Updated: Political prisoners identified

10 01 2012

The U.S. State Department needs to take note of this report in the Bangkok Post. According to the report, there are “about 50 people fitting the status of political prisoners” in Thailand.

PPT reckons this is a very low estimate – we’d put it closer to 300 – but the State Department regularly states, in its Human Rights Report [a PDF], that there are none, zilch, nil, zero political prisoners. Let’s quote them: “There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.”

Now that there is a rough official estimate that makes the State Department look very, very silly indeed.

The report states that the “Corrections Department has drawn up criteria for deciding which inmates are to be defined as political prisoners and moved to a new jail.” That move is in line with a recommendation by the Truth for Reconciliation Commission.

A panel chaired by Kobkiat Kasiwiwat “agreed that political prisoners are those who face criminal charges, are on trial or seeking judicial appeals as a result of political conflicts before and after Sept 19, 2006 coup.”

According to the report:

Under these criteria, yellow-shirt protesters charged in connection with the seizure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports and red shirts charged with terrorism and arson over political unrest in 2010 are designated as political prisoners.

There have only a handful of yellow shirts jailed over political violence, and we guess that many of them are already released. Meanwhile, the red shirts claim that there remain more than 100 of their number in jail.

Part of the reason the number of political prisoners is so “low” is that “Kobkiat said the Corrections Department would exercise utmost judgement when lese majeste charges are involved.”

Of course, for PPT, all lese majeste cases are political. Indeed, they can’t be anything else in royalist Thailand.

Update: A reader asks if we are supporting the idea of political prisoners being institutionalized separately is “normalizing” the idea that there are political prisoners in Thailand. We’re not doing this. Rather, we are pointing out that, contrary to the U.S. State Department, even Thai officials now admit that they have political prisoners incarcerated. We also added inverted commas to the word “low” above. PPT wants all political prisoners released.



One response

11 01 2012
Good news for some red shirts « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] isn’t clear is if these are the same “about 50″ political prisoners identified in an earlier report or how this number is related to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship claim claim […]

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