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THE REAL BANGKOK HILTON
Final Script Ė World-wide version
22nd July 2004
50í30Ē including credits (35í) and opening graphic (6í)

10.00.00

This World Theme Music



10.00.02
Title Page
Thisworld

10.00.10
ASTON


bangkwang maximum security prison

bangkok, thailand

10.00.23
Andrew Hawke
Letís put it this way, a lot of people in here will never see 
free air again.

10.00.29
Ian Curtis
The Thai people call Bangkwang the ďBig TigerĒ. They 
say it eats men alive.

10.00.37
Amporn Birtling
[dubbed]
I have no clue when I will die. They could inject me today or 
tomorrow.

10.00.45
Ian Curtis
In the west it has been known as the ďBangkok HiltonĒ.

10.00.50
Michael Connell

There is twenty-four in a room which is really hard. 
Especially when you need to go to the toilet because there 
are people all over the floor.

10.01.03
Ian Curtis
The prison is notorious Ė itís been the subject of novels 
and movies - but the Thai authorities have never 
allowed the reality of life inside these walls to be filmed. 

10.01.16
Ian Curtis
Until now.

10.01.25
TITLE PAGE 


the real bangkok hilton
10.01.35
Ian Curtis
Bangkwang prison is at boiling point. In the last few 
years the prisonís population has trebled Ė because of 
a government crackdown on drug trafficking. 

10.01.48
Ian Curtis
7,000 men are now packed into a prison built to hold 
around half that number.

10.01.54
Bunharn [subs]

Ok weíre ready Ė get them up.

10.02.01
Guard [subs]

Row three Ė stand up!

10.02.09
Ian Curtis
There are serial killers and multiple rapists locked up 
here. But most prisoners are in for drug dealing 
offenses. In Thailand drug sentences are harsh -- 
minimum 25 years - to life - to the death penalty. 

10.02.27
Ian Curtis
The prison guards have arranged extra heavy security 
but theyíre nervous. They are unarmed and 
outnumbered fifty-to-one.

10.02.38
Bunharn
[SUBS]

Guards, guards!
Donít let them get close to the prisoners!

10.02.40
Bunharn
[SUBS]

Donít let them get in the room!

10.02.46
Bunharn
[SUBS]

The prisoners might lock them inside!

10.02.50
Bunharn
[SUBS]

Wouldnít that be big newsÖ

10.02.55
Bunharn
[SUBS]

A BBC crew taken hostage!

10.03.02
Ian Curtis
With so few guards roll call is taken twice a day to 
make sure nooneís missing. 

10.03.30
GUARD:  [SUBS]

We use our batons to check how the bars sound.

10.03.40
Ian Curtis
If one bar has a different tone it means someoneís tried 
to file through it.

10.03.56
Ian Curtis
3:30 is lock down.  The prisoners spend 15 hours a day 
in their cells.

10.04.09
Andrew Hawke
You literally cannot lie flat on your back put your hands on 
your stomach if you do that your elbows are on two other 
beds. That is pretty damn close and that is 15 hours a day.

10.04.13
ASTON

ANDREW
prisoner no. 290/42

10.04.25
Ian Curtis
In here - if one prisoner gets sick, so do all his 
cellmates. 

10.04.34
Michael Connell
Iíd say the beds are about that big about 5 foot long and me 
feet are always sticking over the bed. You are always 
touching someone in the room. Itís really hard.

10.04.36
ASTON

MICHAEL
Prisoner no. 317/47

10.04.49
Ian Curtis
The lights stay on 24 hours a day.  Thai officials have 
said 63 percent have mental health problems and one 
in ten is suicidal. 

10.05.00
Michael Connell
There is a lot of people who are losing their minds. I am 
sleeping next to a guy now; he just walks around all day 
talking to himself.Iím in the room next to him at night, and I 
have seen a dog scratch less. Last night he was itching so 
much there must have been three different places bleeding 
from. And a week before he was bleeding again and he 
actually got blood on my bed.

10.05.30
Ian Curtis
Many will die here and many more will be put to death. 

10.05.40
Ian Curtis
Just after the new Thai government came to power, 
these men had their executions in Bangkwang 
broadcast live on Thai television as a warning to drug 
pushers.


10.05.56
Ian Curtis
In the street outside the prison thereís another warning. 
This sign shows 560 inmates face execution for drug 
offences.  

10.06.07
Ian Curtis
Amporn Birtling is one of them. His shackles are 
welded on permanently. He faces death by lethal 
injection. The execution order could come at any time.

10.06.24
Ian Curtis
The Thai government says drug pushers have 
destroyed the future of many of the countryís young 
people and deserve to die. 

10.06.41
Amporn Birtling
[dubbed]
All of my life I hated drugs more than anything. I never 
thought that I would be arrested because of them. I told my 
kids donít touch them. Donít get close to them. I hate them. 
I admitted that I was guilty. Why has society punished me 
so harshly? Why donít they give me another chance? I 
never committed a crime before.

10.07.09
Ian Curtis
The tough sentences are popular. 

10.07.15
Ian Curtis
The prisonís resident Buddhist monk Ė like the majority 
of Thai people Ė has little sympathy for drug traffickers. 

