A few days ago, PPT posted an Asian Human Rights Commission Statement on the junta’s destruction of law and rule of law through its capricious use of laws, announcements, orders and decrees used as laws in the interests of the junta and always against those it thinks are its political opponents.
A dire example of the junta’s misuse of the very notion of “law” is seen in deputy junta boss General Prawit Wongsuwan’s recent statement that “freedom of expression” is unnecessary for Thailand in the junta’s so-called transitional period. (It isn’t at all clear what the “transition” actually is, although we have the impression that it is to deeper military control of politics.)
Following this statement of the junta’s repressive raison d’état the detestable general went on to “explain” that the “arrest of the anti-junta activists was not a human rights violation.”
In fact, the activists were simply campaigning for a No vote in the August referendum on the military’s draft charter. Their arrest by the junta’s thugs in uniform is described by Prawit as a purely legal issue rather than political repression.
Prawit said “the arrest was not considered a human rights violation since the activists breached the law first, adding that if the junta had not arrested them, there was no point of having the law…”. He went on: “I didn’t arrest students, I arrested the lawbreakers. There’s the law and I do everything in accordance to the law…”.
Time and again, the regime that conducted an illegal coup, threw out the country’s basic law and absolved itself of any wrongdoing has used “law” as its excuse for political repression. Of course, this is “normal” for all military dictatorships and especially those that seek to embed their control and rule.
Reflecting on this dangerous state of affairs, a Bangkok Post article presents “an abridged version of a report, ‘The Disguised Militarisation in the Name of Law and the Judicial Process’, by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.” The report presents “a grim picture of Thailand’s justice system since the military took power in May 2014.”
The article refers to the junta “justify[ing] its grip on power by running the systematic militarisation of law and the judicial process against its critics, political dissidents and ordinary citizens…”. It points to the fact that the military dictatorship “has created its own versions of law and manipulated the entire justice process, depriving civilians of their rights to fair trial and violating their rights to freedoms of expression.”
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights “has called for the regime to revoke the use of military courts for civilian cases and end the use of Section 44 of the interim charter which legitimises any orders of the NCPO leader as ‘lawful, constitutional and final’.”
This militarization of law is described as being “disguised in the name of numerous orders and the interim constitution imposed by the junta have adjusted and distorted the principles of the legal state Thailand once belonged to.”
It points out that the military junta “has used the militarised law and orders to justify its actions and re-create a public image of Thailand as a legal state.”
Read the Post’s story and weep for Thailand.