Interesting developments are being reported as the junta’s referendum on the military’s draft charter approaches. As everyone knows, the junta has tried desperately to prevent critical discussion of the undemocratic charter.
Over the past few days we have posted on attempts to stifle red shirts, even when they claim to be supporting the referendum as a process.
Khaosod reports that the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein “called on Thailand’s military government to respect the electorate’s right to freely deliberate the proposed constitution before voting whether to adopt it as the law of the land.”
This is probably horrifying for the junta and “evidence” of a conspiracy against it.
The UN High Commissioner also “raised the ‘paradoxical’ suppression of debate on a matter going to public vote in less than two months…”. For the junta, it is not paradoxical. It is the norm. This is not a “real” referendum and people are not permitted to debate, anything political.
The Commissioner declares that “[t]he people of Thailand have a right to discuss – and to criticize – decisions about their country, and free, fair and dynamic public debate on the draft constitution is vital if the country is to return to sustainable democracy…”.
For the junta, the High Commissioner simply displays a failure to understand its kind of “democracy,” which involves nothing that is democratic, apart from the moniker.
For us, the Commissioner’s use of the junta’s terminology – “sustainable democracy” – is a step too far, for the High Commissioner must understand that the junta’s referendum is anti-democratic. It has to be rejected in speeches as much as in the referendum. (We continue to harp on the stupidity of a referendum on a large document with a simple Yes/No response.)
The “Jordanian prince” – we imagine that has some significance in royalist Thailand – also expressed concern “about the increasing use of military courts…”.
The “architect of the referendum,” the anti-election Election Commissioner and junta clown, Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, decided to “challenge” the High Commissioner, demanding that he be”specific about allegations Thai citizens’ rights have been curtailed in deliberating the charter draft.”
Yes, we think Somchai is serious in this statement. He has shown himself to be so dull and so silly that we simply have to believe he is accurately reported.
Silly Somchai stated: “Initially, His Excellency should clearly specify what freedom do [Thai] people not have in relation to this referendum?” PPT has umpteen examples, Prachatai has plenty and the rest of the media regularly report the junta’s threats and intimidation.
Silly Somchai decided to dig his clown hole deeper still, declaring: “As the organizer [the EC], we think people have freedom and are not being curtailed in any way … adding however that using language deemed ‘lewd’ or encouraging people to vote one way or the other has been criminalized by the military government.” He’s lying. The junta has repressed and has also been campaigning for the charter.
We are encouraged to see that Puea Thai Party politicians have decided to speak out despite the repression (maybe because of it). Prachatai reports that “[m]ore than 10 Pheu Thai politicians have simultaneously denounced [on Facebook] the junta’s charter draft for its undemocratic origin and content, adding that they will turn it down in the August referendum.” Later reports had the count up to 17.
Variously, they stated that the military’s draft charter is undemocratic, lacks guarantees of rights and freedom, will bring long-term political suffering if passed, because it is difficult to amend, had no popular participation, “enhances the dictatorship’s power”
Weerakarn Musikapong [Veera Musigapong], “a former key leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, aka the red shirts movement,” posted this: “I’m confused whether it is a constitution or an amnesty bill for the junta. I cherish rule of law so I reject this charter…”.
The Bangkok Post reports that a junta friend and former member of the 2006 junta General Somjet Boonthanom, also a former senator and a “former chairman of the National Legislative Assembly’s committee vetting the referendum bill demanded the politicians be charged under the referendum law. (Somjet has reaped the rewards that fall to loyalist generals.)
The anti-democrat general declared that the politicians “appeared to be manipulative and intended to incite unrest during the referendum…”. Obviously rubbish and concocted, but like Somchai, Somjet is a junta puppet, a committed anti-democratic and rather dim.
As the referendum gets closer, it will become increasingly clear whether the junta remains committed to the charter and referendum or whether this is a diversion from its major goal of staying in control of politics.