10.07.24
Monk
(dubbed)
Drug dealing is a type of mass murder - it can destroy 
whole families. If a child becomes addicted to drugs, he 
drags down his whole family with him. The child starts to 
steal everything, which ruins the familyís reputation in 
society. A murderer typically kills only one person. Drug 
dealers donít kill just one person - they ruin everyoneís 
lives. 

10.07.56
Amporn Birtling
[dubbed]
My children try to cheer me up. They say to me itís OK - 
donít be sad father. If people canít see the goodness of 
your heart, heaven can.


10.08.14
Ian Curtis
Thailand is fighting a drug problem far worse than 
anything yet seen in the west. The country is a major 
through-route for drugs.  

10.08.25
Ian Curtis
Heroin and speed pills are manufactured in Burma. The 
drugs are then trafficked through Thailand to Europe 
and America, with much of the profit going to the Thai 
agents.

10.08.38
Ian Curtis
But now Thailand has a major drug problem at home.

10.08.45
Ian Curtis
Metaamphetamine pills Ė called yabba Ė now as cheap 
as a dollar a pill -- are flooding the local market. In 
recent years Yabaa has found its way into schools, 
child addicts in the streets have become a common 
sight.  

10.09.07
Ian Curtis
Itís called the ďcrazy drugĒ.   The governmentís said it 
is Thailandís number one national security issue. 

10.09.17
Amporn Birtling
[dubbed]
I had a job watching yabaa supplies. My employers paid all 
my daily expenses Ė and paid for my house as well. All I 
had to do is keep an eye on the pills. When we had a client 
my boss would call me and I would make the delivery. 

10.09.44
Ian Curtis
Two years ago Thai television broadcast details of 
cases of violence by people high on yabaa. This man 
threatened to drop his own son off a building. 

10.10.06
Ian Curtis
The Thai prime minister vowed to wipe out the 
countryís entire drug problem within just sixty days. 

10.10.13
Ian Curtis
Ten thousand people were arrested. More than 2000 
alleged drug dealers were shot dead in the streets. The 
authorities said it was gang on gang killings Ė Human 
rights groups say it was the Thai police.


10.10.28
Amporn Birtling 
(dubbed)
One day the police caught my partner and forced him to call 
me to deliver some pills to an undercover officer. I was 
arrested immediately. The police just decided to arrest any 
suspect they could find - thatís why prisons are 
overcrowded these days. They werenít looking for the real 
criminals, otherwise they wouldnít have even bothered with 
us.

10.11.01
Ian Curtis
Caught in the crackdown were hundreds of foreigners. 
20-year-old Michael Connell from Bury in Manchester 
says he smuggled drugs to fund his second holiday in 
Thailand. 

10.11.15
Director
So what were you arrested for, Michael?

10.11.26
Michael Connell
Iím arrested for importing 3,400 ecstasy from England to 
Thailand and got I caught at the airport.

10.11.26
Michael Connell
When they found them I knew what were going to happen 
to me. Because anywhere in the world if you get caught 
importing drugs youíre going to prison. So as soon as they 
found them I knew I were going to prison.

10.11.40
Ian Curtis
Connellís story is of the typical ďtourist turns convictĒ 
variety. He was one of the hundreds of thousands of 
young Britons who visit Thailand every year - many of 
them young travelers easily tempted by the readily 
available cheap booze, drugs and sex. 

10.12.00
Michael Connell
I just came for a holiday for the first time and enjoyed it so 
much when I was leaving I were heart broken to go. The 
culture, the people are all dead friendly. And mainly the 
weather Ė in England sunshine donít happen very often.

10.12.19
Ian Curtis
Overwhelmed by what seemed an idyllic lifestyle, 
Connell, like many of these travelers, got a false sense 
of security. He visited Khao San Road - the 
backpackerís ghetto in the centre of Bangkok where 
many plan their beach trips in Thailand.  He went on to 
the beach resorts and the famous full moon parties 
where ecstasy is plentiful.

10.12.51
Michael Connell
So I wanted to get back but it was expensive to come over, 
I had to find the way to make money.

10.12.58
Ian Curtis
Connell didnít want to say where he got the money to 
buy the drugs. In November 2003, he arrived at 
Bangkok's international airport for his second vacation 
in the land of smiles. Customs officials found the 
ecstasy tablets in his travel bag after they were 
detected by an X-ray scan. 

10.13.22
Michael Connell
I went to collect me bag and for some reason it was already 
off the rail going around so I just picked it up, walked 
through customs, then they said stop can I search your bag. 
So they just put my bag through the X-ray machine, opened 
the bag, put their hand in, just pulled them out. 

10.13.51
Michael Connell
When I got arrested there was a big sign in the customs 
office, from which that scared me a lot. 

10.14.02
Michael Connell
I just sat there looking at it and just praying that I donít get 
the death penalty.

10.14.09
Ian Curtis
The pills, with a street value of 50,000 pounds, were 
wrapped in plastic and hidden in two facecream jars. 
Michael escaped the death penalty by pleading guilty, 
but was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

10.14.25
Michael Connell
ďFamily, I love you all. Donít worry about me. Iím fine. Iím 
more worried about yourselvesĒ.

10.14.41
Michael Connell
Anything can happen to you in the time you been here. The 
biggest fear is not knowing when I am getting out, that is 
the biggest fear that Iíve got. 

