NY Times on the failure of investigations into deaths and injuries in April-May 2010

25 01 2011

Thomas Fuller at the New York Times has a story on those injured and killed in April and May 2010. It needs wide circulation and considered reading. It begins:

A zookeeper was shot and killed as he was leaving work. An anti-government demonstrator who sought shelter in a Buddhist temple was shot five times but lived, possibly because a coin in his satchel deflected a bullet. A soldier who rushed to help a fallen comrade after an explosion suffered severe brain damage from a second blast. The tales of the dead and wounded from the political violence last year in Bangkok could fill volumes. But they are not filling case dockets in the Thai courts.

He notes that the now 8-month investigation into the more than 90 killed and thousands injured and wounded appears to have “faltered.” What’s more, the so-called Independent Fact-Finding Commission for Reconciliation complains that “the military and the police are refusing to cooperate.” Because of the failure of authorities to provide information and to be interviewed, the “commission, which on Monday postponed a meeting at which it had planned to issue an interim report, now says it is not sure when the report might be ready.” This failure includes police, military (Somchai Homlaor, a member of the commission says: “We have sent them many letters and never heard back from them — at all.”), the government’s forensic department, which has not responded to requests for autopsies, and “telephone companies [that] are not cooperating…”.

What does the military say? Colonel Sansern Kaewkumnerd, a military spokesman, previously of CRES, said military representatives had twice met with the commission “last year” and “gave them all we have.” He added that “he was not aware of further requests for information from the commission.”

PPT has no doubt that Sansern is dissembling yet again. It is clear that the military knows far more than they will ever admit. And we are not alone. Fuller cites “Teera Suteewarangkurn, a law professor at Thammasat University in Bangkok, said the military leadership feared it would face a public outcry if it admitted that soldiers had killed civilians.” Teera also notes that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government “is concentrating on winning elections, which must be called by the end of the year”, and therefore “needs to drag its feet,” on the investigation. Jaran Cosananand, a professor of law at Ramkhamhaeng Universit, says the “legal process here has had unusual delays…. Political power undermines the law in Thailand.” Fuller concludes that the “military’s refusal to cooperate in the investigations underlines the ascendance of military power in Thailand.”

Fuller’s story gives attention to the victims of the violence, including soldiers, and has a photo essay here.



One response

4 02 2011
Tampering with evidence | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] posts, one on Phayao and Natthaputt Akkahad  being refused visas by the UK embassy in Bangkok and the second on seemingly stalled investigations into the events of April and May […]

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