Kasit on Burma

3 10 2010

In PPT’s post on Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya’s speech at the Asia Society, we had this:

A Q[uestion] on Burma. What’s happening there now? Kasit talks of his “friends” there and their desire for freedom of expression and so on. “The election is a first step back to an open, democratic society, so let’s support them…”. It may not be a completely fair, inclusive election, but it is a first step. Let’s support it. Kasit says he is going to do more about getting the intellectuals and emigres to return to Burma following the election. Is this a suggestion that they will be “trained and deported”?

Simon Roughneen in The Irrawaddy reports further on this remarkable statement and says that Kasit is “working on a plan to repatriate Burmese refugees and intellectuals after the Nov. 7 election, saying that the Thai government will assist in their return to ‘half-democratic’ Burma.” He quotes Kasit as saying that he would “launch a more comprehensive program for the Myanmar people in the camps, the displaced, the intellectuals who run around the streets of Bangkok and Chiang Mai province, to return to Myanmar after the elections.”

Kasit Piromya.

Burmese emigre’s have expressed surprise and think Kasit is out of step “with what the international community…”. Amnesty International’s Benjamin Zawacki refers to the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s “blemished” record on migrants, mentioning Rohingya and Hmong refugees who have been ill-treated and repatriated against their will (or worse).

Roughneen cites “Wong Aung, the coordinator of the Thailand-based Shwe Gas Movement, which raises awareness about the role of Burma’s growing natural resource revenues in sustaining military rule in the country,” who is “concerned about the growing economic ties between Thailand and Burma,” and sees this as undermining any limited, lingering human rights concerns within the Abhisit government.

PPT thinks that economic relations are probably important, however, at the same time, it seems that the Abhisit regime is bent on building a coalition of political support amongst its authoritarian neighbors in Laos, Burma and Vietnam. Relations with Cambodia remain strained, however. Building non-Western support is important for Abhisit’s regime as it adopts increasingly authoritarian political strategies.

And, remembering that Kasit’s main task is Thaksin trailing and hunting, we are told that Kasit believes alliances with neighbors are important in fencing the countries off so that the “evil one,” Thaksin Shinawatra, cannot use them in his attacks on Thailand.

PPT was also interested to see this report also citing the tame and pro-Abhisit regime “human rights lawyer Somchai Homlaor” who says that “any such plan would be against Thai law and international law and would be resisted by the UN and the international community.” Well, yes, but if the Hmong forced repatriation has told Kasit and Abhisit anything, it is that critics are weak-kneed and have short attention spans. And, Somchai himself, as a member of the government’s reform commission and a supporter of the 2006 coup and all that has happened since, demonstrates that even an authoritarian government that shows almost no regard for the human rights of its citizens and less for foreigners can have the support of so-called human rights advocates.

Somchai complains about political prisoners in Burma and to claim that the Burmese election “will not be democratic,” that “the situation there will not get better,” and worries that “refugees will face persecution” if repatriated. That is all correct and needs to be said, indeed shouted out. However, it is a great pity that Somchai does not maintain a consistency on human rights and turn his lens to similar failures in Thailand.



7 responses

3 10 2010
Tweets that mention Kasit on Burma « Political Prisoners in Thailand -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by อิสระภาพ แห่งข่าวสาร, NEWSpace. NEWSpace said: Kasit on Burma: In PPT’s post on Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya’s speech at the Asia Society, we had this: A Q[ues… http://bit.ly/92uQnR […]

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[…] government adopted hardline tactics more than once. It copped plenty of flak. Then minister Kasit Piromya even worked on plans to repatriate Burmese refugees. The Yingluck Shinawatra government was unable to reign in the […]

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