10.14.58
Ian Curtis
Connell has been put in building five, which is reserved 
for young and dangerous prisoners.  

10.15.07
Ian Curtis
Bunharn Cholsin - a prison director Ė leads the visit 
into Connellís cellblock.

10.15.14
ASTON

BUNHARN CHOLSIN 
Director of Prisoner Welfare.

10.15.17
Ian Curtis
Twenty guards gather for extra security.  But there is 
tension in the air.

10.15.23
Bunharn [subs]

Donít be afraid. Warden Chaweng is a very good kickboxer.


10.15.33
Bunharn
[English]
 
Uh, open the door building five.

10.15.38
Guard [subs]

I am Narit Witsaket, Prison Officer 3. The situation is 
normal.

10.15.54
Bunharn [subs]

These two doors canít be opened at the same time. First we 
all have to get inside here. 

10.16.11
Bunharn
[dubbed]
Compound five contains about thousand prisoners but there 
are only thirteen or fourteen guards on duty. So if the 
prisoners wanted to try something, thereíd be nothing we 
could do about it. If the prisoners wanted to knock the 
guards out, we couldnít do anything.

10.16.33
Ian Curtis
Warden Bunharn is concerned about the safety of the 
female Thai interpreter.

10.16.37
Bunharn [subs]



Donít worry. Just stay calm. Donít panic whatever you do. 
The prisoners have never seen a woman come in here 
before.

10.16.57
Ian Curtis
Normally hundreds of prisoners mill about this open 
space. But now they are herded against the walls. 
Before this visit the guards had raided the block, 
seizing any personal possessions regarded as against 
the rules - like mobile phones and drugs. Theyíre not 
happy.

10.17.18
Ian Curtis
The prison bosses have a system of prisoner guards Ė 
called Ďtrustiesí.  The prisoners call them blueshirts and 
blueboys. They have the power to search - and to 
discipline - the other prisoners.

10.16.36
Michael Connell [VO]
Itís difficult to be foreigner here, because in the building Iím 
in Iím the only white guy in the building so I stand out a lot. 

10.17.50
Michael Connell
I do get looks off a lot of people but Iíve got to ignore them 
all the time and carry on what Iím doing.

10.17.56
Michael Connell
Are you all right? I werenít expecting ya. 

10.18.02
Director
So this is where you hang out day?

10.18.04
Michael Connell
That is where I hang out, yah. One place where itís quiet.

10.18.10
Ian Curtis
As a new inmate Connell must wear leg shackles for 
the first three months.

10.18.15
Michael Connell
Well I really canít play football at the moment since I got the 
chains around me legs. But Iíve got another month with 
them on. They hopefully they should be off in a month, then 
I can play football.

10.18.27
Ian Curtis
Life in Bangkwang largely depends on how much 
money a prisoner has. Poor inmates work for the 
guards or for other prisoners to survive.

10.18.37
Michael Connell
A lot of people here havenít got any money. So you got to 
basically help the ones who havenít got the money so he 
does me washing and then I give him food and stuff like 
that cigarettes.

10.18.49
Ian Curtis
Each inmate has a bank account in the prison. They 
can buy food and toiletries from the prison shop using 
a coupon system. Michael also gets food and vitamins 
from the British embassy.

10.19.00
Michael Connell
You buy your food everyday. So you just buy it. Sometimes 
you can do cooking, plus the embassy comes every six 
weeks they come and they bring me like, stuff like fresh 
bacon, ham, cheese.

10.19.14
Michael Connell
Itís not the embassy that gives us the money every month 
itís the charity called Prisoners Abroad who gives us 2000 
baht every month. Which is actually a really big help 
because my family ainít got that much money to help me 
with.

10.19.24
Ian Curtis
The guards have had enough. Itís time to leave 
Connellís cellblock.

10.19.42
Ian Curtis
Bunharnís tour continues with a visit to the maximum-
security building. He travels there in the prison 
transport vehicle - a golf cart.

10.19.55
Bunharn [subs]

We use this golf cart sometimes to transport death row 
inmates to the execution chamber.

10.20.15
Ian Curtis
The inmates call it ďthe JungleĒ. 

10.20.22
Ian Curtis
Itís solitary confinement, Bangkwang style.
 
10.20.34
Michael Connell
I have heard about solitary that you are in there every four 
days and you get out one day. Thereís not a toilet in thereís 
just a little bucket in the room. Just a little bucket no water 
to shower with. One guy said that you are lucky if you can 
lie down on your back flat. I plan not to go up there.

10.21.01
Solitary Guard
This is an example of a stubborn prisoner who lacks 
discipline. Thatís why heís isolated from others. This is a 
fair punishment - he stabbed another inmate at least 10 
times and when the guard tried to stop the fight, he was 
attacked as well and got 10 stitches. We forgive him Ė we 
will try our best to rehabilitate him. Other people always 
imagine that we are tough, but in reality we are not.

10.21.44
Solitary Inmate

My case is attempted murder. Iím sentenced to death, but 
Iím innocent.

