Wikileaks: more on HRW and the coup III

5 02 2012

This is the fourth of our posts on Human Rights Watch and the events that unfolded following the 2006 coup. Wikileaks has 58 cables mentioning HRW in Thailand, the majority related to events in the South. In this post, as in the previous instances, we look at cables related to the political struggles.

Our earlier posts may be found here, here and here.

We begin with a cable from November 2006, which is mostly about an investigation into the deaths associated with the War on Drugs. The cable states:

In February 2003, [Prime Minister] Thaksin [Shinawatra] launched a national campaign targeting drug dealers and traffickers as a threat to society and national security. Over the next several months hundreds of alleged drug offenders were killed. Estimates of the number of people killed vary. Post [i.e. Embassy] estimates the number killed as a result of this policy to be approximately 1,300. Other estimates range as high as 2,600.

HRW has consistently used a figure of 2,800. At the time that this cable was composed, HRW’s Sunai Phasuk was working with others including “former senator Kraisak Choonhavan, National Human Rights Commissioner Wasan Panich, and Chairman of the Thai Lawyer’s Council Human Rights Committee, Somchai Homlaor” in a private investigation of 40 cases.

In a conversation with Embassy staff, Sunai is reported as claiming that:

he initiated this effort in the days immediately before the September 19 coup by informing persons close to Privy Council President Prem [Tinsulanonda] that, if Thaksin were to be removed from power, a group of activists intended to push for re-examination of EJKs [extrajudicial killings] during the War on Drugs. Sunai said that this information was “received positively.” He said that he was surprised when the coup leaders did not list ‘gross human rights abuses’ as one of the official reasons for ousting Thaksin.

While the War on Drugs was reprehensible, it is revealing that HRW is claimed to be enmeshed with coup planners. On this enmeshment, the cable adds more when he is asked why the group “waited two months before publicly moving forward with its campaign.” Sunai responded that:

Prem only recently signaled his approval for the interim government to move forward with re-opening investigations after making certain that none of the proposed cases will implicate the military.

In effect, in order to investigate cases, the human rights “defenders” are complicit is covering up the military’s involvement and ties investigations into extrajudicial killings to the political agenda of Prem and the post-2006 coup military junta.



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