Two days ago I went to the Corrections Museum in downtown Bangkok. Now I know why this is not on the usual itinerary for western travelers to Thailand. The museum, accessible only by appointment, is a bleak but well-preserved prison structure of two cell blocks and a portion of the prison wall with two watchtowers, built in the 1890’s and closed in 1990.
Each cell displays and describes a particular punishment that was prescribed by Thai law, including the chin hook, pillory, head squeezer, the coffin, and worse. The intended purposes of the barbaric practices are also highlighted. Some were used to obtain confessions, while others accompanied a term of incarceration. The instruments of torture were shockingly brutal and as I walked through the cell block I averted my eyes from the cells, focusing on the brief English descriptions attached on the side of each cell.
A portion of the museum is dedicated to Thailand’s capital punishment practices. Beheading by sword was the preferred method up to 1934. From 1934 to 1977, execution by a single sub machine gun was utilized. Today lethal injection is used.
The visit was sobering, indeed, leaving me with a dark sense of the depths of man’s inhumanity. That same foreboding feeling overcame me again, when a day later I read of the Montreal man, Luka Rocco Magnotta, who allegedly dismembered his lover, Jun Lin, sending his body parts to Canada’s bastions of government and law and order.
By all accounts Magnotta has led a troubled life, desperate to be a celebrity in a world that worships fame. He will soon be captured and his lawyer will likely claim he is insane. History shows us that macabre brutality is not necessarily a sign of insanity. It is however, a glimpse of mankind’s demons.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang