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THAILAND, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Treaty

On 3 December 1997 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra signed the Mine Ban Treaty on behalf of the Kingdom of Thailand. On 27 November 1998 Thailand deposited its instrument of ratification at the United Nations, making Thailand the fifty-third nation, and first in Southeast Asia, to ratify the MBT.

A representative from the Foreign Ministry, in a report prepared for the ASEAN Regional Forum Intersessional Group on Confidence Building Measures held in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, from 4-6 November 1998 stated, “Thailand is determined to fulfill the obligations specified in the Convention, including the destruction of mine stockpiles and mines buried in the ground.”[4]

The new laws necessary to implement the treaty have been drafted and proposed to the Cabinet.[5] They must have Royal signature and proclamation in the Royal Gazette to make them functional. There was already domestic law, prior to the MBT, making it illegal for civilians to possess landmines.[6]

Thailand had been somewhat reluctant to embrace the Ottawa Process and the Mine Ban Treaty. It did not actively participate in the preparatory meetings throughout 1997, did not endorse the pro-ban treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997, and came to the Oslo negotiations in September 1997 only as an observer. However, Thailand did vote for the pro-ban UN General Assembly Resolutions in 1996 and 1997. It also supported the more recent 1998 UNGA resolution A/C.1/153/L.33 welcoming the addition of new states to the MBT, urging its full realization and inviting state parties to the First Meeting of State Parties in Mozambique.


A number of different sources have identified Thailand as a past producer of antipersonnel landmines, including the U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of State.[7] A U.S. Department of Defense data base released in July 1995 indicates that Thailand produced three types of antipersonnel mines. Model 123 Claymore-type mine; U/I TH (AP.1) blast mine; and U/I TH (AP.2) blast mine. The data base, available on CD-ROM, contains photographs and descriptions of the technical characteristics of the mines.[8]

In November 1998, a Thai Army officer stated that Thailand in the past produced only for training and research purposes, but has never produced landmines for operational use in battle.[9] The Thai military has stated Thailand is not producing APMs.[10] In 1998, the Thai U.N. ambassador said, “While being neither a producer nor exporter of landmines, Thailand nevertheless suffers acutely from the problem.”[11]


It is not believed that Thailand has exported landmines. A 1993 U.S. State Department communication said that while Thailand had not exported mines, it “may be attempting to sell [its] landmines abroad.”[12]

Thailand has imported antipersonnel mines from the United States, and perhaps other nations. According to U.S. Army documents, the U.S. shipped 437,166 antipersonnel mines to Thailand from 1969-1992. These were mostly M-18A1 Claymore mines which are not banned under the treaty when used in a command-detonated mode, but also included M-14 and M-16 antipersonnel mines, which are banned.[13]

Stockpiling and Destruction

According to a Thai military officer, mines are kept in six storage centers in the military armory department and eight storage facilities under the Royal Thai Army (RTA) Engineering Department.[14] Most of the stockpile of mines is held at Fort Bhanurangsri in Ratchaburi province. The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) and the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) also hold stockpiles of mines.[15]

The current stockpile apparently numbers approximately 400,000.[16] Details on mine types are not available.

The RTA, the RTN and the RTAF and the Ministry of Interior have prepared a plan to destroy stockpiled APMs within four to five years after authorization to destroy has been made.[17] The timing and quantity of mines to be destroyed has been considered. Some mines will be kept for training and research. Requests by the Thai Campaign to Ban Landmines to see the plan, as well as other documents, have been denied.

Disturbingly, the Thai military have told the Thai Campaign that they insist on the condition that should neighboring countries act against the treaty, they would reconsider this policy of destroying antipersonnel mines.[18]


In the past, Thai soldiers laid defensive minefields along the Thai-Cambodian border to prevent infiltration by Vietnamese troops. Vietnamese forces established a heavily mined perimeter (K-5), and Cambodian and Khmer Rouge forces are believed to have laid mines on what is now territory claimed by Thailand.[19] The most common mines used in Thailand were Soviet PMN-2, POMZ-1, and POMZ-2 mines, as well as Chinese Type 72 and U.S. M-18A1.[20] The Royal Thai Army states that most, but not all, of its mines were documented, and that when it found mines laid by others, the area would be marked with warning signs.[21] Military sources have said that some refugees entering Thailand laid mines for self-defense and protection from external armies.[22]

Mines were also used on the Thai borders with Burma/Myanmar, Laos, and Malaysia. While the Thai military no longer uses antipersonnel mines, along the northwestern Thai-Myanmar border it appears new mines are being laid by non-state actors, including refugees from the Karen and Karenni states of Burma/Myanmar now seeking shelter in Thailand.[23]

Landmine Problem

A survey conducted by the RTA and the RTN in 1998 shows that in all border areas 796 square kilometers are mined.[24] Of these mined areas, 532 square kilometers are on the Thai-Cambodian border, 124 square kilometers are on the Thai-Lao border, 53 square kilometers on the Thai-Myanmar border, and 87 square kilometers on the Thai-Malaysian border. The seventeen provinces in the northern, northeastern, southern and western parts of Thailand affected by landmines are Sa Kaeo, Buriram, Surin, Sisaket, Ubon Ratchathani, Chanthaburi, Trat, Tak, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Nan, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Songkla, Yala and Chumphon.

