MFA responds to HRW

8 03 2011

Human Rights Watch presented a critical report on Thailand back in late January. More than a month later, on 5 March, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has posted its official response. We had thought that the MFA had responded earlier, but the date on the post is as shown here.

The Ministry begins with an epistle about the current regime’s concern for human rights, says these are in the 2007 Constitution and laudes Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for “personally chairing the relevant committees” and says the “Government has placed the promotion and protection of human rights high on its agenda…”.

Of course, the 2007 Constitution was developed in an entirely undemocratic manner by a military-backed government. While including provisions on human rights, the same document greatly reduced the representative nature of politics and placed considerable power in the hands of unelected officials. That the premier chairs human rights committees seems to pale before his chairing of committees that have overseen repression, censorship and the jailing of regime opponents.

It argues that HRW “focused on certain groups and issues without fully taking into account all the relevant facts.” The government means that HRW focused on actual violations of human rights rather than, presumably, the platitudes that flow from government acting spokesmen, committees and a military-backed regime.

On the charge that security forces responded with “excessive force” to the red shirt demonstrations, the government says it is “democratic” and states that HRW is wrong. As might be expected, the government uses the argument that the red shirts were violent and claims to have evidence of “indiscriminate” use of weapons, killing  “demonstrators, innocent bystanders and security officers.” It is a pity that, if such evidence does exist, it is not available for examination by, say, the Department of Special Investigation, which keeps changing the state’s story. Perhaps a claim can be made that state violence was not “indiscriminate” as military snipers targeted particular people?

The MFA claims that “the authorities exercised utmost restraint and adopted clearly stipulated rules of engagement. These rules were formulated in accordance with the principle of proportionality and international standards, including strict instructions on the use of live ammunition.”

That constitutes a fabrication as “live fire zones” have no place in international law. 91 dead and thousands injured is not “restraint” unless one accepts that the regime was prepared to accept, as it was, casualties in excess of 1,000.

The mention above of the DSI is significant for the MFA states that the DSI “has kept the public informed of the progress of its investigations.” Another fabrication.

That is followed by another: “no individual is currently being held in custody under the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation, which was lifted on 22 December 2010. All those remaining in detention have been charged in accordance with the Criminal Code and accorded due process of law and rights.” That claim would be laughable if it was not so tragic.

Apparently, the MFA believes that “Thai people [and media] are free to enjoy their constitutional rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.” It seems that the state only closes media, censors, throws in jail and represses those “spreading distorted information to incite violence and hatred among Thais or against the monarchical institution in contravention to the law…”. Yes, there it is, rule of law in Thailand means that the monarchy is not subject to any criticism. There is ample evidence that the regime’s claim is a lie.

The claim is again made that lese majeste is now under the control of Prime Minister Abhisit’s “special advisory panel.”  It is said to “help screen and give advice to the police and public prosecutors on the merits of relevant cases under their purview in order to ensure that this provision of the law is enforced in line with its purpose of protecting the dignity of the monarchy while respecting and taking into account people’s constitutional rights.” Since it has been in place there has been a deepening of lese majeste repression, with more promised.

There’s more of this kind of fabrication, on refugees, for example. Read it and weep for the lack of rule of law and basic freedoms.


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8 03 2011



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