NHRC as farce

6 05 2019

In all of the palaver about the coronation, PPT neglected a related and far more important story that suggests human rights, long in decline are now at rock bottom under the military and the coronated would-be tyrant.

Human Rights Watch has issued a statement condemning Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission for its “groundless inquiry of an outspoken commissioner” Angkhana Neelapaijit.

Angkhana is about the only commissioner who has considered her role has something to do with protecting human rights. The rest of them are toadies and slitherers appointed by the military dictatorship. They do nothing, which amounts to supporting the military junta and its abuses.

The NHRC has been a travesty under the junta, barely recognized by serious international agencies.

According to HRW, “[o]n April 30, 2019, the rights commission began a disciplinary inquiry of Angkhana, accusing her of political partiality.”

Why? Because junta puppet Tuang Attachai and junta posterior polisher Surawat Sangkharuek complained that Angkhana had observed legal proceedings and documented rights violations against opposition politicians – Future Forward – and critics of the junta.

Yes, she was doing her job and that act has marked her for the wrath of the junta and their puppets.

HRW observes:

Thailand’s rights commission is sinking to a new low by seeking to punish Angkhana for doing her job by exposing rights abuses and demanding accountability…. The commission’s leadership has repeatedly failed to hold the military government to its human rights obligations, but it appears now to be doing the junta’s dirty work.

Of course it is. That’s why the junta appointed its men to the NHRC. (In any case, the agency has been neutered for years and has been useless on human rights while supporting massacres, torture and other abuses since it was headed by the hopeless Amara Pongsapich.

HRW adds that the “2017 NHRCT Act stripped away the agency’s independence and transformed it into a de facto government mouthpiece, contrary to the UN Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles).”

It concludes: “The commission should drop its inquiry of Angkhana and ensure she can work in a secure environment without fear of reprisals.”

We at PPT fear that this move is just another warning for the future. A dark Thailand is going to get far worse for anyone who favors human dignity and rights.





Military responsible for torture and murder in its own ranks

10 11 2018

Under the military dictatorship, the National Human Rights Commission is a neutered agency. Its fall into non-independence can be traced to a series of events over the period of political conflict, but most notably its alliance with the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime in 2009-11 when stewarded by Amara Pongsapich,. Her tenure at the helm of the NHRC was a disaster for human rights in Thailand.

Even so, there are odd rays of light from the NHRC. Most recently, The Nation reports that the military’s “beating of military draftees is a violation of their rights” according to the NHRC. It has “called on the Army to set guidelines for appropriate ways to punish infractions.” It also called for “regulations establishing the level of aid and remedial measures given the families of soldiers injured or killed while being punished.”

That last bit is an admission that the military continues to kill recruits in using enhanced disciplinary measures that have been most recently defended by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and Gen Prawit Wongsuwan. Essentially, they have claimed that recruits who die are simply not tough enough.

The NHRC findings result from “an NHRC probe into two recent cases – the caning and kicking of a soldier at the Royal Thai Army Cavalry Centre in November 2016 and the fatal beating of conscripted Private Yuthinan Boonniam at a military detention facility in Surat Thani in April 2017.”

These cases amount to torture and murder.

The military brass involved is protected by the impunity attached to the men with weapons.





Downgrading the NHRC

28 01 2016

As seems appropriate in the current circumstances of military dictatorship and its disdain for human rights, the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has seen a downgrading of Thailand’s  National Human Rights Commission.

The downgrading is entirely appropriate given the politicization and partisanship shown by the NHRC under the failed “leadership” of Amara Pongsapich. Longtime readers will know that PPT has little time for the National Human Rights Commission or Amara. Her lack of knowledge, lack of courage and pandering to royalist regimes has made the organization a joke. Being responsible for human rights should never be a joke, but Amara made the NHRC a joke, biased and an organization that was useless on human rights but serviceable for royalists, rightists and the military.NHRC

The statement below is posted by the OHCHR Southeast Asia Office:

The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) has been downgraded from full membership to observer status after being reviewed by the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) – an international body that reviews and assesses performances of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) worldwide.