A 1992 military survey of the Thai-Cambodian border indicated mines in approximately 440 square kilometres the five provinces of Ubon Ratchathani, Sisaket, Surin, Buriram and Sa Kaeo provinces, and on 250 kilometres of roads in two provinces, namely Chanthaburi and Trat.[25]

A 1998 report by the U.S. State Department estimates the number of mines in Thailand at 100,000.[26]

Mine Action

An inter-agency national committee on mine problems was initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in mid-1998. Committee members come from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Interior.

A new Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) was established on 18 January 1999, located in Thung Si Gun (Don Muang) area, north of Bangkok.[27] It is under the Prime Minister’s Office with the Thai Military in charge of overall operations. It is headed by director-general Lt. Gen. Dr. Vasu Chanarat. TMAC will serve as a focal point of contact to deal with all matters concerning antipersonnel landmines, including demining training, area demining, mine awareness and victim assistance and coordination of domestic and international assistance on landmine management.


Both United Nations organizations and individual governments have been approached to provide financial assistance for mine action programs in Thailand. The Foreign Ministry has prepared a funding request for financial assistance which was forwarded to Humanitarian Demining Team Leaders on 18 August 1998. The project is titled: “Thai-XYZ (unidentified nations and one UN funding agency) Cooperation Project in Humanitarian Demining”.[28]

Mine Clearance

The Royal Thai Army has been able to remove about 2,500-3,000 mines per year along the border, but intends to accelerate that pace greatly in order to remove all mines within ten years, as required by the treaty.[29]

The new TMAC is primarily responsible for the demining and destruction of APMs in Thai territory. A team of experts on demining training from the United States will help train demining personnel in Thailand in April 1999.

Thailand has estimated that the cost of demining and stockpile destruction will be over 1 billion baht, or U.S.$4 27.4 million, for the Thai military authorities and police combined. It will require four battalions and three companies of army and marine engineers.[30]

Thailand has also assisted others with mine clearance, notably Cambodia. According to Thai U.N. Ambassador Asda Jayanama, “We are pleased to have provided active assistance in demining efforts in Cambodia, bilaterally as well as multilaterally?. During 1992-1993, we dispatched two Thai engineering battalions into Cambodia to clear landmines on route No. 5 from Poi Pet to Battambang, providing the safe return home for hundreds of thousands of Cambodians.”[31]

Mine Awareness Education

The government has done little in terms of mine awareness education. The new TMAC will be in charge of the public information on danger of antipersonnel mines, as part of its responsibilities.

The Thailand Campaign to Ban Landmines, a group of NGOs, has organized and coorganized numerous programs on Mine Awareness Education during 1997-1998.

Landmine Casualties

The numbers of people killed or injured by antipersonnel landmines are not available from any sources. There have been no records kept in the village administration, health-care units, hospitals, or public health and social welfare offices. Only one hospital on Thai-Myanmar border can provide their annual statistics on landmine survivors, Thai and non-Thai, patients for the past three years. Handicap International, now working on the Thai-Myanmar border, keeps statistics of Karen and Karenni survivors benefiting from their prosthetic and rehabilitation services.

Colonel Veerasak Raksasab, an RTA personnel who has been assigned to the TMAC operation unit, indicated that part of TMAC’s task is to set up a database on landmine casualties; he admitted that it is going to take a long time.

The Thai Campaign has interviewed fifty-four survivors in fifteen sample villages in six of the seventeen provinces known to be mined areas. Two landmine survivors, who work in district hospitals as technicians in the Prosthetic Unit, were a great help in the interview process of two provinces along the Thai-Cambodian border. Both military personnel and civilians have been injured; including both males and females, with a majority being males. The ages of survivors and deaths range from children who can walk (1.5 years) to over-90-year-old villagers.

Survivor Assistance

On 3 December 1998, representatives from Thai Campaign called on the Deputy Foreign Minister, on the occasion of the first anniversary of Thailand’s signing of the Ottawa Convention and presented a letter signed by 1,823 supporters demanding the government begin to implement immediate assistance to mine victims.