10.21.57
Ian Curtis
A large percentage of the inmates in solitary are from 
Nigeria Ė a country that has some the worldís most 
organised drug courier gangs.

10.22.07
Darren Conway
Why are you in solitary?

10.22.10
Nigerian Inmate 1
They tell me I foughtÖ I had a problem with another 
prisoner.

10.22.15
Darren Conway
How long have you been in solitary for? 

10.22.19
Nigerian Inmate 1
Three months.

10.22.20
Darren Conway
Do you get out during the day?

10.22.26
Nigerian Inmate 1
Yeah - twice in a week. Just for one hour.

10.22.32
Ian Curtis
Nigerian drug couriers take delivery of heroin in 
Bangkok and send it home to their capital of Lagos. 
With Nigeriaís rampant corruption, getting the drugs 
through Lagos international airport does not pose 
much of a problem. In Nigeria, the drugs are repacked 
into smaller parcels, often into condoms that couriers 
swallow and take to Europe and America.

10.22.57
Darren Conway
What are you convicted for?

10.23.00
Nigerian Inmate 1
Drugs.

10.23.06
Bunharn
[dubbed]
Nigerian prisoners are problematic. They try to sell drugs, 
though they donít take them. Iíve talked to them and 
understand that their country is poor. They need money to 
support their families. 

10.23.09
ASTON
BUNHARN CHOLSIN
Director of Prisoner Welfare

10.23.20
Darren Conway
What are you in here for mate?


Nigerian Inmate 2
[subs]
I had a problem with my building chief. He said I used 
heroin.

10.23.30
Ian Curtis
Many Africans donít have embassy support unlike 
American and European prisoners. They have little or 
no legal help.


10.23.39
Darren Conway
How many years do you have to serve?

10.23.44
Nigerian Inmate 2
Iím now on a life sentence.

10.23.47
Darren Conway
Whatís it like in here?

10.23.48
Nigerian Inmate 2
Well, We provide for ourselves We donít have enough food. 
So we have to survive on our own.

10.23.59
Ian Curtis
In the past Nigerians outside have smuggled drugs and 
mobile phones into the prison, often hidden within 
food. In this way the Nigerian inmates could deal drugs 
and earn money.

10.24.12
Bunharn
[dubbed]
They try to hide drugs in all kind of places. We usually catch 
them. Sometimes they hide it in cosmetics. They have their 
tricks. In the food. Sometimes they swallow it and then 
excrete it into the toilet. We donít have electronic devices to 
detect that. When we catch them, they are punished, they 
are tried.

10.24.41
Director
Do you miss your family?

10.24.43
Nigerian Inmate 2
I miss my children. I have five children.

10.24.50
Darren Conway
Would you like to go home?

10.24.52
Nigerian Inmate 1
Exactly! Exactly.

10.25.02
Director
Does anyone come and visit you Gary?


Nigerian Inmate 2
Only missionaries. Once in a while. Once in a while.

10.25.36
Ian Curtis
Another western prisoner who agreed to be interviewed 
was 47 year-old Andrew Hawke from London.  

10.25.44
Andrew Hawke
Death row. They got their chains welded on. 


10.25.53
Andrew Hawke
Thatís my home for the last five and a half years. 

10.26.01
Frank Smith
And home for how much longer?

10.26.03
Andrew Hawke
Nobody in place can say with any degree of certainty when 
they are leaving. Nobody at all. 

10.26.12
Ian Curtis
Permission for filming is denied inside Hawkeís 
compound Ė the last visit inside Connellís proved too 
dangerous and disruptive.

10.26.24
Ian Curtis
But they do allow a camera to be given to a guard who 
agrees to film Andrewís daily routine Ė but under the 
supervision of a senior prison official. 

10.26.38
Andrew Hawke
Well, Iím going up to show you where I sleep.

10.26.45
Director
What were you arrested for?

10.26.46
Andrew Hawke
Stupidity. It was 800 odd grams apparently. Airport.

10.26.57
Director
What led you to the decision to try to do this?

10.27.00
Andrew Hawke
Desperation. Financial and personal. I was homeless at the 
time Ė just been made that. The personal stuff I donít really 
want to go into. 

10.27.22
Andrew Hawke
Most of the time, I end up asleep. 15 hours a day in this 
room. Every day. Thatís a lot of hours.

10.27.37
Ian Curtis
Hawke made his decision to smuggle heroin after an 
offer in a pub in Amsterdam.

10.27.44
Andrew Hawke
I really didnít want to do it, everything screamed against me 
not to do it. But I went ahead and did it anyway.

10.27.53
Andrew Hawke
I was justÖ pouring out my sorrows and woes, and 
basically talking with strangers like you donít talk to 
anybody else. Letís just say I was suicidally depressed. 

10.28.15
Andrew Hawke
To be honest I was thinking about taking the late night ferry 
and jumping off it. I was at the end of the rope, franklyÖ. 
slowly getting drunk and somebody whispered over my 
shoulder ĎI know a way you can make some money to get 
you out of your financial problems.í What? He said Ďyou can 
you can fly over and do a job for me over in Thailand.í Give 
you some money be a tourist for a couple of weeks and fly 
back. I said okay. That must have been about 3 or 4 in the 
morning. By half past two the next afternoon hungover and 
pretty drunk, got taken to the airport and put on a plane. I 
was here. And once I was here I was pretty much 
committed because I didnít have a return ticket or enough 
money to buy one for that matter. 

10.29.20
Andrew Hawke
I was arrested right before I entered the aircraft. It was a 
metal detector thingy youíve gotta to walk through. God 
knows what triggered it off. I just remember my heart going 
like a trip hammer and was waitingÖ I waited for at least a 
half an hour before the customs guy showed up. And they 
checked the stuff and one of the customs guy said that 
maybe itís milk powder and I just looked at him and said 
yeah I bloody well hope so. But it wasnít. 

10.29.54
Andrew Hawke
Arrived here April fools day. Very funny. 

10.30.00
Ian Curtis
Hawke was sentenced to death, cut to 50 years when he 
pleaded guilty.

10.30.06
Andrew Hawke
I deserve to be punished I certainly do. But the punishment 
is so severe.

10.30.18
Andrew Hawke
This is my friend Adrian. The reason heís lying down is that 
heís too tall to stand up. So Adrian, what does it feel like to 
be on TV again? Say hello to your friends at home Adrian.

10.30.36
Adrian
Hello. Welcome to Bangkwang people.

10.30.41
Andrew Hawke
Are you pleading guilty or not guilty?

10.30.42
Adrian
Not guilty.

10.30.44
Andrew Hawke
You see yet another man in the system who is not guilty. 

10.30.47
Adrian
You!

10.30.48
Andrew Hawke
I pled guilty from the start my friend. I was caught red-
handed.

10.30.56
Ian Curtis
Hawke is ordered to show off the new gas cooking area 
for the guardís camera


10.31.01
Andrew Hawke
This is the area where all the cooking facilities are. Gas 
bottles all behind. As you can see thereís only six rings. So 
a lot of people use charcoal instead. But the the gas here is 
provided. Just off shot are about 400 people showering 
which you cannot be shown under the laws of obscenity in 
Thailand so we will now move on. OK, enough.

10.31.39
Andrew Hawke
This is my friend heís the librarian. He looks after all the 
books.

10.31.42
Librarian

Librarian!

10.31.43
Andrew Hawke
Most of these books were put here either by me or Adrian. 

10.31.48
Andrew Hawke
About Ned Kelly and his life and times short as they were. 

10.32.01

African Inmate
[subs]

Yeah, Iím just reading ďHow to live in ThailandĒ. 

10.32.04
Andrew Hawke
You found out how to live in Thailand my friend.  Too late 
you found out. OK thatís enough

10.32.15
Andrew Hawke
I think that it is my anger at the British government thatís 
halfway responsible for me holding on to my sanity. The 
number of letters that I have written to various government 
departments of the foreign office home office and the sheer 
gall of the replies keeps me going. 

10.32.37
Ian Curtis
Heroin smuggler Hawke is desperate to leave. He is 
subject to the rules of British prisoner transfer 
agreements. If he returns to the UK, he must serve half 
the sentence he received abroad. Other countries are 
far more lenient.

10.32.51
Andrew Hawke
Even if I went back and did the half that the British 
government insists that I do, Iíd be nearly 67. I was a Dane 
or a German Iíd have 4 and a half years left.

10.33.06
Michael Connell
These American prisoners they get transferred back home 
after 8 years. Then they do 2-3 months in prison in America 
and then get released. So a lot of people are really upset 
about this.

10.33.22
Andrew Hawke
Well the Americans go their own way, no one can stop the 
Americans but we should at least get the same treatment 
as the rest of the Europeans do and none of them do more 
than 10 years so why the hell should we?

10.33.37
Ian Curtis
In the last few years Bangkwang prison has become 
part of the tourist trail in Thailand. Notices in guest 
houses encourage tourists to visit inmates. The 
prisoners call them Ďbanana visitsí - because it makes 
them feel like monkeys in a cage. 

10.34.01
Ian Curtis
Prisoners on drugs offenses are allowed one visit a 
week, while all other inmates, including murderers, get 
two.

10.34.13
Ian Curtis
The prisoners sit behind a wire mesh, and the visitors 
at the other side of a second wire mesh, about ten feet 
apart. For each pair it is like trying to conduct a 
conversation across a busy road.

10.34.26
Dutch Tourist
Two years ago we were just curious to visit somebody in a 
prison and we met a boy from Malaysia and we felt so sorry 
for him but we know heís innocent Ė heís really innocent but 
he has life time. I think itís too bad.

10.34.47
Malaysian prisoner
[subs]
My wife she stays in Penang. 
So when you arrive at penang airportÖ

10.34.52
Dutch Tourist

With her parents, she stays with her parents.
10.34.54
Malaysian prisoner
Yeah, she stays with her parents.

10.34.56
Dutch Tourist
When theyíre guilty, ok, but not life, not life - thatís too long. 
Donít you think?

10.35.04
Michael Connell
Yeah I get visits from tourists sometimes who go to the 
British embassy and want to visit a British prisoner. 
Sometimes people come over from England who see me on 
the news and all that. From Manchester.

