Rangers (Thahan Phran) (Thailand)

Country: Thailand
Details of Formation: The PGM was established in 1978 by the army and General Chavalit who became prime minister later. The rangers are separate from the Army and distinct from the Border Patrol Police.
Details of Termination: PGM was still active by the end of 2014.
Purpose: Originally, the Rangers were founded as an alternative, cheaper force to fight against communists and the Communists Party of Thailand. They were subsequently used as guards in the refugee camps and border guards along the Burma and Laos border to counter human trafficking and “illegal movements” and then drafted in to the anti-insurgency operation in the South.
Organisation: It is reported that the group worked with the Border Patrol Police and the regular army. The group’s leadership consists of regular officers and for some regiments it is reported that they were under the command of the army.
Weapons and Training: Upon formation, training was intended to last 45 days and the group was to be given modern weapons. Another source states that members were given some months of training and some troops were provided with advanced training. News sources report that weapons included mortars, machine guns, semi-automatic pistols, assault rifles, grenades and grenade launchers.
Size: The group’s size is reported to have decreased from roughly 20,000 members in the early 1990s. Another source states that there were 7,560 troops in 2007.
Reason for Membership: In the initial phase recruits were criminals whose sentences were withdrawn, or people were given land as an incentive to join. Members used the status they held as a consequence of being part of the group for criminal activities. Personal motives are also possible as individuals were recruited from areas that were affected by the insurgency and were deployed in their own villages.
Treatment of Civilians: The group has been accused of human rights abuses, massacres, involvement in drug trade, abuse of authority and killings. Reports say that it was responsible for the forcible return of refugees to Myanmar on multiple occasions and that members raped women in refugee camps. According to a statement, they were able to act without any restraint or accountability. They were accused of attacking a school in one instance, shooting and throwing grenades. News sources conclude that they were not effective at protecting the population. Some members were recruited from mercenaries, convicts on parole, local thugs and juvenile delinquents.
Other Information: The group is distinguished from the Border Patrol Police by the fact that it is intended to fight, while the latter’s primary task is law enforcement. According to one report, the group made efforts to recruit students. It is suspected that the group was involved in terrorist activities in 2010.
References: Amnesty International. 1996a. “Thailand. Forcible return of Burmese refugees to Myanmar.” AI Index: ASA 39/07/96. 15 October.

Amnesty International. 1996b. “Thailand/Myanmar. Forcible return of Burmese refugees to Myanmar.” AI Index: ASA 03/05/96. 6 November.

Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.

Wikipedia. “Thahan Phran.” https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Thahan_Phran&oldid=825484882