Medical and rehabilitation services in Thailand are available in both state and privately owned hospitals and health care units, functioning at the provincial, district, and community levels. While facilities offering first aid are offered at all district and village levels, patients who have sever injuries and are in need of surgical care are referred to a higher level and to a better equipped institution. Psychological and social support are normally not provided. The mine victims are mainly supported by their own families and communities. Regarding rehabilitation facilities, mainly provincial hospitals with adequate equipment, personnel, and space, would provide this service since there are a number of patients with paralytic and/or diabetic problems as well.

Several border provincial hospitals have prosthetic and assistance devices available. There are also some government provisions for vocational or skills training for landmine survivors but most of the interviewees, especially those with family members dependent on them, refuse to take up the training. Projects for financial support are under the responsibility of the social welfare department, but most of the survivors have not been able to make use of them due to the budget constraints of the county.

Centers supporting medical rehabilitation include:

  • Mae Sot District Hospital, Tak province, 300 beds: 123 mine victims treated 21 September 1997-20 September 1998.
  • Aranyaprathet District Hospital, Sakaeo province, 120 beds: 108 mine victims treated 21 September 1997-20 September 1998.
  • Prasat District Hospital, Surin Province, 60 beds.
  • Surin Provincial Hospital, Surin Province, 652 beds.
  • Mae Hong Son/ Sri Sangwan Hospital, Mae Hong Son province, 120 beds.

A national disability law, titled “Laws on Rehabilitation of Thai Disabled Persons, 1991" has been proclaimed in Thailand, and has been implemented since 1994. Landmine survivors are included in the description of handicapped persons as given in this law. Due to the economic downturn and the tight budget many conditions of this law have not yet been realized. Implementation has been inconsistent among provinces, districts and tambons.


[4]Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Thai Government, “Thailand Mine Action Center”, ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-sessional Group on Confidence Building Measures Honolulu, HI, USA, 4-6 November 1998, p.1

[5]Landmine Monitor interview with Lt. Gen. Dr. Vasu Chanarat, Director General of the Thailand Mine Action Center on 16 February 1999.


[7]Letter from U.S. Army Foreign Science and Technology Center to Human Rights Watch, 1 November 1993, p.1; U.S. Department of State, Outgoing Telegram, Unclassified, Subject: landmine export moratorium demarche, 7 December 1993.

[8]U.S. Department of Defense, “Mine Facts” CD-ROM, first released July 1995.

[9]Personal communication in Thai language dated 26 November 1998 from Col. Veerasak Raksasab, Royal Thai Army, Operation & Intelligence Division, Engineering Department, Fort Bhanurangsri, Ratchaburi.

[10]The Nation, “Ridding the world of fear and destruction”, 6 November 1997.

[11]Statement by Ambassador Asda Jayanama before the Plenary of the 53rd Session of the U.N. General Assembly, 17 November 1998.

[12]U.S. Department of State, Outgoing Telegram, Unclassified, Subject: landmine export moratorium demarche, 7 December 1993.

[13]U.S. Army, Armament, Munitions, and Chemical Command (USAMCCOM), Letter to Human Rights Watch, 25 August 1993, and attached statistical tables, provided under the Freedom of Information Act. (no page number). This document gives the exact number and type of mines shipped each year from 1969-1992. Another official document from the Defense Security Assistance Agency puts U.S. APM shipments to Thailand even higher: 499,278.

[14]Personal communication from Col. Veerasak Raksasab.

[15]Landmine Monitor interview with Lt. Gen. Vasu Chanarat, Director General of TMAC on 16 February 1999.

[16]Rough estimate obtained from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s Mine Action Database.

[17] Personal communication from Department of International Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs official in December 1998.

[18]LM discussion with TMAC officials in January 1999 which reiterates the Royal Thai Army stand reported in The Nation, “Army shifts stand to support landmine ban”, 28 August 1997.

[19]U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Problem with Uncleared Landmines, July 1993, p. 164.


[21]Personal communication from Col. Veerasak Raksasab.

[22]Interview with Thai military official in Mae Sot, Tak province, January 1999.

[23]Interview with displaced ethnic migrants housed in camps along the Thai-Burma border, Mae Sot, Tak province, January 1999

[24]Ministry of Foreign Affairs Document given to Humanitarian Demining Team Leaders on 18 August, 1998, #1.3 p.1 and also Thailand Mine Action Center, A Brief Account of TMAC, January 1999, p. 2.

[25]Ibid, #1.2 .

[26]U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, September 1998, p. A-2

[27]Thailand Mine Action Center, Directorate of Joint Communication, Supreme Command Headquarters, 183 Songprapa Street, Tung Si Gun, Don Muang, Bangkok 10120 Thailand, Tel (66-2) 565-5199, 565-5200.

[28]Ministry of Foreign Affairs Document given to Humanitarian Demining Team Leaders on 18 August, 1998.

[29]Statement by Ambassador Asda Jayanama before the Plenary of the 53rd Session of the U.N. General Assembly, 17 November 1998.