchart Wongananchai said prisoners could have merely asked for better food and water, without the need to stage a demonstration. Security officers are guarding the prison to prevent a recurrence of the riot.

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