As readers know, Thailand’s human rights record was examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group.
The Nation reports that the delegation sent by the military dictatorship “came under severe criticism over the human rights situation in the country with international delegates of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) raising serious concerns in Geneva yesterday.”
The junta’s delegation led by Justice Ministry permanent secretary Chanchao Chaiyanukij who is reported to have “toed the official line in responding to the questions and recommendations made by the UNHRC members, saying the junta needed to ‘limit’ people’s rights and freedom to maintain peace, law and order during the transition period.”
We are not sure he could explain what the “transition” was leading to, although political scientist Prajak Kongkirati has done this at Prachatai.
In a litany of falsehoods, Chanchao “told the UN yesterday that his government would take recommendations from the members in accordance with the capacity to implement. Thailand fully respected human rights but in the context of local circumstances, norms, and culture…”.
Thailand’s military dictatorship has no respect for human rights at all, no matter what the definition.
We know that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha knows nothing of human rights. He has stated his own uneducated and bizarre conception of human rights. The claim of domestic norms and culture is an excuse for nepotism, corruption, murder, torture and abuse. Think of the military’s culture and norms.
Many delegates asked pointed questions: the delegate from Greece called for an end martial law and the use of military courts; US representatives “raised a number of concerns over the role of the military court, the restriction of people’s freedom in the referendum law, the lese majeste law, freedom of expression, and Article 44 of the interim constitution;”and Britain’s delegate asked similar questions and asked “what plan the Thai government [meaning the junta] had to end the prosecution of civilians by the military court and their detention in military facilities.”
The junta has no plans for anything other than continued repression.
Remarkably, the junta sent a “judge from the military court … [as] a part of the Thai delegation” to concoct and fabricate the junta’s case. This military thug “explained” the “need” to prosecute in a military court “civilians who commit serious crimes with war weapons, disobey the junta’s orders or are accused of lese majeste.”
This is horse manure as all these “crimes” were conducted under civilian courts in the past.
The “judge” also “explained” that “defendants in the military court have their right to appoint lawyers and seek bail.”
As everyone knows, this is not always the case, with people being abducted by the military and held incommunicado and often without access to lawyers.
When the so-called judge claims that defendants “have all the rights for a fair trail in accordance with international standards,” any reasonable person knows this is a lie. As the junta stated early after it illegally seized power, military courts are used to plow under rights and to get quick convictions.
The Foreign Ministry also sent along a toady official to “explain” that the “lese majeste law was badly needed for Thailand to protect the monarchy.”
She is not reported as explaining why the monarchy, always claimed to be “loved” and “revered,” needs “protection” that has harsher sentencing than in most murder cases. We guess it is the same tired and ridiculous claims about the monarchy being “special” for Thailand and unlike monarchies almost everywhere except in other hard authoritarian and absolutist regimes.
Her “explanation” for Article 44, which allows The Dictator to do anything that takes his fancy, seemed to rely on some cockeyed notion that the use of such draconian, unjust and capricious law is “not new in Thai political history…”. That bizarre claim was followed with yet another junta lie: “it was exercised with caution.” It has been used for all kinds of things, with “caution” thrown to the wind.
Thais should be embarrassed by this pathetic performance by a regime that lacks sense, credibility and seems unable to even think about its international performance.
Puea Thai Party member and former minister Chaturon Chaisaeng agreed, stating that “the UPR report on Thailand was the most embarrassing one, as it placed the country in the international spotlight for human rights violations.” He says “Thailand not only failed to pass the test at the UN session, the country also became a laughing stock…”. He’s right.
Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch “slammed Thailand’s responses in the UPR regarding the use of a military court to try civilian cases. He said it was false and insincere.” He’s right too.
He called out one lie: “The [junta’s] representatives said that only a small number of civilians had been tried before the military court. Sunai said, in fact, at least 1,000 civilians had been tried by the military court…”.
As well as “lies,” it was “hypocrisy” that was a common description of the military junta’s approach to the UN.