In an October 2014 review, the ICC expressed concerns about the selection process for commissioners, lack of functional immunity and independence, and the failure to address human rights issues in a timely manner especially in the context of military rule in Thailand. The ICC gave the NHRCT 12 months to provide further information on measures taken to address the concerns. Last November, it recommended the downgrade to “B” status after establishing that the recommendations had not been fully implemented.

“Independent NHRIs play a critical role in promoting and protecting human rights” said Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of the OHCHR. “Our office will work with the NHRCT, Government, CSOs and academics to support the implementation of the recommendations. This will strengthen the status and protection mandate of the Commission in line with the Paris Principles.”

The ICC’s Sub Committee on Accreditation (SCA) report of the November 2015 session has now been adopted and the results are public.

http://nhri.ohchr.org/…/…/Status%20Accreditation%20Chart.pdf
http://nhri.ohchr.org/…/ICCAccredita…/Pages/SCA-Reports.aspx

During a meeting with new NHRCT commissioners last December, OHCHR discussed the recommendation of the SCA and we offered our full support to help implement the recommendations.

As Thailand prepares a new Constitution, we urge the drafting committee to use this opportunity to take on board the SCA’s recommendations to ensure the NHRCT regains its “A” status.

BACKGROUND:
A” status institutions demonstrate compliance with the Paris Principles. They can participate fully in the international and regional work and meetings of national institutions, as voting members, and they can hold office in the Bureau of the International Coordinating Committee or any sub-committee the Bureau establishes. They are also able to participate in sessions of the Human Rights Council and take the floor under any agenda item, submit documentation and take up separate seating.

“B” status institutions may participate as observers in the international and regional work and meetings of the national human rights institutions. They cannot vote or hold office with the Bureau or its sub-committees. They are not given NHRIs badges, nor may they take the floor under agenda items and submit documentation to the Human Rights Council.

“C” status institutions have no rights or privileges with the ICC or in the United Nations rights forums. They may, at the invention of the Chair of the Bureau, attend meetings of the ICC.





Updated: The royalist rubble that was human rights

22 07 2015

Readers will know that PPT has little time for the ridiculous National Human Rights Commission. In the period since Amara Pongsapich has been chair of the organization it has been a joke. Being responsible for human rights should never be a joke, but working with the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, Amara made the NHRC a biased and useless organization.

Amara and friends

Amara and friends

The only current commissioner who has made a public effort to do anything remotely serious about human rights abuses, of which there are many, was Niran Pithakwatchara.

So PPT expected the worst when the names of the proposed new commissioners for the NHRC. We were surprised to see one high-profile activist, being Angkhana Neelaphaijit, who has criticized the military at various times. Most of the rest are loyal royalist bureaucrats.

More significant for the future of this useless organization, however, is the nomination of ultra-royalist Boworn Yasintorn. Both Khaosod and Prachatai have stories regarding the nomination of this campaigning yellow shirt.

Boworn, as well as supporting anti-democrats campaigning against elected governments, has formed and led several royalist groups that not only promote the monarchy but actively hunt those they consider anti-monarchists or republicans, seeking to have them jailed. His Thai Facebook page provides a vivid illustration of his ultra-royalism.

At various times, Boworn has been described as a leader of the “multicolors” who were yellow shirts without their royal colors and organized to support the Abhisit regime and oppose red shirts and the electoral prospects of any pro-Thaksin Shinawatra Party. Later, he was reported as forming the “Students Centre of Thailand” that was made up of adults and former student activists rather than current students. Its role was as a “disorganizer” and spoiler organization to undermine the Students Federation of Thailand.

He was behind other groups, mostly royalist vigilantes, including being reported as President of the Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook and Citizens Volunteer For Defence Of Three Institutes Network. Both groups have brought lese majeste complaints against political opponents.

In fact, as we think about it, Boworn is probably the most suitable appointment to this hopeless organization. He is a living, breathing symbol of its destruction.

