There has been a flurry of anti-reconciliation news of late, and PPT is a little delayed in getting to this post.
A few days ago, Human Rights Watch issued a statement that the Yingluck Shinawatra “government’s new ‘political reconciliation’ proposals will undermine justice by giving immunity to those responsible for human rights abuses during bloody confrontations in Bangkok in 2010.”
PPT isn’t sure why the claim is that these are “new,” as reconciliation was placed on the agenda and politicized by the previous Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. What is “new” is perhaps that parliament is dealing with it. And, as PPT understands it, the proposed amnesty that HRW comments on is for far more than the events of May 2010.
PPT also abhors impunity in these cases, and we recognize that some of the families of those killed in the Abhisit government’s two violent military assaults in 2010 have also stated that they do not want amnesty to allow impunity for those responsible for the deaths in 2010.
HRW rightly points out that the:
Abhisit government charged hundreds of UDD protesters with serious criminal offenses without any basis, but did not file charges against any government officials or soldiers.
However, this statement is an exaggeration:
Since the Yingluck government took office in August 2011, the focus of criminal investigations has shifted entirely to cases in which soldiers were implicated while those involving UDD violence have been ignored.
As we understand it, the slimy lot at the Department of Special Investigation have continued to investigate until early March, but claim little or no evidence. Whether that is politics speaking or the truth, it remains true that the Abhisit government did precious little in tracking down the so-called armed black shirts said to be working with the red shirts.
It is interesting also that HRW also claim this:
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and the government-appointed Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand are still unable to complete their inquiries into the 2010 incidents due to insufficient support from the government, as well as mistrust and lack of cooperation from participants in the events. The work of the two agencies has also suffered from internal bureaucratic obstruction and a critical lack of political will to investigate government officials and UDD leaders fully and credibly.
The NHRC is simply not a credible organization and was heavily politicized under Abhisit, so we can ignore that group. The TRC is different and we wonder if HRW hasn’t been doing its reading? In the third and most recent report, the Commission states:
2.2.1 TRCT was established by the previous government (that of Abhisit Vejjajiva) which was one of parties in the conflict. This has limited and obstructed TRCT in carrying out its duties but, be that as it may, TRCT carried on adhering closely to the principle of public accountability until gained trust from every party. The most recent election resulted in a new government headed by Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra as Prime Minister. TRCT is pleased that the new government has established a policy of urgently building reconciliation and harmony among the people as well as the restoration of democracy during its first year of office….
Yes, the TRC has been critical of “hurried” reconciliation, but they are not speaking to “obstruction.”
Interestingly, the HRW report coincided with actions by the political opposition that appear to be as much about rewriting of history in the interests of the Democrat Party and in rebuilding rightist political alliances.
At The Nation it is reported that a religious ceremony was organized by the military, “opposition Democrat Party deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij, People’s Alliance for Democracy spokesman Panthep Puapongpan, and multicoloured shirt group leader Dr Tul Sitthisomwong.”
Some of those attending as Korn laid a wreath wore black T-shirts with the message “The truth will be known.” It is a pity that Korn and his allies didn’t seek truth when they were in government but rather sought, as they do now, to obfuscate.
Meanwhile, at the Bangkok Post Korn is reported as stressing that his:
party’s stance … calls for the establishment of truth and facts about political violence before an amnesty should be granted. He said uncovering the truth and accepting it were essential part of national reconciliation and the party considered it a responsibility to help the public find and establish facts.
It does seem just a little odd that Korn says this now but when in power did so little. But that is the elite’s self-given right to say and do whatever they want with no attention to anything other than political gain.
The Post also reports that a related seminar to commemorate the death of Colonel Romklao Thuwatham who was killed in the April 2010 crackdown on red shirts. This seminar was told “the government’s attempt to change the charter and push for a reconciliation bill has come under attack by opponents…”.
And who should be the speakers? Of course it is all the yellow-shirted activists of previous years. And they would never commemorate the murder of scores of red shirts, but commemorate a man “killed in battle” and “fighting for the king” [they are PPT's words]: appointed Senator Somchai Sawangkarn who “attacked the government for trying to forget the deaths of soldiers in the red shirt protests two years ago.”
The deep, deep yellow Senator Rosana Tositrakul who warned that “people should not be distracted by the multi-pronged tactics deployed by the government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The administration’s ultimate goal is to reduce the power of people under the present constitution…”. This from a senator who has supported removing people’s electoral rights! As ever, she warns of Thaksin Shinawatra and “secret” deals that we tend to think she concocts for political purpose.
And then there are the conspiricists, egged on by madright-wing American extremists who argue that the elected government is false: “We need to overthrow the current regime by law, not only through this means, and we also need to bring along the masses…”. This is a call for more PAD-like action.
It seems to us that, while Puea Thai’s reconciliation plan is flawed, the sudden vocal posturing by groups that were silent on these matters when the Democrat Party was in government stinks to high heaven.