Opposing impunity

3 06 2013

In one of our recent posts, PPT commented on the Army’s continuing efforts to maintain the impunity it has historically had when murdering its own citizens. One of the concerns amongst red shirt groups and others who saw family and friends gunned down in 2010 is that some of the proposed amnesty bills will result in political and military leaders being immune from prosecution. Unfortunately, this is a real possibility, and in recent days the families of some of those killed have spoken out.

At Khao Sod it is reported that Elisabetta, sister of murdered photo-journalist Fabio Polenghi has “expressed her opposition to any bill that will grant amnesty to those responsible of the military operation which resulted in her brother′s death.” She states she has particular concerns about a draft bill proposed by deputy premier Chalerm Yubamrung,

which would grant amnesty to all those involved in political cases from 2006 to 2010 including former PM Abhisit Vejjajeeva, who had been charged with murders for his role in ordering crackdown against the Redshirts; the military would also benefit from the amnesty.

She pleaded with ruling party parliamentarians, “insisting that absolving the authorities of their responsibility would destroy every effort she and other families of the victims had been putting into their quest for justice in the last 3 years.” She was not opposed to an amnesty for leaders once they had been convicted.

Elisabetta added that she supported an “amnesty bill that helped political prisoners who were jailed for their roles in the 2010 protests.”

An interesting footnote to the story is that Abhisit has contacted Elisabetta, seeking a meeting. She invited him to join her at the event this report comes from, but he declined.

Meanwhile, at The Nation, it is reported that relatives of some of the victims from 2010 have also expressed opposition to Chalerm’s draft bill and any others that grant amnesty to murderers. Nurse Kamolkade Akkahad was killed, and her family has been at the forefront of moves for accountabuility. Her brother Nattapat and mother Phayao held a press conference to express opposition. They “also called for the removal of Tarit Pengdith, head of the Department of Special Investigation, from its team probing the killings.”

Phayao expressed the family’s position:

first, they confirmed that they did not ignore people now imprisoned due to accusations during “Black May” protests in 1992 as they stated that they would support the people’s bill. Secondly, they reject both the National Reconciliation Bill and the Amnesty Bill, as they don’t want to see culprits get off without being punished for their actions. Thirdly, they said if the head of the DSI (Department of Special Investigation) remained, the truth would not be revealed. DSI chief Tarit Pengdith should resign, as Tarit was part of the Centre of Resolution for the Emergency Situation – and thus a suspect in terms of those responsible for killings.

Nattapat said the government and red-shirt leaders had ignored them: “We feel like being a political piece of meat, that we have no meaning to them – they’re just using us if they feel they want to.” He also said of the military: “I’m not afraid of you”.

Thaksin Shinawatra is on record as having “told his red-shirt followers he favours an amnesty bill that excludes not only protest leaders and those responsible for the crackdowns, but also himself.” If this was not more than a bit of political blarney, Thaksin needs to say it again and again. The state’s impunity must end.



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