Human rights in Thailand are a pile of royalist rubble.

Update: Prachatai has another perspective on the demise of the NHRC.

 





Dense dictators I

26 03 2015

The Dictator and his minion dictators, who seem stuck to him like ticks, are rapidly showing themselves to be ignorant, dense, mindless, dull-witted and slow. Unfortunately, these traits, quite common amongst the military brass, where such characteristics are rewarded as evidence of loyalty, are making Thailand a laughing stock.

A recent story at Khaosod shows how doltish this lot are. Most readers will understand that PPT has little time for Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission. While led by Chairperson Amara Pongsapich, the NHRC has shown itself to be politically compromised.

When one of the NHRC commissioners – Niran Pithakwatchara – turned up at the Bangkok Remand Prison to visit with four men who say they were tortured by military officers, he was turned away. One of the suspects claims he was electrocuted on his legs because he refused to confess.

Niran had forensic experts from the Ministry of Justice with him and apparently wanted to consider the torture claims. He was given short shrift and the warders told him to beat it as he didn’t have permission to visit. He responded: “I am here as a director of the NHRC…. I am a state official. I am not an NGO.”

Niran has sometimes sought to do what he thinks is right in his position. However, he seems to have forgotten that Thailand is a military dictatorship that has no conception of much other than power and hierarchy. Human rights simply do not compute for the military brass that hold the country by its collective throat.

The Dictator and his minions are so thick that they do not understand that turning away a commissioner from their own NHRC amounts to a confession of guilt on the torture allegations. Or maybe they simply don’t care that their standard operating procedures include torture, forced disappearance and murder.





Preparing the anti-democrats

16 01 2015

Thailand’s Constitutional Court is a political instrument of a royalist elite that rejects notions like electoral democracy.

Not for the first time, it is demonstrating a detachment from justice and democracy in a report of one of its activities that can only be described as bizarre. Khaosod begins its report by stating:

The Thai court known for ousting a string of democratically elected political parties is now offering a course titled “Good Governance For Democracy.”

PPT won’t go through all of the anti-democratic actions of the Constitutional Court over recent years. Rather we just point to a few earlier accounts of these actions: here, here, here, here and here.

The bastion of anti-democracy trumpets that its “democracy” program is “open to members of the state and private sector who want to improve their ‘conscience and behaviour’…”. Apparently some of the corrupt and politicized judges, who have repeatedly demonstrated not only a disdain for democracy but even for constitutions, are “teaching” the course.

During the opening class it was revealed that the class included 52 “students,” many of them with unblemished track records of opposing democracy, elections and elected politicians.

Some of those named in the report are: disgraced and disgraceful boss of Thailand’s failed National Human Rights Commission Amara Pongsapich, Pornchai Rujiprapa, the Minister of Information, Communication, and Technology who is one of the most vigorous users of the lese majeste law and a proponent of illegal internet surveillance, Vicha Mahakhun, former constitution drafter for the military junta in 2007 and a member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission who not that long ago stated, “We all know elections are evil…”, adding that “[p]eople, especially academics who want to see the Constitution lead to genuine democracy, are naïve…”, and Surachai Liangboonlertchai, a dedicated anti-democrat who The Dictator made deputy chairman of the puppet National Legislative Assembly.

PPT an only imagine that this is an opportunity for these anti-democrats to slap each other on the back, work out future strategies for limiting democracy and ensure ideological oneness.





NHRC defends dictators

14 12 2014

PPT has lost count of the times that National Human Right Commission boss Amara Pongsapich has trashed human rights.

PPT and many others have long pointed to the failure of the NHRC. Its political makeup and position is royalist and militarist, which means that it protects the “rights” of abusers and the “rights” of the state.

The Nation reports that an “award” ceremony organized by the morally bankrupt NHRC was meant to honor several activists with Outstanding Human Rights awards to mark Human Rights Day.Amara

Several groups of students showed up to protest and “to condemn the NHRC’s work and the ongoing martial law.” The NHRC tried to silence them. In addition, a representative of one of the awardees, the Dao Din Group, “tried to speak out of turn onstage had to be dragged away.”

The speaker didn’t “have” to be dragged away, but the NHRC did it to silence a person exercising their rights.

As usual, the head of the NHRC supported the restriction of human rights: Amara said:

Some people may think the martial law violates human rights, but we need to understand that martial law needs to be in place while the country’s reform road map is being implemented…. In such circumstances, you need to find a balance.

We can’t think of a more ridiculous and laughable claim by someone who is meant to have some conception of human rights.

Amara is a disgrace. Her organization has failed and is a laughing stock. Amara takes the money and does the military dictatorship’s bidding.





The human rights farce that is the NHRC

29 09 2013

PPT and many others have long pointed to the failure of the National Human Rights Commission. Its political makeup and position is royalist and miltiarist, which means that it protects the “rights” of abusers and the “rights” of the state.

The head of the NHRC, Amara Pongsapich, not that long ago, stated that the Commission was bored with the criticism it had faced, all of it valid criticism: “We’ve been criticised too much already and do not want to be bothered any more.”

In recent days Phayao Akkahad, mother of volunteer medic Kamolkade, murdered during the 2010 crackdown on red shirts protests ordered by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has met with Amara to request that her Commission “push for a bail release for the Redshirts currently imprisoned for their alleged crimes during the protests.” Khaosod reports that she “pleaded” the bailing of the still detained red shirts.

She had to explain to the hopeless head of the NHRC that bail is a right under the constitution and should have bail in order to be able to prepare for their legal cases when they eventually come to court. She also pointed out that yellow shirts are always granted bail and have their cases conveniently postponed.

Hopeless Amara “promised Ms. Payao that the Commitee [NHRC] would look into the matter, and assuring her that it is within the ability of the NHRC to push for the prisoners′ release.” But she sounded oh so Abhisit when she declared: “the process would not cover all protesters, as those who ‘committed criminal acts’ would not be released.” Of course, yellow shirts charged with criminal acts walk free.

Why the Yingluck Shinawatra government has not bailed these remaining red shirts is a matter of conjecture. She and her cabinet and party deserves as much criticism as the failed NHRC for gutlessness on this matter.

 





NHRC “do not want to be bothered any more”

18 08 2013

That headline is a snippet from a Bangkok Post interview with Amara Pongsapich, head of the disgraceful National Human Rights Commission, responding to criticism that it has been a tool of the previous administration.

This tool has produced a flimsy 88-page report on the events of April and May 2010 that has even caused the Bangkok Post to editorialize that:

… there do appear to be valid reasons for this position [that the NHRC has failed in its public duty]. It is fair to ask whether the NHRC avoided lines of inquiry during its investigation and why, as its critics charge, as an independent body it largely accepted the authority’s version of events.

As a summary of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s position the report is a travesty. For PPT, the NHRC is so bad and so biased that we think the Egyptian military, which has behaved so much like the Thai authorities in April and May 2010, must now be considering the report as a draft for any official account that justifies its own murderous actions.

Amara and friends

Amara and friends

In her interview, Amara continues her hopeless defense of the report claiming that the NHRC didn’t just use the views of authorities, but “authorities and people who were affected by the protests, such as the injured and passers-by.” Perhaps they could also have had witnesses who watched the events on state-controlled television.

Asked about demands for her resignation, Amara is asked if she is worried. She replies: “Not worried, but disturbed and bored.”

PPT is likewise bored by Amara and the NHRC. They seem unwilling and incapable of doing their jobs. If they are “bored” by human rights and criticism, they should resign.





Updated: NHRC humiliated

12 08 2013

PPT has posted quite a lot that has been critical of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). In our last post on it, we noted that, under Yingluck Shinawatra, the NHRC has become irrelevant as it is recognised as a failed agency. We observed that the process of de-fanging the NHRC has been a post-2006 coup phenomenon. This is because the military junta and the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime that gave the NHRC extra powers, used it as a political tool and stacked it with political flunkies, including current head, Amara Pongsapich.

This political tool of the previous regime has taken more than three years to report on the events of April and May 2010. It is no surprise that the report is dead on arrival. “Biased” is the word most used in describing it. That appears to be an overly generous description. The response has been a humiliation for Amara and the NHRC.

At Khaosod: it is reported that the NHRC report “has been blasted by a number of activists and academics … which, the critics say, shifts most of the blames on the side of the protesters rather than the authorities.” The NHRC report was meant to draw lessons that could be guidelines for future governments. Khaosod summarizes the 90-page report:

that the security forces did commit several inappropriate actions – such as dropping teargas from the helicopters onto the crowd below and censoring a number of websites – but the bigger issue is that it was the Redshirts who “violated human rights” by engaging in unlawful protests and provoking the authorities.

The report concludes that the red shirts violated the law and provoked the violence. This made the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s violent crackdown “entirely lawful,” as was the use of the  Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations and the emergency law. Further, the censorship  – closing down – of opposition media was “justified” by the need to eliminate  “inflammatory” speeches by red shirts.

Any casualties are claimed to have resulted from “clashes between the security forces and shadowy armed militants allegedly allied to the protesters…”. This includes the murders at Wat Pathum Wanaram! This clearly contradicts a recent court finding where the military was held responsible for the deaths.

Amara with CRES at an army base during the red shirt uprising in 2010

Amara with CRES at an army base during the red shirt uprising in 2010

Clearly, the NHRC report is a political document that simply ignores evidence (only 184 of the 1,036 witnesses called bothered to turn up for the NHRC) in seeking to protect the military and Abhisit government allies of the NHRC. This is no idle claim, as Amara spent time with CRES, the military and Abhisit and his lot at a military base during the events,

As red shirt Sombat Boonngamanong points out, looking through this travesty is like “reading a report written by CRES itself”, with former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuegsuban the author of many of the bizarre claims made. He calls it Abhisit’s report.

Other critics are cited in this report from Khaosod.

Amara defense of the report has been staggeringly bad. She:

… told Khaosod that she did state very clearly in her report that the Abhisit administration did violate human rights too by announcing the emergency laws which granted the government a sweeping power in 2010…. However, she insisted that the invocation of such powers were “acceptable” because the former government was observing the situation closely and only used the laws when it was clear that the protests were about to turn violent.

Yet she recently criticized Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra′s invocation of Internal Security Act to handle the anti-government protests. She has been unable to criticize previous governments she supported.

In a televised debate, Amara was even worse, and according to Khaosod:

appeared incoherent and even distracted throughout the interview, especially when pressed to explain about contentious issues such as the armed militants and deaths in Wat Pathumwanararm. Many of her replies were simply “I have not looked into that”, or “I am not sure about that”.

In another Khaosod report, Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch, no enemy of the Abhisit government, accused the NHRC of “bias against the Redshirts and downplaying the heavy-handed tactics of the authorities in its report on 2010 political unrests.”

Of course, the incorrigible Democrat Party leadership wants to translate the NHRC report and use it with an international audience to “prove” its position. We assume Abhisit and Suthep will use it to defend themselves on murder charges associated with the events of 2010.

Update: PPT was surprised to see disgraced NHRC chief Amara in the media again today. She has criticized and warned police “to be cautious about its reported plan to examine the chat-application conversation histories of some suspects.” PPT would generally agree and we have said so, in stronger terms than Amara’s. However, her position is damned by the fact of her hopeless bias. It is all very well to criticize censorship and excessive legal snooping, but she seems to apply her “human rights” measure in an exceptionally partisan manner. It seems that cyber-snooping is a problem, but not censorship and murderous repression when this is conducted by her buddies in the (anti-)Democrat Party. To be a leader on human rights, one needs to understand rights, law and impartiality, none of which seem to be in Amara’s back of tricks.