10.35.21
Ian Curtis
Adrian gets a visit from a fellow Canadian who read 
about him on the internet.

10.35.27
Adrian
Welcome to the Bangkok Hilton!

10.35.28
Canadian tourist
Thank you.

10.35.30
Adrian
Weíre lucky weíre Canadian. Canada has an exchange 
treaty. Because we have life sentences we have to do 8 
years in a Thai prison then we can transfer back to Canada.

10.35.42
Canadian tourist
I just wanted to see if thereís anything you need Iím going 
to the store afterÖ

10.35.45
Adrian
Well, besides my freedom - not that much!

10.35.50
Andrew Hawke
A friend that I knew before just appeared out of the blue 
one day. That one, I was taken aback. Sarah, you know 
who are.

10.36.09
Ghanain prisoner 
[subs]
A lot of people go crazy you know. A lot of people inside 
they are mad!

10.36.16
Pierre
They make my day in fact. You know I come here Ė itís food 
for thought. AndÖ they make my day. 

10.36.23
Pierre
Heís a nice guy, he just make a mistake and thatís all you 
know.

10.38.26
Pierre
That makes me thinking about how we are living in paradise 
of the west you know, compared to here. He told me he got 
50 years. Could you imagine? He is 40 Ė a little bit over 40. 
Heís going to be here for the rest of his life.

10.36.46
Afghan prisoner
Iíve stayed here ten years. 
I never fight my case.

10.36.55
Ian Curtis
One of the prisoners is from Afghanistan.

10.36.58
Director
No Afghan embassy. Of course.

10.36.59
Afghan prisoner
Yeah, because as you know everything is problem in 
Afghanistan. And I contact other embassies from other 
places, not reply back.

10.37.09
Director
I see. So thereís nobody helping you on the outside? 

10.37.11
Afghan prisoner
Nobody help me. Nobody help me. Sometimes, Iím sorry, 
when you go to the toilet at night, come back you donít 
have a space to sleep. And food, is not enough at all. And 
everything you should buy yourself!

10.37.28
Michael Connell
Some guy came Iíd say about three weeks ago, he were 
telling me that heís been around Thailand, Vietnam, 
Cambodia, Lao, Burma. And when he were telling me I was 
just thinking greatÖ Iím in prison.

10.38.13
Michael Connell
Iím sleeping next to a guy who has not washed his bed now 
for two months and Iíve told him to wash his bed and he 
donít wash it and Iím sure Iím getting mites off his bed or 
something like that. Iíve asked him to wash his bed but 
heísÖ heís not all there. So heís just walked off and heís 
still not washed his bed yet.

10.38.41
Andrew Hawke
Avoid any open wounds of any kind. With the water here 
you have to Ė thatís unfiltered river water that we have to 
wash in. Try and not get sick. The worst thing that you can 
do is get ill. 

10.38.59
Ian Curtis
Seriously ill inmates end up in the prison hospital, 
which is understaffed and understocked. 

10.39.07
Ian Curtis
Tuberculosis and HIV are rife. But the patients remain 
prisoners.

10.39.25
Ian Curtis
Many prisoners have developed the full-blown AIDS 
virus.

10.39.37
Pete
It happened because they used the same needles when 
they are shooting dope. And sexual Ö you know.

10.39.42
ASTON

ďPETEĒ
Veteran Prisoner

10.39.57
Ian Curtis
Hospitals in Thailand are partly supported by donations 
Ė but not this one.

10.40.03
Doctor [subs]
Most Thai people think these prisoners deserve their 
suffering. So they donít donate to our hospital. But in 
medical care, we have to treat all patients equally 
regardless of religion or class. 

10.40.19
Pete
Last year I was sick in the hospital for 23 days. I saw 
people by the bed by my side dying, dying every day. I am 
here I can see the ambulance come and pick up the casket, 
dead body. I see them all.

10.40.51
Director
What do you have there?

10.40.53
Michael Connell
Itís a Manchester United top; Iím a really big fan of 
Manchester United. Even David Beckham couldnít come 
over and get me out if he wanted to.

10.41.06
Gate guard [subs]
Michael what do you have there?

10.41.13
Michael Connell
Man U. Man U.

10.41.14
Gate guard [subs]
Your team Man U uh?

10.41.22
Ian Curtis
In Bangkwang there is a cross section of Thai society --
- itís a society which is very tolerant of transvestites 
and those whoíve had sex changes. The cameraman-
guard is sent to film some ladyboys as they are known 
here.

10.41.47
Ladyboy
[subs]

These are my girlfriends who live in the same compound.

10.41.52
Ladyboy
[subs]

On weekends we get together here to gossip.
10.41.57
Ian Curtis
These ladyboys live together in compound 4.


10.42.07
Ian Curtis
Nong is 34 and was a showgirl at the resort of Pattaya.  
She says she smuggled drugs to pay for breast 
implants. 

10.42.17
Nong
I wanted to get my breasts done but my parents 
refused to give me money to do it. So I made a 
decision. My friends convinced me to do it, I had no 
idea back then what I was doing, I just kept 
delivering bags for them. I had no clue. I spent the 
money on the breast operation, and three days 
after the operation I was arrested. 

