The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has warned that “anti-human rights forces” have taken “control of key national institutions in Thailand and are digging in to fight for political control of the country…”.
In its annual human rights day report on Thailand, the AHRC says that Thailand’s “internal security state” remains highly authoritarian but now has a “more refined public relations and a sharper concern for new types of political and technological threats to its authority” than previous repressive states. The internal security state uses expanded “emergency regulations to legitimate all state actions while also producing impunity; failure to meet obligations under international human rights law; the obfuscation of truth and curtailment of justice; and failure of the country’s human rights institutions to perform according to their mandate”. No middle ground exists for citizens to express political views “without fear of criminalization or violence”.
The 21-page report on Thailand reviews the events of April-May 2010, including the government’s violent crackdown on protesters, accounts of individual cases (e.g. activist Sombat Boonngamanong, human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, war on drugs victims and cases of deaths in custody in the south), and details that show the repressive state apparatus has “over many decades been associated with gross and widespread human rights violations in Thailand”.
It is stated that: “Independent voices and actors have been targeted in increasingly frequent, increasingly cynical and increasingly ridiculous criminal actions that are having the effect of greatly reducing the opportunities for sensible and informed debate on the serious problems that the country is facing, as well as pushing the judicial system further and further into a system for the pursuit of blatant political ends through superficially legal means…”.
The report also “draws attention to how the emergency regulations in Thailand clearly violate international law and are contrary to its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it points out, is consistent with the government of Thailand’s non-compliance with treaties and agreements to which it has committed itself.” Of concern too is the report’s claim that
Despite the persistent and flagrant violation of international law through application of these states of emergency, and notwithstanding the calls of human rights organizations, the UN Human Rights Council has remained mute on the rapidly deteriorating situation of human rights in Thailand,” the report states, noting that this is in part because Thailand’s ambassador to the council, an apologist for gross human rights abuses in his country, is currently the council chairman.
The report notes the awful performance of the National Human Rights Commission, which lacks independence and has shown a reluctance to engage in effective action to defend even the most basic of human rights.
Adding to this worsening situation, the report notes that the authorities responsible for human rights abuses escape culpability and that it is the victims who have “been made to pay the price for their demands for truth and justice…”. The culture of impunity rules.
And, as might be expected, the report points to the continuing and deepening use of lese majeste and computer crimes laws as a means to repress opposition and dissent.
Read the whole report. While regular readers of PPT won’t find a great deal that is new, the report remains striking as it clearly documents the rise of forces that are antithetical to human rights and democracy.