Official human rights nonsense

17 08 2021

Thanks to a reader for pointing out a recent op-ed by academic Mark S. Cogan at the Southeast Asia Globe.

“Thailand’s human rights narrative runs contrary to reality, even at the UN” has the following sub-header:

Despite cases of lèse-majesté piling up and pro-democracy protesters facing serious charges like sedition, Thailand’s third time through the Universal Periodic Review later this year will most likely be as inconsequential as previous UN human rights inspections.

Thailand is due to have its human rights record examined in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in n November. This is Thailand’s third UPR. Cogan states that:

Back in February, in preparation for this upcoming human rights review, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai gave remarks during the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council, noting that Thailand would “recommit to our common core values in the promotion and protection of human rights”.

He adds that Don’s perspective has little to do with human rights as practiced in the country. In fact:

[p]ublic statements on Thailand’s human rights contributions often boast about the kingdom’s accomplishments…. But these … often mask Thailand’s true record on the ground – a record stained by draconian measures to cripple individual freedom of expression, curb press freedom, and silence regime critics.

Don’s “remarks” were meant “to ensure that the narrative on human rights was crystal clear to the UN – there were no human rights challenges in Thailand…”.

He and other Thai diplomats have almost Pavlovian retorts to any challenges, pointing to the “perceived failure to understand what it means to be Thai, [a] … lack of familiarity with the situation on the ground, or the more nationalistic refrain that highlights Thailand’s unique status as a country in Southeast Asia that has not been colonised.”

Cogan recounts a meeting between Don and three UN officials after the 2014 coup where he went to great lengths “trying to ensure that the trio also understood Thai culture and tradition, the Foreign Minister paused and remarked: “Actually, in summary, Thailand has one of the best human rights records in all of Southeast Asia.” He then “corrected himself and said: ‘No, no, no, Thailand has the best human rights record in Asia’.”

Not even Don believes such nonsense.

Lese majeste is of especial concern. Cogan notes that:

… for its second cycle UPR in 2016, the Thai government compared its lèse majesté law (Article 112) as comparable to libel law for commoners, adding that it is “not aimed at curbing people’s rights to freedom of expression or academic freedom” and it was implemented in “accordance with due legal process and those convicted are entitled to receive royal pardon”.

It is troubling to PPT that several human rights protectors and the media in Thailand now regularly refer to lese majeste as “royal defamation,” which seems to accept the authoritarians’ narrative. We say, call it by its name.

Lese majeste has seen hundreds locked up, including for Article 112 convictions that don’t even fit the law. As Cogan reminds us, “… Prawet Praphanukul, a human rights lawyer, [was]… locked up in prison after being held at the 11th Army Circle base in Bangkok…”. He spent 16 months in prison on lese majeste and sedition charges and when he was finally sentenced, the lese majeste charge was simply not mentioned, probably because, at that time, the erratic king was trying to minimize political damage.

Famously, Prawet bravely rejected the royalist courts. When he appeared in court in 2017 he stunned the court by stating: “Thai courts do not have the legitimacy to try the case. Therefore, I declare that I do not accept the judicial process in the case.” Prawet added that he would not participate in the case nor grant authority to any lawyer to represent him.

Clipped from Prachatai

More recently, Cogan reports, various UN experts were deeply alarmed over the harsh sentence of Anchan Preelerd, a 60-year old former Thai civil servant. She was given a 43-year sentence. In fact, she was sentenced to a mammoth 87 years in prison, with the sentence reduced because she finally agreed to plead guilty because she had already spent three years in prison pending her trial.

Yet the puppet-like Ministry of Foreign Affairs is straight-faced when it declares the lese majeste law is not “aimed at curbing people’s rights to freedom of expression nor the exercise of academic freedom or debate about the monarchy as an institution.” It “went on to suggest once again that the law exists to “protect the dignity of royal families in a similar way a libel law does for any Thai citizen.” That’s buffalo manure, and every single Thai knows this.

Cogan concludes: “Thailand’s third time through the Universal Periodic Review, because of its predetermined narrative about its own human rights record, will most likely be as inconsequential as its previous UPR.” Sadly, he’s right. In the years since the 2014 coup, Thailand’s human rights situation has deteriorated into a dark age.





fidh appeal

14 08 2021
The following is an appeal by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture:

THA 002 / 0821 / OBS 083
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Thailand
August 12, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention and ongoing judicial harassment of eight pro-democracy activists, namely: Anon Nampa, prominent human rights lawyer; Parit ChiwarakNutchanon PairojSirichai Natueng, Thammasat University student activists; Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Ratsadon Mutelu member; Panupong Chadnok, Eastern Youth for Democracy member; Thatchapong Kaedam, Free Youth member; and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa, Dao Din member….