10.42.56
Nong
So far, I canít find someone that I like. The man I like was 
transferred, but in this building there are 1000 men!

10.43.05
Nong
I got a 40 years sentence. I have already been here for 10 
years so I have to stay for another 30 years. But they told 
me I might get pardon this year, so theyíve asked me to 
behave.

10.43.23
Ian Curtis
Occasionally Thailandís King grants a royal pardon  -- it 
is Nongís only hope of getting out, and having a sex 
change operation. 

10.43.33
Ian Curtis
During the day Nong works as a makeup artist at the 
newly launched BKP TV Ė the worldís only prison cable 
TV station.

10.43.52
Ian Curtis
The station is run by prisoners with prior experience. 
The anchor, a former radio announcer, has a life 
sentence for drug smuggling.

10.44.02
Announcer
Iím the host and anchor of BKP Cable TV in Bang Kwang 
Prison. Iím beginning my sixth year behind bars on a drug 
offense. The station started off a collaboration of prisoners 
under the supervision of the guards. We got a great 
response from our audience Ė our fellow inmates.

10.44.36
Ian Curtis
Last year the prison bosses installed televisions in the 
cells. 

10.44.44
Announcer
Dear viewers, BKP TV broadcasts beautiful and romantic 
music videos for you Monday to Friday. 

10.45.02
Ian Curtis
Prisoners can now enjoy Thai music videos, the latest 
movies and theyíve even had episodes of Mr. Bean to 
calm the prisoners down. 

10.45.29
Ian Curtis
Drug dealer Amporn Birtling is still waiting for his 
appointment at the lethal injection chamber. Both he 
and the executioner will get only two hours notice 
before the execution.

10.45.44
Amporn Birtling
[dubbed]
Frankly, Iím afraid to die, but I was also afraid of starving. I 
did it because I had nothing to eat, I didnít have any money. 
I couldnít get a job.

10.46.00
Ian Curtis
Warden Bunharn sees the need for capital punishment, 
but only after all legal means of appeal have been 
exhausted.

10.46.11
Bunharn
[dubbed]
Children can see that we execute criminals, and as a result 
theyíll be afraid of committing crimes. 

10.46.20
Bunharn
[dubbed]
Here in Thailand, we donít take execution lightly.  The 
cases have to go to the Court of Appeal, the Supreme 
Court, and then to the King before an execution is 
approved. Weíre not a cruel country. At Bangkwang we 
have only executed a total 300 prisoners, not thousands.

10.46.38
Ian Curtis
Opponents of the death penalty say that is not a 
deterrent Ė and that innocent men always end up being 
executed. 

10.46.47
Pete
Thereís only one man, a young man. He was accused of 
rape and killing a little girl. A six year old girl. This man I 
know him. I have been in prison with him. I talk to him, did 
you do it? No, he swear. Even though he was going to die 
he swear, he did not do it. On the way to the execution he 
shout - I did not do it, why kill me. Why?

10.47.16
Amporn Birtling
[dubbed]
Yes, we should have a second chance. People arenít all 
bad. Some prisoners here are innocent.

10.47.36
Executioner
[dubbed]
When I hear I have to do an execution, I go back home, I 
wash and meditate to clear my thoughts. Then I leave for 
the prison at four in the afternoon.

10.47.56
Ian Curtis
This is the head executioner of Bangkwang. He has 
agreed to demonstrate his routine on an execution day. 
But he will remain nameless and faceless for security 
reasons.

10.48.14
Executioner
[dubbed]
On my first execution, I worried whether I would be able to 
go through with it. Whether I could carry on until it was done 
properly. But I didnít think too much, and I wasnít scared or 
emotional after I did it.

10.48.38
Amporn Birtling
[dubbed]
I try not to think too much.  We have to think that we are 
paying for our sins. Thatís why we are suffering like this.

10.48.57
Executioner
[dubbed]
The first thing I do is go to the prison shrine and ask for 
blessings.

10.49.07
Ian Curtis
He passes a life-sized concrete giraffe that graces the 
landscaping around the execution chamber.

10.49.16
Executioner
[dubbed]

The giraffe is just to liven up the place.

10.49.33
Executioner
[dubbed]

When I pay my respects I pick up a little bit of earth, put it 
on my head. Because everbody comes from the earth, in 
the end we go back to the earth. We should ask Mother 
Earth to protect us from all danger.

10.49.52
Ian Curtis
On a real execution day the condemned prisoner will 
meet with the head monk of Lap Lae temple, which is 
just on the other side of the wall from the execution 
chamber. He has given the last rites to every prisoner 
executed at Bangkwang during the last 17 years. 

10.50.16
Monk
[dubbed]
Thailand is a Buddhist country so people are always 
questioning why executions are allowed here. Yes killing is 
sinful but Buddhism teaches us to look at the intention 
behind the act. The intention here is to protect the country, 
so it is permitted.
10.50.40
Monk
[dubbed]
Since the Sukhothai dynasty, the King has gone out to fight 
wars. He and his troops have had to kill enemies to protect 
the country - execution is the same.

10.50.59
Ian Curtis
The monk tells the condemned theyíre lucky to die by 
execution because they can prepare their minds 
properly for death.

