Two Inmates Killed in Pattani Prison Riot

September 6, 2011

Two inmates at Pattani Central Prison were killed yesterday in a riot fuelled by tensions between Muslim and Buddhist inmates. The conflict culminated with prison authorities last night agreeing to move the prison’s 39 Buddhist inmates who were involved in fighting with Muslim rioters to a Songkhla jail.

The clash started after the prison decided to appoint a Buddhist inmate to help warders inspect the prison. Reports said more than 40 prisoners started attacking five fellow inmates, who later fled to the roof of a dormitory. Three of them accidentally fell from the roof and were seriously injured as a result. The three were reportedly beaten by the rioting inmates. One was found dead at the scene; the other two were seriously wounded. One of the injured inmates later died in hospital.

Prison warders were unable to help those attacked inside the prison as they were outnumbered by the rioters. The number of rioters swelled to about 200 after officers were forced to release more prisoners from the Narathiwat and Yala blocks. Officers said some rioting prisoners were pounding on the walls in an attempt to escape. More than 300 police, soldiers and officials from other areas were deployed to the prison to help control the situation, said Pattani Central Prison chief Arwut Suwanno.

A prison source said the riot began with a scuffle between a group of Muslim inmates and a group of Buddhist inmates who had been selected to be warder assistants. Muslim rioters claimed the warder assistants led by Phanuwat Khong-in had treated them unfairly, particularly in relation to food allocation. Phanuwat was one of the two inmates killed in the riot.

Muslim inmates wrote a letter to the prison’s executives and senior provincial administrators, saying they would end the riot if executives agreed to their demands. They demanded changes in the way inmates are regulated in prison, wanted harsh regulations to be relaxed and said inmates assigned to manage the prison’s kitchen must be Muslims.

They also demanded that prisoners assigned to help warders inspect inmates’ belongings and those in other prison units be replaced with Muslims. Senior provincial administrators led by Pattani deputy governor Lertkiat Wongpopan and prison executives agreed to accept the inmates’ demands, and the prisoners called off their riot.

Source: Bangkok Post

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