The U.S. State Department’s annual report on human rights is out. The report for Thailand, as a PDF, is here.
There is much that could be said, especially for a report that begins erroneously: “A coalition government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva, of the People’s Power Party, has been in power since 2008.” Goodness, has the editing at State come to this! Asia Provocateur has some comments here.
[Update: We checked a couple of days later and they had corrected this revealing carelessnes.]
The report then tells us this: “Anti-government protests that resulted in significant political unrest from March to May in Bangkok and various
northeastern provinces, along with continuing internal conflict in the southern-most provinces, led the government to restrict some rights and delegate certain internal security powers to the armed forces. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.” Anyone who seriously follows Thai politics knows that the military does what it wants.
PPT can just list some of the statements made in the report and readers can decide if the Human Rights report for Thailand is serious in its discussion of human rights. It has to be said that the report is remarkably schizophrenic. It has mantras that will please the current regime, but then lists a range of “exceptions” and “contradictions”:
There were no confirmed reports that the government or its agents committed any politically motivated killings…. There were reports of killing, torture, and unlawful detention during the year in connection with the conflict in the southernmost provinces. Well, yes, but also related to red shirt detainees.
Ensuing clashes with government security forces left 92 persons dead. However, it remained unclear how many were killed by security forces, by armed factions associated with the protest, or by accident. By accident??
There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated disappearances. See here. In all of this, the emphasis is on “confirmed.”
The constitution specifically prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, government forces occasionally arrested and detained persons arbitrarily.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Although the judiciary generally was regarded as independent, it was subject to corruption and outside influences. According to human rights groups, the lack of progress in several high-profile cases involving alleged abuse by the police and military diminished the public’s trust in the justice system and discouraged some victims of human rights abuses (or their families) from seeking justice.
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees. Obviously, the 100+ still detained red shirts and hundreds of lese majeste victims don’t count for the State Department.
Freedom of speech and of the press occasionally were curtailed by government interference and the use of provisions authorized under the Emergency Decree. Attempts by the government to hamper freedom of expression on the Internet increased. Television and radio broadcasters also were monitored closely, and the government exerted pressure on broadcast media to cooperate in disseminating constructive and “balanced” news, especially after the April 7 invocation of the decree in response to the onset of civil unrest. “Occasionally” seems to mean months and months! In essence, though, State thinks like the Abhisit regime: if there is criticism of the government, all is okay. Forget all the blocked and closed media that can now say nothing!
Lese majeste gets mentioned and some recent cases are listed at pages 17-18. However, no connection is made to political prisoners.
Read the whole schizophrenic report.