Further updated: Progressive Democracy Group and red shirts write to Ban Ki-moon

26 10 2010

These letters were addressed to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General United Nations. There are several others posted at Thai E-News, including one from former detainee from Australia, Conor David Purcell:

Dear Sir,

We are writing to you on behalf of the Thai people who need a true democracy, equal treatment, and human rights the same as people in democratic countries across the world. As the United Nations Secretary General, we would appreciate your concern and actions about the undemocratic conditions and violations of human rights in Thailand by Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government since his Democrat Party came to power in January 2009 through underhanded tactics with the support of the military.

In its one year and more in power, the Abhisit government has corrupted and distorted democratic principles, abused human rights, sacrificed freedom of speech and expression of the people, and destroyed the rule of law. The violent crackdown against red shirt demonstrators by the Ahbisit government during April-May 2010 led to the tragedy of more than 91 deaths, thousands of injured, and hundreds of disappeared and imprisoned. In addition, many community radio stations and political web sites were closed down, and more innocents opposed to the current government have been charged and jailed without fair treatment.

The Abhisit government not only refuses to take responsibility for the massacre of red shirts but also uses the Thai media under its complete control to bombard Thai society with distorted information, suggesting without any evidence that the 91 deaths and thousands of injured might have been caused by terrorists who mingled with the red shirt protestors. The Abhisit government used the word “terrorists” to deceive society and justify the use of heavy weapons and live ammunition to kill and maim hundreds of peaceful demonstrators.

Hundreds of people have been imprisoned across the country since May 2010 without fair treatment or the possibility of release on bail. In contrast, the crimes against humanity done by the Abhisit government during April-May 2010 have not been transparently and honestly investigated by acceptable neutral agencies. Furthermore, the state emergency decree that suppresses the basic rights of the people is still enforced in some provinces including Bangkok.

To stop the human rights violations and violence by the Abhisit government, we would like to ask the United Nations, as the representative of the world’s nations, for immediate action to help save innocent lives and bring back basic rights to the Thai people.

With help from the United Nations, we believe that political prisoners could be freed or given bail. The state emergency decree should be lifted across Thailand; freedom of speech, press, and expression should be returned to all Thai people; and fair treatment with respect to human rights should be taken seriously by the current Thai government.

Sincerely,

Progressive Democracy Group

From the red shirts:

October 26, 2010

Your Excellency:

Unfortunately despite noble efforts by organizations under the United Nations, violence and violations of human rights, including the Gwangju massacre during May 18-27, 1980, have repeatedly occurred and are still happening within member countries of the United Nations. Appreciating the need for peace and justice upheld by the United Nations, we, the undersigned Thai citizens, wish to inform and remind your Excellency of the recent brutal violations of human rights that have happened in Thailand during April 2009 and April-May, 2010, which were discussed widely around the globe and condemned officially by the European Council immediately after the tragedy. We, consequently, would like to urge you to look into the cases and demand appropriate actions by the concerned organizations under the United Nations and your authority.

It is clearly evident that the political turmoil and subsequent violent, brutal, and unlawful acts by the royal Thai government against politically active, democratic, and peaceful Thai citizens have occurred after the undemocratic 2006 coup d’état. Video clips of the Royal Thai Army shooting and killing hundreds of armless protestors and foreign news reporters and injuring thousands of innocent Thais mushroomed the Internet, and many Thais even voiced their concerns before the massacres of April 2009 and April/May 2010 to the world and to the United Nations, but sadly to virtually no avail. Acts of violation of the human rights in Thailand are clearly evident, highly suppressive, and totally unacceptable in today’s world standards or any standard. These acts include unconstitutionally imprisoning and murdering red-shirted protestors, using governmental resources to threaten politically active citizens, discriminating against red-shirted citizens when the tyrannical Abhisit administration allocated budgets to provinces in Thailand, and shamelessly corrupting and stealing from the people’s tax monies. The list goes on, and we believe that your Excellency must have been informed somewhat. Should you need specific details regarding the oppressive and brutally violent acts by the Thai government and the Royal Thai Army, you can easily contact red-shirted core leaders, who have still been jailed while the murderous PM and official in charge are, , ironically, living freely and trying to project themselves as legitimate, lawful, and innocent agents. You can also ask Thai citizens on streets, check Youtube videos, and contact the opposition leaders to learn about what the royal Thai government has never reported.