On August 9, 2021, police officers arrested Anon Nampa after he surrendered himself to the Pathumwan police station in Bangkok after learning that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Mr. Anon was charged with violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”) and the Emergency Decree for his participation in a peaceful protest on August 3, 2021, in Central Bangkok. During the protest, Mr. Anon made a speech in which he reiterated the pro-democracy movement’s call for the reform of the Thai monarchy.

On August 10, 2021, police denied Anon Nampa’s bail request arguing that he would present a high risk of re-offending, if released. After spending two nights in custody at the Pathumwan police station, on August 11, 2021, the Bangkok South Criminal Court approved the police’s request detention for Mr. Anon and denied him bail. The court argued Mr. Anon was accused of a serious offence, had breached previous bail conditions, and was likely to re-offend, if released. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Anon was being detained at Bangkok’s Central Special Treatment Centre, where he was undergoing COVID-19 testing and a 14-day quarantine. The Observatory recalls that it is not the first time that Mr. Anon faces charges under Article 112 and, if convicted in all the “lèse-majesté” cases pending against him, he could be sentenced to a total of 195 years in jail. Earlier this year, Mr. Anon was detained for 113 days on charges under Article 112. Similarly, Messrs. Parit and Panupong were detained for 92 and 85 days, respectively, on lèse-majesté charges. Mr. Parit was conditionally released on May 11, 2021, and Messrs. Anon and Panupong on June 1, 2021.

The Observatory notes with concern that between November 24, 2020 and August 9, 2021, 116 individuals, including Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, and many other human rights defenders, were charged under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”).

On August 8, 2021, Parit Chiwarak, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, and Phromsorn Weerathamjaree were arrested in front of the Police Headquarters in Bangkok in connection with their participation in a peaceful protest on August 2, 2021, in front of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters in Pathumthani Province. Protesters had gathered to demand the release of 32 fellow activists who had been arrested and detained in connection with another protest at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau in Bangkok earlier the same day. Later on August 8, 2021, Messrs. Parit, Nutchanon, Sirichai, and Phromsorn were taken into custody to the Khlong 5 police station and then to the the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters in Pathumthani Province.

On August 9, 2021, Panupong Chadnok and Thatchapong Kaedam were arrested after they reported themselves at the Khlong 5 police station in Pathumthani Province in relation to the August 2, 2021 protest. All six pro-democracy activists were charged with violating Article 215 of the Criminal Code (“leading an illegal assembly of more than 10 people” ), the Emergency Decree, and the Communicable Diseases Act. Three other protesters who accompanied Messrs.Panupong and Thatchapong at the Khlong 5 police station were also arrested and detained.

On August 9, 2021, the Thanyaburi Provincial Court approved the temporary detention request for Parit Chiwarak, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Panupong Chadnok, and Thatchapong Kaeda and denied them bail on the grounds that they acted without considering the society’s safety, peace, and order during the COVID-19 pandemic and that they would likely commit the same offenses if released. The six activists were then taken to the Rangsit Temporary Prison in Pathumthani Province, where they remained detained at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal for a quarantine period of 21 days after which they would be transferred to the Thanyaburi Prison.

On August 9, 2021, police arrested Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa after he surrendered himself at the Thung Song Hong police station in Bangkok. Mr. Jatuphat was charged with violating the Emergency Decree and Article 215 of the Criminal Code, in connection with a protest held in front of the Thung Song Hong police station on August 3, 2021. Mr. Jatuphat, who was detained at Bangkok’s Central Special Treatment Centre at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, had no access to a lawyer until the afternoon of August 10, 2021.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of the eight above-mentioned human rights defenders, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities and the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.

The Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the eight human rights defenders and to put an end to the judicial harassment against them and all other human rights defenders in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all human rights defenders in Thailand, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok,Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Thatchapong Kaedam, and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to be merely aimed at punishing them for their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Thatchapong Kaedam, Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa, and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in the country;

iv. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly, as enshrined in international human right law, and particularly in Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Addresses:

· Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email: spmwebsite@thaigov.go.th
· Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email: minister@mfa.go.th
· Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email: complainingcenter@moj.go.th
· Gen Apirut Kongsompong, Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Email: webadmin@rta.mi.th

· Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Email: info@royalthaipolice.go.th
· Mr. Prakairat Tanteerawong, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: Prakairatana@nhrc.or.th/ Prakairatanao@yahoo.com
· H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respective countries.





