Further updated: Nitirat academic attacked

29 02 2012

Leading Nitirat academic Worachet Pakeerut was set upon, punched and injured by two unidentified men in a parking lot at Thammasat University. The Nation reports that Worachet was talking to a fellow academic from Mahidol University “when two men sneaked from behind to deliver several punches in his face.” He commented: “I was hit and everything happened so suddenly that I could not even remember the profile of my attackers…”.

A Nation photo

Metropolitan Police are said to be investigating but “had not drawn conclusion on the motive behind the attack.” PPT thinks the motive is as clear as day: Worachet was attacked as a royalist warning to him and Nitirat to shut up. The kind of intimidatory tactic is one that has been commonly used in the past, most usually by dark elements within the security forces.

Interestingly, editor of Fa Diaw Kan magazine Thanapol Eawsakul witnessed the attack and saw “two attackers fleeing by a motorcycle.” That motorcycle was also seen by activist Sombat Boonngamanong who “tweeted that the motorcycle license plate was Mo Tho 684.” That should make it somewhat easier for police, assuming that they actually want to track down the aggressors.

This kind of attack is reminiscent of the dark days of authoritarian regimes, usually associated with the military when engaged in regime-maintaining violence, and is very worrying as there have been earlier instances of hate speech targeting Nitirat and Worachet. The nature of this kind of political attack is exemplified in The Nation’s own report, which is misleadingly stated:

Worachet is the core leader of Nitirat academic group spearheading a campaign to amend the lese majeste law. He is seen as a controversial figure due to his outspokenness in opposing the coup. His political views are often favouring the pro-Thaksin [Shinawatra] camp.

In fact, in earlier days, Worachet was a leading anti-Thaksin critic writing chapters in books attacking Thaksin edited by Chirmsak Pinthong. He was also anti-coup in 2006. That he has now suggested discussions of reforms of the draconian and internationally condemned lese majeste law, sees some – and apparently The Nation reporter and editors – as somehow simply “pro-Thaksin.” This kind of loose and/or politicized reporting makes the media culpable in political violence.

Update 1: Readers should look at Prachatai’s stories following this event. The first story refers to the despicable comments of ASTV/Manager readers. In fact, none of this is surprising and is pretty much par for the course. The second story is a statement from Human Rights Lawyers Association, Union for Civil Liberty, Human Rights and Development Foundation, Campaign Committee for Human Rights, Environmental Litigation for the Wants, Cross-Cultural Foundation, Center for Protection and Recovery of Local Community Rights, Community Resources Center deploring the attack. They state that they are “gravely concerned that the reason behind the attack could stem from the lecturer’s taking the lead as a core member of the Nitirat Group.” They add that the incident will “spur a climate of fear in society.” Of course, that is exactly what the attack is meant to do. The groups condemn the attack.

Update 2: Both the Bangkok Post and The Nation report that the two men who attacked Worachet have surrendered to the police. The “twin brothers told investigators that they are members of the anti-Nitirat group that opposes any move to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law.” Meanwhile, in the Bangkok Post it is reported that: “Members of the Nitirat law group at Thammasat University say they will continue with their activities to disseminate their opinions, in the spirit of academic principle, despite the attack…”. The Thammasat University rector “condemned the attackers…”.





Torture is a crime

27 06 2011

Statement on International Day Against Torture

For Immediate Release on June 26, 2011

“Human Rights Organizations urge Thai Government to prevent and eliminate the use of torture by law enforcement officials in Thailand by implementing its obligation under UN Convention Against Torture to criminalize torture as a crime, to take effective measure for witness protection and remedy the victims, and most importantly to develop independent investigation mechanism to end impunity”

Section 32 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2550 recognized the right to liberty, the right to life and prohibition of torture or brutal treatment or punishment by a cruel or inhumane means. In addition, Thailand is a Party to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) which came into force for Thailand since November 1, 2007 which makes any action by the authorities by which severe pain or suffering is intentionally inflicted on a person with the purpose to force for confession or information, to intimidate or to punish the person, or for any other reason based on discrimination of any kind is “torture”. As the state party, Thailand has the obligation to prevent and punish act of torture. However, Thailand has not implemented its obligation to any measures, whether legislative, executive or judicial in order to prevent acts of torture, to protect witnesses, to remedy victims of torture, and most of all, measure to punish offenders.

