As people begin to wade through the Truth for Reconciliation Commission report on the April and May 2010 violence, it seems that the initial public relations exercise of praising the report for “truth, balance, impartiality and fairness” is beginning to drain away in the face of more thoughtful and less propagandist accounts. The huge effort expended on tracing “men in black” – in some accounts there were apparently hundreds of them – seems to amount to almost nothing in the TRC’s report. Bangkok Pundit concludes: “The thought of reading the report given its length and that it really doesn’t tell us much more than what we knew before.”
Pravit Rojanaphruk, who seemed to have a leaked report (and a longer one!), is now more critical in his assessment than in his earlier account. At The Nation he refers to the TRC report as “a missed opportunity to establish truth and reconciliation.” He points out:
It is no secret that the TRCT’s birth was controversial. Then-prime minister Abhisit had hand-picked chairman Kanit na Nakorn and one of the key commissioners, human-rights lawyer Somchai Hom-laor, had shown signs of being partial towards the yellow shirts. In 2006, he had written to old friends asking them not to be too harsh with the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in 2006.
Pravit adds that: “its credibility was further undermined when it appointed Maetha Maskaow, a former close aide and protege of PAD secretary Suriyasai Katasila, as a member of its investigation subcommittee.”
Hence, all the concentration on “men in black,” which begins to look like a yellow shirt account, is said to have been “presented in far too broad a brushstroke, leading to more questions.” Indeed, for PPT, it is just an account of previous accounts with little added. All it seems to do is look for reasons why the military killed so many. The fact is, the military was shooting before alleged actions by “men in black.”
Pravit points out the spurious claim by the TRC “of knowing the true ‘intentions’ of the ‘men in black’ was never substantiated…”. He concludes:
Nevertheless, without basing its “truth” on clear methodology and evidence that can be widely accepted and trusted on both sides of the political divide, reconciliation is very unlikely and impunity can almost be guaranteed.