Reportage. During the protests in Thailand, journalists found hunting ammunition from RC Eximport, used to crack down on demonstrators. Just like in Myanmar.

From Forlì to Bangkok, Italian hunting ammo is found in the aftermath of police repression

Italian hunting cartridges have been found in Thailand at the scene of popular protests where the Thai police fired rubber bullets—as happened in Myanmar months ago during armed repression there. Once again, spent 12-gauge cartridges made for hunters were discovered.

But this time they didn’t come from Cheddite in Livorno—whose empty shells were found after several riot control interventions by the Burmese army—but they were hunting ammunition from RC Eximport in Forlì, the successor of Romagna Caccia, created in the 1970s by Vittorio Socci and then passed into the hands of his children, Paolo and Alessandra.

Once again, bullets designed for hunting animals have become weapons to use against demonstrators, a violation of the laws that regulate the use of ammunition. Indeed, there is no ammunition designed for riot control in the product catalog of any of the two Italian companies.

The news has been circulating online since the beginning of August, when May Wong, the Bangkok correspondent of the Asian network Channel News Asia (CNA), published photos of cartridges fired and found on the streets of the Thai capital after the operational interventions of the local security forces. The picture posted by Wong shows a 12-gauge RC 32 hunting cartridge made by the Italian company.

The next necessary step is to talk to the company, to try to understand with whom they’re doing business in Thailand and how hunting cartridges are becoming riot control bullets.

“We are not aware of this, but we will check if we have recently made shipments of that type of cartridges to Thailand, because it has been a long time since we’ve shipped to that country,” a manager from RC Eximport in Forlì assured il manifesto. She then added: “We are in the context of free movement of goods, of civilian ammunition for sports use; we comply with the regulations, but there is also the case of improper use.”

At press time, the company had not yet responded regarding any shipments made to Thailand, a nation where there is little hunting being practiced. It’s a possibility, and perhaps a concrete one, that this link is also tied to the discovery of Italian ammunition meant for hunters in the bloody streets of Myanmar at the beginning of the year. In that case, parliamentary questions and an investigation conducted by an Italian civil society team have highlighted the possible route of Cheddite cartridges from Livorno to Myanmar, via Turkey—a trail that the Franco-Italian company has never confirmed or denied.

Furthermore, in the written answer that the government gave to the parliamentary question by Mr. Erasmo Palazzotto (Sinistra Italiana) on this matter, we also find a mention of Thailand, a country that, in addition to being an international hub of tourism and legal trade, is often a base for pimps and traffickers.

In that case, it was in the context of the requests for export to the Thai kingdom of 12-gauge cartridges for sports use, for which Cheddite had received “favorable evaluations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” then from the prefecture of Livorno, as the government clarified. Specifically, the export of “one million cartridges for 12-gauge smoothbore weapons for sporting/hunting use” was approved in 2018, to which another “500,000 cartridges of the same type” were added in 2020, according to the Italian executive’s response, delivered on July 9 by Foreign Undersecretary Manlio Di Stefano.

None of those have been found at the scenes of the recent protests in Thailand so far, however.

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