Virus doublespeak

20 12 2020

We at PPT are not medically trained or epidemiologists but as laypersons interested in human rights, we were stunned by a report at Thai Enquirer.

The outbreak in Samut Sakhon is among workers employed in the fisheries industry who live in crowded and unsanitary dormitories. It is reported:

The government said that they would isolate the dormitories where the migrant workers were …[living] but would provide healthcare and other necessities. The government said Thais living in the dormitories would be evacuated and moved to local hospitals.

Photos show razor wire being put up around the dormitories and the seafood market.

Government Spokesman Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin said this was not about “blaming” migrants – it is – and that human rights were being maintained – they aren’t.

Taweesin said Singapore had shown:

how to isolate and quarantine a foreign work force. Singapore saw a mass break out in foreign workers dormitory with workers living in close proximity to one another. The city-state managed to isolate and quarantine the work force but faced some criticisms from rights groups.

And how did things go for migrant workers in Singapore? A Reuters report explains that:

Nearly half of Singapore’s migrant workers residing in dormitories have had COVID-19, according to the government, indicating the virus spread much more widely among those living in these accommodations than the official case tally shows.

The rate in the dormitories for migrant workers was 47%. The rate for those outside the dormitories was just 0.25%.

If that’s the model, human rights count for nothing. Singapore should be condemned, and so should Thailand if it takes this discriminatory route.





End Harassment of Suchanee Cloitre

29 10 2020

PPT had earlier posted on the legal harassment of journalist Suchanee Cloitre. This is just one more example of how the rich and powerful benefit from Thailand’s warped judicial system. We reproduce the joint letter by human rights groups:

Thailand: End Harassment of Suchanee Cloitre
Baseless criminal defamation cases undercut labor rights protections

Suchanee (clipped from LePetitJournal.com)

Joint Letter

26 October 2020

We, the undersigned twelve human rights organizations, call on Thailand’s government to immediately end the harassment through the judicial system of journalist Suchanee Cloitre and to take concrete steps to protect journalists and human rights defenders from frivolous criminal proceedings. On 27 October, the Lopburi Court of Appeal will deliver the verdict in an appeal by Suchanee, who was convicted last year in a case initiated by Thammakaset Company Limited. The case underscores the need to repeal criminal defamation provisions in Thailand’s Criminal Code, which have frequently been used by businesses and powerful individuals to silence their critics.

The charges against Suchanee stem from a tweet concerning alleged labor rights violations at a chicken farm operated by Thammakaset in Lopburi Province. According to a complaint filed by workers with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, the company failed to pay minimum wage or overtime, did not provide adequate rest time and holidays, and confiscated identity documents, among other abuses. In 2016, the Lopburi Department of Labor Protection and Welfare ordered Thammakaset to pay THB 1.7 million in compensation to the workers, a penalty that was later upheld by Thailand’s Supreme Court.

At the time of her tweet in 2017, Suchanee was a journalist for Voice TV and reported on the allegations. In March 2019, Thammakaset filed a criminal complaint against Suchanee under sections 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code, concerning defamation and libel, respectively. In December 2019, the Lopburi Provincial Court convicted Suchanee under both provisions and sentenced her to non-probational two years’ imprisonment.

Suchanee is only one of many individuals targeted by Thammakaset. Since 2016, Thammakaset has initiated civil and criminal cases against 22 individuals and Voice TV for speaking out about the company’s alleged labor right violations. Among the accused are former Thammakaset employees, labor rights activists, an academic, women human rights defenders, and a former commissioner from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand.

In March 2020, four United Nations Special Rapporteurs and the chairs of two UN Working Groups wrote to the Thai government to express concern about the “continued judicial harassment by Thammakaset Co. Ltd (Thammakaset), of human rights defenders, migrant workers, journalists and academics for denouncing exploitative working conditions of migrant workers”.

The Thai government’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, adopted in 2019, set combatting “strategic lawsuits against public participation” (SLAPP) and preventing prosecution of human rights defenders as major priorities for the government. However, the government has failed to act decisively to achieve this objective. Earlier this month, the Thai government further undermined its commitment to ensuring a rights-respecting business environment by awarding a human rights prize to Mitr Phol Co. Ltd, a sugar company facing a class action lawsuit over alleged human rights abuses in Cambodia.

