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The "Red Drum" or "Red Barrel" killings (Thai language:เผาถังแดง, rtgsPhao Thang Daeng) refers to the mass killing of more than 200[1] (informal accounts speak of up to 3,000)[2][3] civilians who were accused of supporting communists by Thai government forces in Tambon Lam Sai, Phatthalung Province, southern Thailand, in late 1972, under the military dictatorship of Thanom Kittikachorn and Praphas Charusathien.[2] The massacre was probably ordered by the government's Communist Suppression Operations Command (CSOC),[1] with army, police, and volunteer defence forces being implicated in it.[4]

It was only one example "of a pattern of widespread abuse of power by the army and enforcement agencies"[5] during the brutal anti-communist operations of 1971–73 that took an official death toll of 3,008 civilians throughout the country[1] (while unofficial estimates are between 1,000 and 3,000 in Phatthalung Province alone).[3] Those killed were accused of working with the illegal Communist Party of Thailand and supporting its insurgency.

Until that point, communist suspects arrested by soldiers were normally shot by the roadside. The "red oil drum" technique was later introduced to eliminate any possible evidence. Suspects were clubbed to a point of semi-consciousness before being dumped in gasoline-filled, used oil drums and burnt alive.[6][7]

The 200-litre red drums had an iron grille divider; there was a fire below, and the suspect above.[8]

Even after the end of military rule in the wake of the October 1973 Thai popular uprising, the killings were never seriously investigated and none of the perpetrators was punished.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jularat Damrongviteetham (2013). Narratives of the "Red Barrel" Incident. pp. 101. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tyrell Haberkorn (2013). Getting Away with Murder in Thailand. p. 186. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Matthew Zipple (2014). "Thailand's Red Drum Murders Through an Analysis of Declassified Documents". p. 91. 
  4. Summary of World Broadcasts: Far East, Part 3. Monitoring Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. 1976. 
  5. Kim, Sung Chull; Ganesan, Narayanan (2013). State Violence in East Asia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 259. ISBN 9780813136790. 
  6. "[untitled]". The Bangkok Post. 30 March 1975. 
  7. Peagam, Norman (14 March 1975). "Probing the 'Red Drum' Atrocities". Far Eastern Economic Review. 
  8. "POLITICS: Thailand Remembers a Dictator". Inter Press Service. 18 June 2004. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  9. Tyrell Haberkorn (2013). Getting Away with Murder in Thailand. pp. 186–187. 

Further readingEdit

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