In short, we believe that acts of human rights violation have taken place in Thailand, and we would like you to look into the aforementioned cases by allowing the voices of red-shirted citizens, opposition leaders, victims of the oppressive acts, and all concerned agencies to be heard against the fabricated reports by the tyrannical government under the administration of Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, the PM that never once won a majority votes in the history of elections in Thailand. Thailand was once a model for democracy and emerging economy for developing countries; therefore, if Thailand is allowed to be as doomed as it is now, the UN is not properly doing its duties. We are urging you to take the necessary actions to stop the oppression and all kinds of human rights violations in Thailand before a civil war takes place in this “Land of Smiles” as many have feared.

This letter is also embedded in a YouTube clip.

Update 1: Reports on Ban’s visit are here and here. Ban came up with the not unexpected comment that sorting out Thailand’s political crisis is a task for Thais. However, his visit clearly has political overtones, and he cannot ignore the fact that the Abhisit regime used the visit to try and strengthen its legitimacy. That said, the red shirts also made some useful political capital from it.

Update 2: Thai E-News has this video of the red shirt demonstration at the U.N. Building during Ban’s visit:

http://www.youtube.com/v/3cjko6xCicg?version=3





Deported red shirt remains defiant

8 09 2010

The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald report on Conor David Purcell’s return to Australia following his deportation from Thailand. He said his first priority was to seek medical support for his stress-related health problems that developed from his incarceration.

He also stated that he hoped to return to Thailand to continue the “fight for democracy.” In the SMH he says of his speeches from the red shirt stage: “I had to speak out against what I’d seen … what I saw on April 10 was absolutely horrendous.” Purcell added (in the Australian) that he believed these speeches “made him a target…” for the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. In one speech he “criticised the Thai army and called for them to lay down their guns.” In Sydney he said: “You have to make a stand against these people…”.

From The Australian

He repeated claims that “while in jail he was severely beaten by a group of prisoners he believes were acting on the direction of guards. He said the beating left him unable to walk and other Thai prisoners helped him recover by giving him massages.” He said he was “denied medical attention for almost two weeks afterwards.”

The SMH adds that Purcell was “critical of the support he had received from the Australian government while in prison.” He stated that he planned to find out more about the failures of the Australian embassy.

Purcell claims that he  did not plead guilty to the charges against him, but “accepted political charges…”.

Purcell was met by a group of about 15 supporters from Thai Red Australia, carrying banners that called him a hero and welcomed him home. “Welcome home Conor Purcell,” read one poster. And, on the reverse, referring to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva: “Abhisit is a tyrant. We don’t want murderer PM. We don’t want mafia ruler government in Thailand.”





Australian red shirt deported

7 09 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian Conor David Purcell, jailed on charges of against the emergency decree following the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s violent May crackdown on red shirt protests, has finally been deported. He had been kept in an immigration detention center following his conviction because he didn’t have the funds to pay his own deportation.

It is reported that a “Thai surgeon [Pongsak Phusitsakul] who encouraged him to address the protesters in Bangkok, leading to his arrest during the city’s unrest earlier this year, stumped up for Purcell’s air fare.” Purcell had spent 2 weeks in the detention center after 45 days in jail before he finally agreed to plead guilty.

Pongsak says he “met Mr Purcell on April 10 after the Australian was hit by a rubber bullet fired by Thai troops during attempts to disperse the protesters.” Pongsak says he asked Purcell to go on the red shirt stage and “tell the truth to the people…”. The report says that Purcell “accused the Thai Army of using excessive force in efforts to end the protests.”

During his detention, and before he agreed to a guilty plea, Purcell claimed to have been beaten by other prisoners. He was repeatedly refused bail. Apparently, the Australian embassy in Bangkok did little more than provide consular services.

Purcell’s guilty plea was not one that he seemed willingly to provide, so his return to Australia may produce some interesting media commentary.





Updated: Plead guilty or rot in jail

20 08 2010

PPT posted back on 8 July 2010 on the case of British man Jeff Savage. He was arrested and charged for the political crime of violating the emergency decree while taking part in the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) or red shirt protests. He was freed after his jail term was halved because he confessed to the political crime and promptly deported.