In December 2018, Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly amended the Criminal Procedure Code to include two provisions, sections 161/1 and 165/2, that could be used to dismiss criminal cases against those acting in the public interest. This reform was cited in the National Action Plan as evidence of the government’s attempt to prevent SLAPP lawsuits. However, to date, judges have refused to consistently apply these provisions in spurious criminal cases filed by Thammakaset and other private actors against journalists and human rights defenders.

While the proactive application by judges of sections 161/1 and 165/2 to dismiss abusive cases against human rights defenders and others acting in the public interest would be a positive step, more far-reaching reforms are necessary.

We call on the Thai government to decriminalize defamation, including by repealing or amending sections 326-333 of the Criminal Code and section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act. There is growing international consensus in favor of decriminalizing defamation, as recognized in the UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No. 34, which emphasized that custodial sentences are never an appropriate penalty for defamation.

We also call on the government to take immediate steps to end frivolous criminal proceedings against journalists, human rights defenders, and whistleblowers, including those accused by Thammakaset.

Signed:

Amnesty International
ARTICLE 19
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and development (FORUM-ASIA)
Community Resource Center (CRC)
Civil Rights Defenders
Fortify Rights
Human Rights Lawyers Association
Human Rights Watch
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
World Organisation against Torture (OMCT)





Wanchalerm’s enforced disappearance

3 07 2020

Wanchalearm

Keeping the spotlight on the unexplained “disappearance” of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, the BBC has a long feature article detailing the events and background to the likely state abduction of the political activist, then living in exile in Cambodia.

As the report observes, he is “the ninth exiled critic of Thailand’s military and monarchy to become a victim of enforced disappearance in recent years.”

We feel it is worth reading in full. There’s not a lot that is new for those who have been following the case, but it is useful to have it brought together.

The report emphasizes that those who abducted Wanchalearm were armed and threatening to those who tried to intervene. The abductors used a black SUV, often a sign of state involvement.

His satirical political commentary “made fun continuously of the military junta. He made fun of Gen Prayuth [Chan-ocha] … he made fun of other generals.”According to human rights observer Sunai Phasuk, Wanchalearm’s social media interventions were to “show that a commoner can make fun of those in power. That seemed to be the way of getting even with the oppressors.”

It seems the oppressors came to hate him and to fear his wit and popularity in Thailand, especially in the northeast. They had been after him since the 2014 military coup and issued an “arrest warrant for Wanchalearm based on allegations he violated the Computer-Related Crime Act” in June 2018, with the authorities vowing to bring him back to Thailand. Now he’s gone.

Jakrapob

Jakrapob Penkair, also a political exile, says the junta/post-junta message is clear:

Let’s kill these folks. These are outsiders, these are people who are different from us and they should be killed in order to bring Thailand back to normalcy….

The reaction in Thailand to Wanchalearm’s disappearance has varied by political position, with regime supporters, royalists and yellow shirts cheering.

However, it has also “sparked protests in Bangkok, with demonstrators accusing the Thai government of involvement, while demanding the Cambodian government investigate the case fully.”

The enforced disappearance also caused the “hashtag ‘#abolish112’ was also written or retweeted more than 450,000 times.” The undertone is that the king is involved in these disappearances:

Many activists believe this abduction is linked to the palace, but the strict laws against any negative comment on the monarchy make this a dangerous link to explore or investigate.

Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, described as “a prominent activist who served seven years in jail on charges of lese majeste” explains that:

The objective of kidnapping is to kill him and to create the atmosphere of fear in Thailand and other countries where [Thai] people are active in criticising the monarchy….

Somyot is reported to be “in little doubt as to who was behind the disappearance”:

The government knows very well about this kidnap and disappearance. I can insist that the government are the ones behind this violation….

The regime says it knows nothing. No one believes it.





Stop the state’s anti-opposition campaigns

4 03 2020

If readers haven’t seen it, a few days ago, 33 organizations and 23 individuals issued a joint statement that began:

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, urge the Thai government to investigate, and immediately halt, the alleged state-supported online attacks against human rights defenders, political activists, social critics, and opposition politicians.

They are responding to revelations made in the no-confidence debate in parliament.