Torture and cruel treatment is still exists in Thailand and still being used by law enforcement officers, whether under an emergency situation in the southern border provinces, emergency situations arising from political turmoil, or under enforcement of law in normal time. Moreover, tortured victim, who has filed complaint alleged that he was tortured by police to obtain confessions in the case of a gun robbery in Pileng Military Camp in Narathiwat Province in 2004, was pressed charge by the officers on charges of false police report after the Anti- Corruption Commission concluded that there was not enough evidence on torture complaint. The said victim was also a client and witness in cases of the enforced disappeared lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit who defended him in the gun robbery case.

As we mark International Day against Torture, today Human rights organizations as listed below urge the Thai government to accelerate the fulfillment of its obligations to prevent torture by taking legislative measures to enact, amend of laws and to take effective measure to

1. Criminalize offense of torture as a specific offense and determine appropriate penalty for such offense because “torture by state officials” is not yet a criminal offence under Thai law.

2. Develop independent and impartial mechanism for the investigation into alleged act of torture. At present, the perpetrators are not brought to justice and impunity continues because the offenders are often associated with investigation body in ways that undermine the independence and impartiality of the investigation.

3. Take effective measure for witness protection in accordance with safety standards. Conduct training and increase the number of officials. Allocate appropriate funding to make the witness protection system truly effective.

4. Develop effective measure to provide remedy to victims of torture, both physically and psychologically especially for psychological rehabilitation. Also to develop forensic psychiatry equipped with medical knowledge and expertise to monitor the post psychological trauma effect on the victim such as stress and anxiety after a bad experience.

5. Take effective measure to guarantee easy access, prompt, impartial and fair investigation of allegation of torture. Also to ensure protection from backlash countersue by alleged offender against complainant as this rights to petition is guarantee by the Constitution section. 62 that a person shall have the right to follow up, and to request for examination of, the performance of duties of a person holding political position, State agency and State officials. And a person who provides information related to the performance of duties of a person holding political position, State agency and State officials to the organisation examining the misuse of State power or State agency shall be protected. But in practice, torture survivor is not protected and still being countersue by alleged offender while state mechanism fails to bring perpetrator to justice.

 

“Torture is a crime.”

With respect to human rights and freedom

 

Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)

Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)

Union for Civil Liberties (UCL)

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Community Resources Centre (CRC)

Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF)

Stateless Watch

Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)

Muslim Attorney Center Foundation (MAC)

Bungaraya Group

 





Human rights groups awaken

21 12 2010

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) posts a statement released by Thailand’s Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), Union of Civil Liberties (UCL), Campaign Committee for Human Rights (CCHR), Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) regrading the extra-judicial killing of “Joke Phaikeaw” by the police. See the Bangkok Post’s story on the murder here.

It is good to see a set of human rights groups getting together on a case of abuse. One would hope that they would also show such solidarity more rigorously in fearlessly attacking all human rights abuses in Thailand, even those with political ramifications. PPT knows that a couple of this group has been prepared to be independent and we hope that this is a beginning of a trend where human rights organizations will be driven by human rights rather than political side-taking.

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward to you the following statement released by Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), Union of Civil Liberties (UCL), Campaign Committee for Human Rights (CCHR), Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) regrading the extra-judicial killing of “Joke Phaikeaw” by the police. Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward to you the following statement released by Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), Union of Civil Liberties (UCL), Campaign Committee for Human Rights (CCHR), Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) regrading the extra-judicial killing of “Joke Phaikeaw” by the police.




Updated: International migrants’ day

18 12 2010

18 December is International Migrants’ Day, and as regular readers of PPT will know, we try to give some coverage to the rights of migrants in Thailand and the abuses they have suffered. Today, the Asian Human Rights Commission has posted a joint statement issued by the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC), the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) and the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC).