However, the Australian Conor David Purcell, who was similarly charged, decided to enter a not guilty plea and was outspoken at the same time. PPT commented that Purcell could expect considerable “punishment,” because he refused to plead guilty. It is now almost de facto “law” in Thailand that in political crimes, including lese majeste, a guilty plea is the demanded response or jail time “awaiting trial” drags on forever. And, when sentenced, the sentences are harsher for a failure to plead guilty.

Purcell appears to have “seen the light.” While not scheduled for a court appearance until September, his case suddenly appeared again. The Bangkok Post reports that the “Pathumwan District Court on Friday ordered the release of Australian Conor David Purcell after he confessed to violating the emergency decree, taking into account time already served behind bars.” The Post doesn’t note any irony in its report that says: “On the same day [that Savage was sentenced in July], Purcell  denied the charges, saying he wanted to fight the case. He changed his mind and decided to plead guilty today, and was sentenced to jail and ordered released.”

This is an important reminder that the Thai justice system is highly politicized and unjust. Purcell (and high-profile political prisoners) can expect to rot in horrid jails until they “admit” their “crimes” or somehow recant. Suddenly becoming a king-loving royalist is one strategy. It is a despicable system of double standards and as one journalist stated not that long ago, “Nobody receives justice in Thailand.”

Update: Soon after PPT posted the information above, we became aware of a more detailed account of Purcell’s court appearance. It is worth reading in full. Noteworthy, however, is the judge in the case actually making PPT’s point from above. Apparently, Purcell “[i]nitially, during Friday’s hearing, … continued to protest his innocence.” He stated: “The arrest was illegal, I was never shown an (arrest) warrant. How can I trust the judicial system?” The story continues: “Purcell said he had been beaten in jail and had been refused medical assistance by a judge during an earlier bail application hearing.”

Judge Somchart Lertkhitworakul delivered his verdict saying: “I can guarantee justice in this case…. If you do accept the charges then I can proceed to judgment.”Apparently Purcell was also “encouraged by his lawyers to ‘admit to the crime’ as ‘it will be useful to your interests’.” His lawyer apparently opined: “If you admit (to the charge) you will receive a reduced sentence…”. It was then, in the face of this concerted appeal and threat that “Purcell, referring to family members and friends who had supported him, then agreed to change his plea.”

Purcell’s lawyer, Siriporn Muangsrinun, “said Purcell would be deported, but she believed the verdict was a good outcome” She added: “This is a good result for everyone who is concerned for him…”. That might be true, but it is also a result that points to deep flaws in the Thai justice system.





Further updated: Two political prisoners going to trial

17 06 2010

Update 1: AP reports that both men were “charged Thursday with inciting violence and committing other crimes that could lead to two years in prison. Both men denied the charges, which allege they violated an emergency decree imposed during the two-month protests and still in effect. Street clashes between so-called Red-Shirt protesters and government forces killed almost 90 people and injured over 1,400 before they were ended last month.”

Purcell

Interestingly, it is reported that Savage “screamed abusive comments about Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as he was led past reporters, calling him ‘a murderer’ and insulting Abhisit’s wife.”

Update 2: There is an earlier and short report at the BBC on Savage.

****

AFP has a report on the Australian man, Conor David Purcell, 30, from Perth, charged with violating Thailand’s emergency laws by addressing anti-government rallies in May. While some have questioned his role, the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has charged him under a political law. He is to face a court this week.

Originally detained over breaches of immigration laws, he was then “charged under the emergency laws that include restrictions on assembly and controls over the media.” He is accused of addressing crowds at the red shirt rally at Rajaprasong. Purcell faces up to two years jail if he is found guilty.

Savage

A 49-year old Briton, Jeff Savage, has also been charged with breaches of the emergency laws that came in force on May 7. Neither has appeared in the lists of detainees released by the police or the government. It is not known when the Briton will be put before one of the regime’s politicized courts.

Purcell has allegedly been bashed while in prison: “In late May he was bashed in jail by up to seven prison trustees, fellow inmates trusted by the prison guards, with bamboo sticks that left welts and bruising to his back and shoulders. He suffered body spasms and he was placed in a maximum security cell with up to 30 other inmates.”

Such bashings are not uncommon in Thai prisons, carried out at the behest of the authorities. Political prisoners are always at risk in Thai jails.








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