With 3 updates: Commentary on the Reuters leaked DSI documents

10 12 2010

As noted in our previous post, the Reuters leak of Department of Special Investigation documents on the events related to some of the deaths in April and May 2010, deserves some commentary. A second Reuters report can be found here.

The first point to make is that the documents do say more than the government, CRES and the military have ever been prepared to admit (see Bangkok Pundit on this). However, the information in the documents are apparent confirmation of the claims in numerous sources in the recent past. In fact, DSI’s reports do little more than confirm that credible witnesses have given their testimony. We doubt many sympathetic to the red shirts will see much new in the report although they will be both pleased to have something that looks official and they will also likely still wonder about the deaths beyond these two events at Rajadamnoen and Wat Pathum Wanaram. There is still much to be explained.

That the documents have been leaked – we guess by someone in the police, who had the documents from DSI – is a statement of anger over the state’s refusal to accept the possibility of any responsibility and a fear that a cover-up was in the making. After all, these details have been available to senior officials for some time. Some suggest the leak might have something to do with Thaksin speaking (maybe) in the U.S. The leak also comes right after the Democrat Party got off an electoral fraud charge, again.

From the Telegraph.

PPT is not trying to diminish the significance of the leaked documents. They are important in the ongoing political debates and opposition to the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime and its murderous acts in 2010. They may also be important for determining if there were others involved, from, say the red shirt side. The most the documents show, as Reuters explains, is: “The Thai military played a larger role in the killing of civilians during political unrest in Bangkok this year than officials have acknowledged.”

Some of the details are chilling. For example, on the Wat murders, it is stated: “One witness said he saw soldiers firing from the elevated train track into a medical tent inside the compound, where two nurses treating wounded civilians were killed.” The claim that soldiers were simply responding to fire on them is thus seen to be false, for no fire came from a medical tent that would have seen directed fire on the injured and the people treating them.

PPT guesses that the culture of impunity will continue, with those responsible for the deaths claiming “shootings were committed in the line of official duty.” We can’t imagine that anyone in the senior reaches of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime who ordered the murders will receive any sanction.

Update 1: Surasak Glahan and Naowarat Suksamran have a useful report on the Reuters story in the Bangkok Post, headlined “Hopes for justice fading fast.” Amongst other things, they say: “Holding security officers to account for their role in the crackdowns on red shirt protesters this year will be difficult, even if a critical report by the Department of Special Investigation suggests they are more culpable than they have let on.” And they add: “for people affected by the violence, the task of taking legal action against the state already looks enormous. They face several hurdles, including the possibility that troops will enjoy legal immunity under the emergency decree from prosecution; the reluctance of state agencies to cooperate with official inquiries under way into what happened; and the hesitancy of some victims to come forward to claim compensation and file complaints. They fear they may be persecuted further by the state.” Read the whole article.

Update 2: For the tepid response by Abhisit and DSI, see two articles at MCOT News, here and here, and note that Abhisit raises the possibility that security forces may not be charged and the DSI claim that the details of investigations will never be made available in full. Note that the Reuters report is getting some international traction at The Telegraph and also at The Guardian.

Update 3: There is a report in The Nation that adds a little more to the story surrounding the government’s report/s on the deaths associated with red shirt rallies. The DSI and Abhisit seem to be taking a harder line, notably Abhisit who, in PPT’s view, is beginning an argument to exonerate military murders (again). Also of interest is the plan by Somyos Preuksakasemsuk, who leads the red shirt June 24 Group to go to the Japanese embassy to submit what the newspaper chooses to put in inverted commas: “evidence”. This evidence would “be a CD of pictures, a video of interviews with four people who helped the cameraman after he was shot and an English language letter about suspicions that suggested the Thai government was trying to hide something,…”. Finally, there is the note concerning a Senate committee that claims to have evidence that is supportive of the Reuters leaked documents.



2 responses

12 12 2010
More on the DSI’s leaked report | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has another story with some further details, adding to the material in an earlier post PPT had. In another post, PPT mentioned our concern that the culture of impunity will continue, with those responsible for […]

24 12 2010
More on leaks from DSI | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] on the military.” It is not immediately clear if these documents are different from those earlier leaked to Reuters. It may be the same set of reports, although The Nation appears to provide additional […]

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