Updated: West talks human rights, trains with Thai military

23 05 2016

The groups of aged women “demonstrating” at the US Embassy and demanding that Ambassador Glyn Davies be ousted from Thailand for commenting on lese majeste and human rights might suggest yet another junta-linked low point between the two former firm friends.

Behind the huffing and puffing though the USA and other Western states are dealing with the military dictatorship.

The Army Times reports that the US Army will send “soldiers from 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division … to the Asia-Pacific region to train with the Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian armies.”

Earlier, in 2015, the US’s Pacific Pathways exercises were conducted with “Mongolia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia and Indonesia.”

Pathways is said to be “about enhanced interoperability. It’s really about enhanced readiness…”. It is reported that the “next Pathways will kick off in June, with soldiers from 2nd Stryker Brigade…. The soldiers will travel first to Thailand for Hanuman Guardian.”

Meanwhile, the Australian government, which like the US has been critical of Thailand’s junta and its failures on human rights, is reported in The Diplomat has been co-hosting, with Thailand, a regional peacekeeping exercise known as PIRAP-JABIRU. From “9-20 May, over 100 participants from 22 Asia-Pacific militaries, police forces, and non-governmental organizations are involved in PIRAP JABIRU 2016 in Bangsaen, Thailand.”

Interestingly, while hosted by Thailand’s murderous military, “Australian Defense College Commander Major General Simone Wilkie [stated that] during the exercise participants are tested by realistic scenario-based problems that reflect contemporary United Nations operations, including how to protect vulnerable populations such as women and children, understanding peacekeepers’ rights and obligations under international and domestic law and how to maintain logistics support in austere environments.” He added that modern armies are involved in “a broad array of objectives including promoting good governance and human rights, providing humanitarian assistance and assisting in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.”

It seems unlikely that the Thai military could adopt such principles and methods in its domestic activities. It prefers to rely on nepotism, corruption, torture and repression.

Whether the US, Australia and other Western countries recognize their own hypocrisy in dealing with an illegal junta and a murderous military is unknown.

Update: A Thai Embassy announcement in Washington DC points to training and equipment being provided to the Thai police. It states: “The New York City Police Department is set to give the Bangkok Metropolitan Police the CompStat computer program that helped ‘New York’s Finest’ dramatically reduce crime in the Big Apple since the 1990s, making Thailand the first country in Asia to receive this technology.”

We don’t want to suggest that Thailand’s police, known for botching investigations and using beatings and torture to extract “confessions” shouldn’t get more high-tech, but this report had us scratching our collective head. The NYPD has used CompStat since 1994, and it tracks crime by locality and was expanded as a tool for managament and accountability. The Thai police, however, say it was the “Erawan Shrine bomb attack in September 2015 spurred the Bangkok police to request CompStat.” Apparently because that event showed a lack of coordination. At the same time, it seems unlikely that CompStat is useful for such crimes.

According to critics, CompStat was introduced alongside major management and operational reforms, something the police bosses in Thailand have long resisted. We imagine that the Thai police will make use of the package for tracking political opponents and for making lese majeste crackdowns more effective. Given that crime and corruption is a feature of the Thai police, we wonder how CompStat will track that.


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