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Statement: Consideration Given to Formation of Thai Government in Exile

LONDON, 23 May 2014 – Following the declaration of an illegal military coup by the Army of Thailand on Thursday, Robert Amsterdam, counsel to former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the pro-democracy ‘Red Shirt’ movement, stated that active consideration is being given to the formation of a government in exile in the wake of the illegal seizure of power staged in Thailand by General Prayuth Chan-Ocha on May 22, 2014. Mr. Amsterdam reiterates that the actions of Thai military junta lack all legitimacy and constitute flagrant violations of both Thai and international law. The only organization in Thailand with a popular and legal mandate to govern remains the Pheu Thai Party, on the strength of its clear victory in the last full general election of July 3, 2011.

“The military coup carried out by the Army of Thailand does not have any legitimacy nor does the Army of Thailand have a mandate from the people of Thailand to govern the country. Those who have the mandate of the people of Thailand, secured through free and fair elections, are now considering the formation of a government in exile,” said Mr.Amsterdam.

Mr. Amsterdam also raised the question of the unlawful detentions of pro-democracy activists currently being rounded up by the junta stating that “I denounce the illegal detention of all political leaders in Thailand. Given the Thai Army of Thailand’s human rights record, we are extremely concerned for the safety of the political detainees, and we urge the international community to remain on high alert.”

Mr Amsterdam also stated that a number of foreign governments have already expressed their willingness to host such a government in exile under internationally established rules and practice. He emphasised that the Army of Thailand has no legal authority to govern and has acted in violation of both local and international law.

“Make no mistake, this is an illegitimate military coup that must be penalized with the full strength of sanctions and diplomatic measures to ensure the safety and security of the Thai people,” said Amsterdam

Robert Amsterdam serves as international counsel to the United National Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) of Thailand. More information can be read at



Statement: Thai Army Demanded to Show Proof of Safety of Detained Red Shirts


Red Shirt Legal Counsel Robert Amsterdam Calls for International Action in Response to Illegal Military Coup

LONDON, 22 May 2014 – Following the declaration of an illegal military coup by the Royal Army of Thailand on Thursday, legal counsel representing the pro-government Red Shirt movement has demanded evidence that activists who had been arrested were safe and not subject to torture or inhumane prison conditions.

“We demand immediate proof from the current junta that Red Shirt leaders and others who were detained remain safe and unharmed,” said Robert Amsterdam, who serves as legal counsel to the Red Shirts, warning that violations of human rights by the coup leaders would be held accountable.

Following the formal declaration of the military coup, which comes only days after the Thai Army announced martial law, soldiers have moved swiftly to detain both Red Shirt activists as well as government officials. Currently there are reports that so far the Army has detained Red Shirt activists Jatuporn Prompan, Nattawut Saikua, Thida Thavornseth, Weerakarn Satitniramai, Weerakarn Musikapong, Korkaew Pikulthong, and Weng Tojirakarn (unconfirmed).

The Army is also reported to have arrested the Minister of Justice Chaikasem Nitisir, Warathep Ratanakorn (Prime Minister’s Office), Deputy Minister of Education Sermsak Pongpanich, Minister of Transportation Chatchart Sithipan, and Deputy Minister of Finance Tanusak Lekuthai. Members of the Pheu Thai party have also been illegally detained by the coup leaders, including Pol. Lt. Gen. Wiroj Pao-in, Poomtham Wejchayachai, Choosak Sirinuin, Wan Mohamad Noor Matha, and Prompong Nopparit.

Amsterdam emphasizes that the Army has no legal authority to govern and has acted in violation of both local and international law.

“Make no mistake, this is an illegitimate military coup that must be penalized with the full strength of sanctions and diplomatic measures to ensure the safety and security of the Thai people,” said Amsterdam. “Given the Thai Army’s human rights record, we are extremely concerned for the safety of the political prisoners, and we urge the international community to remain on high alert.”

Robert Amsterdam serves as international counsel to the United National Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) of Thailand. More information can be read at



Statement on Thai Army’s Declaration of Martial Law

LONDON, 21 May 2014 – The international community should be extremely concerned by the Thai Army’s declaration of martial law, which represents a clear step toward an outright military coup, says Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer acting on behalf of the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement.

Amsterdam said that the Red Shirts have tasked his law firm with making sure that every available international avenue is taken to ensure that there are effective and specific consequences against individuals involved in this illegal overthrow of civilian democratic governance.