The statement begins with this demand: “Thai government should revoke policies that discriminate against and violate the rights of migrant workers…”. It asks that the government “re-open registration for all migrants in Thailand, review its deportation policy, cooperate with the United Nations in examination of violation of migrant rights, repeal discriminatory policies affecting migrants including wage deductions for a deportation fund and formulate long term migration policies in response to actual labour demand. Thailand and others members of ASEAN should also sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families.”

Noting that there are some 2 million migrants living and working in Thailand and that they are central to the Thai economy and the demand for their labor is increasing. While the government recognizes demand it allows a situation where migrants are abused and subject to discrimination, corruption and abuse of power by state officials and exploitation by employers. “Extensive reports on violation of rights of migrants during deportation have been submitted to the RTG but have not been examined carefully and no-one has been prosecuted.”

That’s a familiar and sad story to anyone who follows Thai politics. Read the full statement and its recommendations.

Update: Readers may be interested in this short report reproduced in total below, coincidentally on International Migrants’ Day, from Bernama:

Thailand plans to import workers from countries which do not share their border with the Kingdom, namely Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh, to solve the problem of unskilled labour shortages in local industries.

According to Thailand News Agency (TNA), Labour Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said that he has ordered parties concerned to study the labour import plan; while his ministry will also resume in 2011 the registration of foreign labourers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia who have worked in Thailand to legalise them–after their work permits expire in February.

Chalermchai revealed that he has also assigned Rajabhat Phranakorn University to conduct a research on overall demand for foreign workers in Thailand to facilitate an effective planning on immigrant labour forces in the future.





Alleged abuse of migrants deported from Thailand

25 10 2010

PPT draws readers’ attention to further information on policies fostered by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government that are detrimental to Burmese migrants and involve their deportation. Readers will remember our earlier posts on Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his statements here and here.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)has this press release from The State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation (SERC), the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) and the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF). In the press release these organizations urge the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to “instruct related UN agencies to urgently investigate allegations of abuse committed against migrants deported from Thailand to Myanmar.” It begins:

THREE rights groups in Thailand have today called on Ban Ki-moon, the United Nation’s (UN) Secretary General, to intervene to prevent further abuse of Myanmar migrants deported from Thailand. The UN Secretary General will visit Bangkok on Tuesday as a guest of the Royal Thai Government (RTG).

The State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation (SERC), the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) and the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) call upon the UN Secretary General to instruct related UN agencies to urgently investigate allegations of abuse committed against migrants deported from Thailand to Myanmar. The UN Secretary General should also press the RTG to ensure increased respect for migrant’s human rights and to allow UN experts to visit Thailand to assist in development of future migration policies.

SERC, TLSC and HRDF also today called upon the RTG, in advance of the UN Secretary General’s visit, to ensure transparent investigations into all migrant deportation abuse claims and punish those involved. The RTG should also urgently reconsider its migration policies more generally to ensure respect for migrant’s human rights.

Human rights violations against migrants deported from Thailand to Myanmar continue to be reported. Al-Jazeera reported how migrants deported to Myanmar are being sent to camps controlled by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) where they must pay for their release before being smuggled or trafficked back to Thailand. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) revealed migrants are being sold to traffickers during deportations in waters between Southern Thailand and Kawthuang (Myanmar) and then returned to Thailand. Rights groups have demanded investigations into these allegations since July 2010 but no response has been evident and the abuses continue.

Read the report as it is revealing of state policies fostered under Foreign Minister Kasit.





Kanit panel named and criticized

8 07 2010

The Bangkok Post reports on the so-called independent commission on the violence associated by the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime with the red-shirt protest headed by Kanit na Nakhon. Its membership has been endorsed by the cabinet.

The reception has been, at best, mixed. The Post refers to “scepticism it could ever establish the truth buried in the political crisis…”. The newspaper states that that the 8 members of the panel “comprise two human rights activists, one senior journalist, two doctors, two academics and permanent secretary of justice Kittipong Kittiyaraks.” One of the academics is said to be Kittipong’s “former student Jutarat Uer-amnuay from Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of political science…”.