10.51.11
Monk
[dubbed]
Giving last rites to a prisoner is not easy but I have gotten 
used to it. I tell him that he is lucky that he knows his 
destiny and able to clear his conscience. Unlike me, if a car 
hits me right after this, I might not have a chance die with a 
pure mind. But he can prepare himself, listen to the monks, 
clear his mind and talk to people. Itís a blessing in disguise.

10.51.51
Ian Curtis
Until 2003, the executioners put the condemned to 
death by machine gun.  They shot them in the heart 
from behind -- so the departing spirit could not see the 
face of the killer --- and come back to haunt him.

10.52.10
Ian Curtis
Blood splatters are still visible on the wall. 

10.52.16
Ian Curtis
The last person to die by firing squad was executed on 
Dec 12 last year. Director-General Nattee then decided 
to change the system to lethal injection.

10.52.30
Nathee Chitsawang

Because itís more humane. Because when we used the 
firing squad, the old method, sometimes they are crying and 
shouting and sometime when we shoot and they get down 
their blood is spreading, and sometimes they do not die 
immediately so we have to take them and shoot again. So, 
by new method it will be more humane; and it will not 
damage their body.	

10.52.31
ASTON
 NATHEE CHITSAWANG
 Director-General, Department of Corrections
 
10.53.15
Executioner
[dubbed]

 I come here to prepare the injections.

10.53.20
Executioner
[dubbed]

 The first dose is a tranquilizer.
10.53.23
Executioner
[dubbed]


When we push switch number one, it shows that were 
doing step one to the people outside.
10.53.34
Executioner
[dubbed]
By the time the first injection is done, heíll already be 
unconscious.
 
10.53.40
Executioner
[dubbed]
When the first injection is done, I push number 2 -the 
muscle relaxant. Then we go on to the third and lethal dose.
 
10.53.49
Executioner
[dubbed]
When all lights are on here and outside, the observers 
know that we have injected all three doses.
 
10.54.03
Amporn Birtling
[dubbed]
I have no clue when I will die. They could inject me today or 
tomorrow. I have to try not to dwell on it too much. I tell 
myself that we live one life and we die only once. If you are 
picked for execution tomorrow itís your bad karma.

10.54.23
Executioner
[dubbed]
After the prisoner has died, we put the corpse down here. 
We get the fingerprint of the corpse to check if heís the 
same person as the one we had before we executed. We 
get fingerprints both before and after the execution. After 
we are done with the prints, we put the body in the coffin 
and keep it in this room. Right here. Here we have cool air 
to preserve the body. If we have 4 bodies, weíll stack them 
here.

10.54.53
Executioner
[dubbed]
We bring the body outside and check again if itís the same 
person. We donít want to give the wrong body to the 
relatives by mistake. After that, we put the body back in the 
coffin and walk this way.

10.55.10
Executioner
[dubbed]

Finally, they go out that door.
10.55.16
Ian Curtis
This small red door is how prisoners on death row 
leave the Big Tiger. They call it the Ďghost gateí.

10.55.25
Ian Curtis
The gate only opens the day after an execution. 
Prisoners carry the coffin out into the temple grounds. 
If relatives are waiting, they claim the body. If not the 
body is left in the temple cemetery. When thereís no 
space left, the monk will cremate the bodies. 

10.55.46
Ian Curtis
He now guards the urns of the unclaimed.

10.55.52
Monk
[dubbed]
I still have them and have labeled their names. This was Mr 
Somsak Pornnarai, and Mr Deja Suwannasuk Ė he raped 
his stepdaughter. This was Mr Tapoi Ho, a Karen 
tribesman. 

10.56.16
Monk
[dubbed]

I pray for them from time to time.	

10.56.22
Monk
[dubbed]
I have to take a look at their names. I saw all of them prior 
to their death so I can recall some of them.

10.56.34
Monk
[dubbed]
Iíve always believed that people will face the consequences 
of their actions. Even if you donít get caught, eventually 
your karma will catch up to you.
	
10.56.56
Ian Curtis
Itís July 2004.

10.57.01
Ian Curtis
Amporn Birtling still awaits his fate on death row. 

10.57.09
Amporn Birtling
[dubbed]
I pray for another chance. I pray that I might live a new life 
even it means starting again from zero. 

10.57.20
Ian Curtis
Director-General Natthee is building new prisons to 
ease the overcrowding problem at Bangkwang.

10.57.30
Ian Curtis
Heroin smuggler Andrew Hawke still clings to the slim 
hope of a pardon from the king, or a sympathetic ear 
from Her Majestyís government.

10.57.40
Andrew Hawke
The life sentences never get out. The sentences such as 
mine of 50 years, I would have to be 91 before I got out. 
Impossible.

10.57.57
Ian Curtis
Ecstasy smuggler Michael Connell has served six 
months of his 99-year sentence.

10.58.04
Michael Connell
What I am very worried about - people forgetting me. Iím 
lucky at the moment because I have a few people writing to 
me but I got a feeling that it is going to die down after a bit. I 
am hoping that it doesnít.

CREDITS

BBC2 THIS WORLD Ė THE REAL BANGKOK HILTON 1

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