“Thailand is in the midst of a coup by stages. Thai Army Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha is not seeking to prevent violence, but rather to prevent elections,” said Amsterdam. “We are deeply concerned for the human rights and safety of millions of Thai citizens in the face of an unlawful seizure of power by the same individuals who perpetrated the Bangkok massacre of 2010.”

The declaration of martial law, which grants the Army expansive powers to detain without charges, ban public meetings, and shut down media, was made early Tuesday morning when soldiers took over a number of television stations. Gen. Prayuth has told the media the Army intends to be a “mediator” between Red Shirts and the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), however he declined to answer questions about a coup or whether or not the elected government still exists.

According to a representative of the Electoral Commission as quoted by the newspaper Matichon, Prayuth told the body that “if an election can’t be held, then there should not be an election. If an election will lead to bloodshed, then it must not be held.”

The Thai Army leader has also made chilling statements, threatening to arrest and prosecute anyone who publishes information on social media that would “stir up the situation.”

Gen. Prayuth has a known history of partisan activity. In 2011, he brought a lese majeste complaint against Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan for giving a speech about the 2010 massacre of more than 90 unarmed protesters. On the other side of the negotiating table are the Former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, both of whom have been charged with murder for their roles in the deaths of protesters.

“The declaration of martial law represents a gross abuse of power that is disproportionate to any threat that Thailand may be facing. The world has woken up to these games, and it’s time to end impunity for the Thai elites,” said Amsterdam. “Nobody voted for the Army; they should return to the barracks where they belong. They must be made to understand that there will be significant consequences if democracy is overthrown yet again in Thailand.”

Robert Amsterdam serves as international counsel to the United National Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) of Thailand. More information can be read at



Video: Robert Amsterdam on CNBC Squawk Box

Lawyer Robert Amsterdam appears on CNBC to speak about the political crisis in Thailand, where he says that the elites have manipulated the constitutional court and electoral commission in an attempt to impose an unelected authoritarian government.



Birth of the “Juristocracy”

Ekachai pretty much nails it right here, via the New York Times:

The decision to remove Ms. Yingluck is “total nonsense in a democratic society,” said Ekachai Chainuvati, the deputy dean of the law faculty at Siam University in Bangkok.

“This is what I would call a juristocracy — a system of government governed by judges,” Mr. Ekachai said.


Journalists Must Be Protected From Violence in Thailand

In light of the recent brutal attacks against journalists in Thailand, including the beating of German photojournalist Nick Nostitz, we must again reiterate that the safety of the men and women working to gather information for media during these crucial moments must be protected, no matter what the political orientation of their platform.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) has released a very powerful statement on these recent events, which I attach in full below.

The professional membership of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand condemns another aggressive incident involving a journalist and unofficial security personnel belonging to a political faction.

In the wider context of the current political strife, there have been incidents of both torture and murder involving non-journalists. Violence against any individual is illegal. Harassment of the media is unconstitutional and hinders objective coverage of a complex and evolving political situation. It also distracts attention from issues of public interest.

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Response Statement: Suthep Leading a Thai Taliban

Following a speech delivered yesterday by lawyer Robert Amsterdam to a massive Red Shirt rally in Bangkok, the former Democrat Party member and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban issued an aggressive attack quoted by local media.

“He is a bloody farang, why does he interfere in Thai politics?,” Suthep said, repeatedly referring to Mr. Amsterdam as a “bastard” for suggesting that individual members of anti-democracy network should face international sanctions. “They want to convince the world to be on their side and force us to accept the opinion of international community. But what does the international community know about Thailand?”

In response to Suthep’s statement, Mr. Amsterdam issued the following comment:

“It’s a great disappointment that this is what passes for dialogue among the PDRC. Under Suthep’s leadership, his organization has threatened and attacked voters much like a Thai Taliban. Using the language of ‘reform,’ the Democrat Party network of senators, judges, and bureaucrats are conspiring to deprive millions of Thai citizens of their right to vote by seeking the unlawful removal of yet another elected government.”

“It’s clear that Suthep is deeply concerned by the recent news that the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is looking into alleged interference by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in parliamentary affairs by probing of 308 senators and former members of parliament for voting for a constitutional amendment. The international community should continue to remind these anti-government Thai elites that another judicial coup shall not be tolerated.”


Video: Speech at Red Shirt Rally


White Paper: Thailand – The Plot Against Democracy

Today we announce the release of our latest White Paper, entitled “Thailand: The Plot Against Democracy.”

The report can be read online here, or downloaded here.

The purpose of this White Paper is to alert the international community to an ongoing assault on democracy and the rule of law in Thailand, carried out by a coalition that includes members of the military, the courts, the public administration, the business world, the Democrat Party, among others. Further, it calls on the international community to throw its full-throated support behind the Yingluck government, aiding in its efforts to protect Thailand’s civilian population against the denial of its right to self-determination and against the imminent prospect of widespread violence.

As detailed in the report, the arbitrary and discriminatory administration of justice in pursuit of an anti-democratic agenda is at the center of Thailand’s political instability.

The continuing breakdown in the rule of law can be directly attributed to the abolishment of the democratic “People’s Constitution” of 1997 and its replacement with the “Coup Constitution” of 2007, which perpetuates restrictions to democratic rule by giving the judiciary and the bureaucracy the power to alter the results of freely conducted elections and to interfere in the activities of the legislative and executive branches.

The likely removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at the hands of the upper house, the courts, or the military, based on either the misapplication or nonobservance of the law, is almost sure to be followed by violence on a scale never before seen. This places the civilian population in Bangkok and in provinces where the government is strongly supported at an extreme risk of murder, arbitrary imprisonment, and torture, for which the PDRC already has a long track record.

In the long run, hopes for a durable peace in Thailand rest on the abolishment of the 2007 “Coup Constitution” and either the reinstatement of the 1997 “People’s Constitution” or the introduction of a new Constitution consistent with basic procedural and substantive requirements of democracy.

In the short run, however, the international community must act to defend Thailand’s beleaguered democracy based on its Responsibility to Protect. Further, if an individual state is failing in its duty, the concept of Responsibility to Protect calls upon the international community to take collective action within the framework of the UN Charter.

Protecting innocent civilians from brutal slaughter is no simple task in Thailand, as doing so requires breaking a cycle of lawless coups and killings that dates back decades. Now that the same groups responsible for this cycle of impunity are using every conceivable method to remove a duly elected government and destroy democracy, the international community must act to defend the lives and freedoms of the Thai civilian population from imminent danger. It should do so by coming to the aid and support of the Yingluck government, as it stands up to a coalition that has acted illegally and with such impunity for so long that it is simply blind to any semblance of the rule of law.

Thailand – The Plot Against Democracy by Robert Amsterdam


Prayuth – Thailand’s Thin-skinned Anti-Democratic General

In the last few days Thailand’s UDD Red Shirt movement appointed a new leader – the combative, energetic and principled, Jatuporn Promphan. Long a thorn in the side of the Thai establishment, Jatuporn exemplifies the struggle to secure Thailand’s democracy and his appointment marks a shift to a more assertive position for the UDD/Red Shirts.

As expected it didn’t take long for Thailand’s military chief, General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, to respond to Jatuporn’s appointment.

Prayuth, a figure noted for his thin-skinned responses to any criticism, attacked Jatuporn for being “rude” and lacking “honor”. General Prayuth then told the hastily convened press conference that he “won’t be talking” to Jatuporn. Some might believe that Prayuth’s comments are not really befitting a respected, senior military leader. However, such tone is very much in keeping with Prayuth’s often amateurish yet sometimes sinister comments.

When his troops wanted to cook the typical and very popular Thai dish – stir-fried spicy holy basil – Prayuth, claiming he couldn’t stand the smell, banned it from the kitchens. When I made a speech in Bangkok that relayed the facts of the Thai Army’s infamous role in the 2010 Bangkok Massacre he threatened both myself and my translator under Thailand’s criminal defamation law. When the democratically-elected government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra came under attack from forces that were clearly criminal and anti-democratic Prayuth seemingly refused to obey civilian orders and made very obvious noises that he wouldn’t rule out a military coup. And none should forget Prayuth’s role as a key architect of the 2010 Bangkok Massacre, being named as such in my submission to the International Criminal Court.

 Like much of the rest of Thailand’s military, Prayuth has never seen or taken part in combat. The main target of the leadership of the Thai Army is Thailand’s own population, a group for whom it seems to have very little respect, despite this population funding the military’s existence.

Threats towards civilian rule, threats of violence and threats to the safety and well-being of Thai democracy are all part of Prayuth’s mindset.

Just don’t be “rude” to him. Otherwise he’ll get really upset.