The two “human rights activists” are Somchai Homla-or, president of the Human Rights and Development Foundation, and Phairoj Pholphet, secretary-general of the Union for Civil Liberty…”. Both are likely to be controversial. Somchai’s reputation is now tainted by his support of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and, PPT would say, his association with a discredited local Amnesty International chapter – see this recent story in The Nation.

Somchai said “he had faith in Mr Kanit’s integrity and hoped to work towards national reconciliation…”. He added that “we will try to avoid duplicating the work of other law enforcers and try to fill the gaps.” Filling gaps hardly seems an appropriate description for an “independent” investigation….

For all his “faith,” apparently Somchai didn’t show up for the panel’s first press conference yesterday. Nor did Prairoj Polphet and law academic Surasak Likkhasitwatanakul. Kanit stated that the no-shows were on board and “had no intention of withdrawing.”

Tyrell Haberkorn, a research fellow from the Australian National University’s School of International, Political and Strategic Studies, observed that “If the commission cannot hold people accountable, its work will be counterproductive.” The Post reveals that “Other critics said the Kanit panel’s function, in light of the unfinished political crisis, would be the whitewashing of certain truths and true reconciliation.”





Now for the migrant workers…

16 06 2010

After dealing with the challenges of “terrorists,” Marxist-Leninists and republicans, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva now has time to turn his attention to another group seen as a threat to royalist Thailand: illegal migrant workers.

Authoritarianism combined with racist xenophobia is a heady mix on the road to Thai Fascism, but Abhisit remains determined not to let any obstacle stop the descent into this state. According to the Irrawaddy, he signed “an order on June 2 calling for the establishment of a ‘special center to suppress, arrest and prosecute’ alien workers who illegally entered Thailand and are working underground.”

According to the report, the “Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), a labor rights group, the ‘Order of the Prime Minister’s Office No. 125/2553’ will impact up to 1.4 million migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia and Laos who are currently working in Thailand illegally.”

Once a government – and especially one that was born of a coup – tastes suppression and repression, it is like a narcotic drug. That government just wants more power to repress. Abhisit proves this. He’s become a proponent of all kinds of illiberal politics.





Migration, Deportation, Censorship

12 01 2010

As readers know, PPT began almost a year ago (our one-year anniversary is approaching) as a blog focused expressly on tracking and publicizing information about lesè majesté cases in Thailand.  We were concerned that these cases did not receive enough coverage in the mainstream media.  As the Abhisit government came into increasing conflict with various dissident groups in Thailand, our coverage has broadened to wide-ranging censorship, human rights, and red-yellow conflicts, to name a few topics.  While part of our logic for doing so has been to publicize stories not receiving enough attention, we have also done so in order to highlight the growing repression — across the board — in Thailand.

A few weeks ago, we posted on the forced repatriation of the Lao Hmong asylum seekers in northeastern Thailand. Today, we have learned of another series of possible deportations, this time of migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia, and Laos. The Asian Human Rights Commission has forwarded an article by Andy Hall, director of Migrant Justice Programme (MJP) at the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF). Hall explains the National Verification (NV) of the Thai government, which is the “ policy to formalise the status of some of the approximately 2 million migrants from Burma, Cambodian and Laos currently working in Thailand. These workers contribute an estimated 5-6% of Thailand’s GDP and make up around 5% of the nation’s workforce. For these workers who work in Thailand’s most dangerous, dirty and demeaning jobs, NV is apparently required because they left their countries without permission and entered Thailand “illegally”. They are currently nationality-less labourers.”

Hall writes the entire NV process, which is expensive, time-consuming, and laborious. Noting that the Thai government has threatened to deport workers who do not register, he asks: “Mass deportation is surely not possible, right? But if mass deportation did go ahead, would the government ensure it was “real” deportation and not the usual arrest and costly release processes we have all seen for years? Would migrants return to Thailand on the same day as they were deported to Burma and things go on as normal?”

Hall does not answer these questions, but recent events certainly make them apt. PPT urges readers to read the whole article: “Managing Migration in 2010: Effective Registration or Effective Deportation?”

Further, we urge you to make the connections between the various links of oppression being created in Thailand. Break the chains!









%d bloggers like this: