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26
Jun

Thailand’s Red Shirts Meet the ICC

Today in The Hague, I accompanied a group of representatives from Thailand’s Red Shirt pro-democracy movement as well as independent members of civil society such as the historian Dr. Thongchai Winichakul to attend a very fruitful meeting with officials from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Given the public interest in this case, we thought it would be reasonable to share this letter authored by Dr. Winichakul which was presented to ICC officials some weeks ago.

Dr. Winichakul writes, “If impunity prevails again, how many more massacres before a single life is recognized as inviolable? How much more cruelty to civilians before every citizen can be equal in the land? How much more truth and justice to be sacrificed for justice to prevail and truth be told without fear? The ICC can help end this culture of impunity.

We hope that at some point in the future to share further information. The full text of Dr. Winichakul’s letter can be read below.

Letter to ICC Prosecutor Draft

9
Jun

RA’s Thailand News Blast – June 9, 2012

Thailand’s political parties continue to argue about the proposed reconciliation act.  The leader of PAD says that the act is an attempt to whitewash Thaksin Shinawatra’s reputation, and Democrat MP Chavanon accuses Thaksin of pushing for reconciliation from behind the scenes.  Pheu Thai says that the Democrats should refrain from partaking in anti-reconciliation protests, and discuss their grievances in parliament instead.  Pheu Thai headquarters have postponed all discussions relating to reconciliation due to the violent tempers flaring on both sides of the debate.  Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has not yet indicated whether the acts will be passed, but urges all sides to keep their discussion of the issue in parliament.  Nuttawat, the Agriculture Minister, says parliament is putting off any decisions due to fears of a coup.  General Prayuth is confident that there will not be a coup, although he has expressed concern over recent PAD / Red Shirt demonstrations.  PAD say they are not planning any further protests until after a decision has been reached on constitution law.

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5
Jun

Judicial Coup, Redux: The Case for Impeaching Thailand’s Constitutional Court

On June 1, 2012, Thailand’s Constitutional Court took the extraordinary step of issuing an injunction, quickly shown to have violated the law and exceeded the bounds of the Court’s constitutional authority,1 ordering the National Assembly to cease all deliberations on a proposed amendment to the 2007 Constitution, pending a review of the amendment’s constitutionality. The injunction was issued on the same day when a few hundred activists from the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), in cooperation with members of the opposition Democrat Party, blockaded all roads to Thailand’s parliament, preventing the House of Representatives from meeting to debate a controversial “Reconciliation Act.” The previous two meetings of the House had been disrupted by the PAD’s threat to storm the halls of the National Assembly, and by the intemperate outbursts of Democrat Party members of parliament, some of whom physically assaulted the House Speaker and other parliamentarians. Once again, the PAD, the Democrat Party, and the Constitutional Court have teamed up to delegitimize the democratic process, prevent the representatives of the Thai people from fulfilling their legislative functions under the Constitution, and lay the groundwork for the removal of a duly elected and legally constituted government, whether by military force (as in 2006) or by judicial intervention (as in 2008).

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2
Jun

DEMOCRACY UNDER SIEGE

This past Friday, the Thai people’s representatives, chosen less than a year ago in a democratic election, were blockaded from entering the grounds of the National Assembly to perform their duties under the constitution. The illegal blockade was the work of the so-called Democrat Party, a party that has not won an election in over twenty years, and perhaps as few as one thousand protesters forming part of a movement, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), whose leaders are on record demanding the abolition of representative democracy, the establishment of a theocracy (a “dharmocracy,” to be precise), and the closing of the country for a long enough time to “cleanse” it of their political enemies.

Aside from being unacceptable in its own right, the fact that a few hundred people were able to pull off this operation demonstrates the tenuousness of the situation in which the elected government of a supposedly democratic country now finds itself. While the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra should be commended for its restraint, under normal circumstances the police should be able to guarantee the free exercise of the right to protest while providing the country’s legislators access to their place of work. That no safe passage could be guaranteed is less an issue of numbers, training, and logistics than it is the product of a crude political reality. The PAD and the Democrat Party are taking advantage of the impunity they have always enjoyed to spark a confrontation, of the kind that would give the military the pretext to stage another coup. The government and the police have little room to maneuver, if they are to avoid this disastrous eventuality.

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31
May

RA’s Thailand News Blast – May 31, 2012

Panthep, the spokesperson for the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), says that if the reconciliation act is passed, PAD will demand that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra step down; there is also a suggestion that they may storm the parliament if demands are not met. PAD and its allies were planning to march to parliament this afternoon to demand that the reconciliation acts be dropped; members of the Multi-Colored Shirts were speaking against the acts outside the parliament building.  Yingluck has called for peaceful protests.  Somsak, the parliamentary speaker, has defended the proposal of the reconciliation act, as has Deputy PM Chalerm, who denies that the act would only benefit Thaksin Shinawatra, as many critics have suggested.  The Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Vicha, says that the reconciliation act would allow the government to abuse its power by whitewashing Thaksin’s case.  Democrat MP Kasit denies saying that he would protest with PAD if the reconciliation act is not dropped.  Former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva says his party will oppose the reconciliation act, believing that, if passed, it will create chaos.  35 representatives of the parliamentary committee will review whether or not reconciliation acts can be tied to financial acts, as this will denote whether or not such an act would have to be signed by Yingluck.

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31
May

Democrat Party MPs Turn Violent

Democrat Party MP goes for the throat

When Thailand’s former Prime Minister, Mark Abhisit, sent his soldiers to attack my clients in April/May 2010 he did so, ostensibly, to protect “the rule of law”. That Mark’s soldiers used snipers to slaughter unarmed civilians is now a point of historical record, a fact that will always stain his neatly coiffured PR image.

We’ve also always contended that Mark’s real intention in April/May 2010 was actually to protect his own subversion of the rule of law and prevent an entirely legitimate protest holding him to account for the democratically unmandated prime ministership he’d “acquired” in 2008 after he’d received backing from the Thai Army and allied himself with violent actions of the extreme rightwing yellow-shirted PAD movement.

After losing the 2011 election in such humiliating circumstances, being roundly demolished at the ballot box by the completely novice but capable Yingluck Shinawatra, the Thai people probably hoped they’d sent Mark as clear a message it was possible to send – “We don’t want you or your party in government”. Delivering the kind of electoral mandate that the Thai electorate gave Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party would, in a fully-functioning democracy, usually result in a period of stability and would cause the losing party to retreat to figure out where they went wrong. Somehow this simple lesson in democracy seems to have gone straight over the Eton and Oxford educated Mark Abhisit’s head.

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20
May

Robert Amsterdam Speech to Red Shirt Rally 19 May 2012

13
May

RA’s Thailand News Blast – May 13, 2012

Ampon Tangnoppakul, also known as Ar Kong and ‘Uncle SMS’, the 62-year-old grandfather given a 20 year sentence after being convicted under lèse majesté, has died in prison.  His funeral was held yesterday.  Supporters and mourners gathered last week outside the Ratchada Criminal Court to mark his passing.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm denies that Pheu Thai MPs have been meeting with Thaksin Shinawatra in China to negotiate the configuration of the cabinet, and says that any decision on the cabinet is up to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose attention is currently focused on the problem of inflation.  A spokesperson for the Pheu Thai party says that short-term government plans to ease inflation include stabilising the price of goods and encouraging grocery stores to lower their prices.  Yingluck has complained that journalists are not correctly quoting her on inflation, (in reference to an earlier report that she had said perceived price rises were linked to the start of the school semester) and blames inflation on the flood and the global increase of gas prices.  Democrat spokesperson Mulika has attacked Yingluck for failing to understanding the real causes of price increases.  A spokesperson for the Pheu Thai party suggested that the opposition were making up stories about rising prices as part of a ‘political game’.  Former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva says the government needs to face facts.

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11
May

Abhisit’s Final Insult to Ah Kong

Opposition leader Mark Abhisit Vejjajiva has responded to the tragic death of lese majeste victim Mr. Amphol Tangnoppakul (“Ah Kong”) with one of his trademark Orwellian statements. Before warning mourners not to “exploit” Mr. Amphon’s death by “turning it into a political issue,” Mark Abhisit asked that the government, in the interest of “justice,” provide a full explanation of what led to Mr. Amphol’s sudden passing. We do not speak for the government, but the facts that might allow Mark Abhisit to reconstruct Mr. Amphol’s death are in the public domain.

“Ah Kong,” a sixty-one-year old cancer-stricken man, was arrested in the summer of 2010 as part of the lese majeste witch-hunt initiated by Mark Abhisit’s government. According to experts, the year 2010 saw a three-fold increase in the number of lese majeste cases reaching the lower courts from the previous year, which had itself shattered earlier records. The criminal complaint against Ah Kong was initiated by none other than Mark Abhisit’s personal secretary, who reported the content of four SMS messages he received on his mobile phone. Naturally, Mark Abhisit claims to have known nothing about it, but his history of lies and distortions calls his credibility into serious question.

Following his arrest, Mr. Amphol was subjected to a horrifying array of violations to his basic human rights: two months in detention without charge, repeated rejections of bail requests while awaiting trial, denial of proper medical treatment, and finally a grotesque twenty-year prison sentence handed down in late 2011, at the conclusion of a process that required the defendant to prove his innocence, instead of placing the burden on the prosecutor to establish his guilt. Even the presiding judge admitted the evidence was not conclusive, but that did not stop him from sentencing Ah Kong to die in prison.

Given the appalling prison conditions for which Thailand is infamous, it is no surprise that Mr. Amphol’s cancer was allowed to spread without proper monitoring or treatment. Detainees generally, and political prisoners in particular, are frequently denied the medical care they need while in custody. As recently as February 2012, the Appeals Court reasoned that Mr. Amphol’s health condition was not serious enough to warrant bail.

The death of Mr. Amphol is a continuation of the policy of terror against the Thai people enacted by Mark Abhisit Vejjajiva’s previous Democrat Party regime that began with 1000s of troops on the street of Bangkok in 2009, the use of army snipers against unarmed civilians in 2010 and the abuse of Article 112 for political gain. The use of 112 was systematically ramped up by the Democrat’s and Mark Abhisit and this has included demagoguing the issue to prevent the law from being reformed in any way. If Mark Abhisit wants to find out who is responsible for Mr. Amphol’s death, he ought to start with himself and his patrons in the military.

Mark Abhisit Vejjajiva may not appreciate it, but confronting the Thai public with evidence of the barbarity of his own actions is not an “exploitation” of Mr. Amphol’s death. It is rather the only way to make sure that Ah Kong did not die for nothing, and to help save the lives of others who have been victimized by Article 112. Ah Kong’s tragic death does not need to be “turned into a political issue.” Ah Kong’s death is a political issue—a symbol of everything that is rotten and backward and inhuman about the political establishment to which Mark Abhisit Vejjajiva has sold his soul.

11
Apr

Korn’s Insult to Kok Wua Victims

The Democrat Party’s sole claim to political power is that the Thai people are too stupid to choose their own leaders. Even worse than being reduced to this pathetic stance is the fact that Democrat Party officials actually believe their own rhetoric, judging by the lengths to which they are willing to go to insult the public’s intelligence.

In the final days of last year’s election campaign, the desperate Democrats held a rally at Rachaprasong. Before the rally, the Butcher of Bangkok, Mark Abhisit Vejjajiva, had the audacity to invite relatives of the six people who had died at Wat Pathumwanaram on May 19, 2010 to listen to his version of “the truth” in order to gain a “better understanding of the situation”. While Abhisit revealed no new information on the killings, his Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban went on to blame the victims for their own deaths, repeating the discredited claim that gun powder residue was found on the hands of four of the victims. As the election results demonstrated a few days later, the Thai people did not buy any of Abhisit’s or Suthep’s lies.

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