The organizations are:

  1. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
  2. Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)
  3. Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC)
  4. Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)
  5. Center for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights (CPCR)
  6. Duayjai Group, Pattani Province
  7. Patani Human Rights Organization Network (HAP)
  8. JASAD Group – Network of Affected Populations under of Special Laws, the Southern most provinces Thailand
  9. ENLAWTHAI Foundation (EnLAW)
  10. Union Civil for Liberty (UCL)
  11. Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLAW)
  12. Southern Human Rights Lawyers Network (SHRLN)
  13. Freedom Mobile Journalist (Freedom MoJo, FMJ)
  14. People Network of Satun Provincial Development Plan Watch
  15. Green South Foundation
  16. Human Rights and Environment Association
  17. Learning Center on Natural Way for Community
  18. Songkhla Consumer Association
  19. Khao-Khu-Haa Community Rights Protection Association
  20. Spirit of Thepa Stop Coal-Fired Power Plant Network
  21. Permatamas – Persekutuan rakyat mempertahankan hak masyarakat dan sumber daya alam untuk kedamaian
  22. Centre for ​Ecological Awareness Building
  23. NGO Coordinating Committee on Development of North (NGO-COD North)
  24. NGO Coordinating Committee on Development of Lower North (NGO-COD Lower North)
  25. NGO Coordinating Committee on Development of Northeast (NGO-COD Northeast)
  26. NGO Coordinating Committee on Development of South (NGO-COD South)
  27. NGO Coordinating Committee on Development of Thailand (NGO-COD Thailand)
  28. Land Watch Thai
  29. The Eastern Economic Corridor Watch Group (EEC Watch Group)
  30. Student Group for Human Rights of Khonkaen University (Daodin Group)
  31. Campaign for Public Policy on Mineral Resources (PPM)
  32. Ecology and Culture Study Group
  33. People Network of Mineral Ownership




AI on human rights abuses

30 01 2020

A few days ago we criticized The Economist Intelligence Unit and its 2019 Democracy Index. We thought it ridiculously positive in its assessment of Thailand as a “flawed democracy.”

Writing of a Thailand that is nothing like The EIU’s Thailand, Amnesty International has issued its Human Rights in Asia-Pacific: Review of 2019 and begins its Thailand section:

Activists, academics, opposition politicians, and human rights defenders were arrested, detained and prosecuted for peacefully expressing their views on the government and monarchy. The government maintained systematic and arbitrary restrictions on human rights, including by passing a new cybersecurity law. Refugees and asylum-seekers were vulnerable to arrest, detention, deportation, and rendition.

That sounds far more realistic approach to Thailand than that by the EIU. And, in reading the AI report, the matter-of-fact expression of political repression and abuse of human rights makes the EIU ranking seem entirely nonsensical.

AI’s Thailand report is just three pages, so worth reading in full.





Rap Against Dictatorship celebrated

28 05 2019

It is fantastic to read that the anti-dictatorship rapper group Rap Against Dictatorship win the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, awarded by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation. The prize recognizes those who “engage in creative dissent, exhibiting courage and creativity to challenge injustice and live in truth.”

According to one report, “[t]wo members of RAD – Liberate P and Jacoboi – are flying to Norway to attend the awards ceremony, which will be held at the Oslo Freedom Forum.”





With 3 updates: Human rights violations and the military junta

7 01 2019

There’s very wide media coverage of a young woman from Saudi Arabia “being held at a Bangkok airport fears she will be killed if she is repatriated by Thai immigration officials…”. Thai officials “have confirmed the 18-year-old has been denied entry to the country.” An interesting aspect of the story is that:

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun said she was stopped by Saudi and Kuwaiti officials when she arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport and her travel document was forcibly taken from her, a claim backed by Human Rights Watch.

Again, it is the Deputy Dictator’s man, Big Joke Surachate Hakparn who is “managing” more human rights abuse and who confirms that she will be forcefully repatriate. He has also played an important and negative role in the detention of Bahrain refugee.

Under the military junta, there have been several reports of foreign police and/or military officials actively “working” in Thailand. Most reports have involved Chinese police or provincial “authorities.” Dissidents have disappeared in Thailand and reappeared in China and those seeking refugee status have been forcibly deported.

Update 1: The Bangkok Post reports that Rahaf barricaded herself in her room and avoided the first effort to deport her. No doubt the huge international media attention and the interest of several governments has also caused the blunt dolts associated with the junta and Immigration to think a bit more, if “think is the correct term for what they do:

Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch was quoted by media as saying Rahaf had refused to leave her hotel room at the Miracle Transit Hotel, which was surrounded by police who were refusing to let anyone inside.

UN officials were present, he reportedly said. However, ABC reporter Sophie McNeill tweeted that representatives of the United Nations Human Rights Committee were being refused access.

Update 2: A reader sent us a link to an interesting Australian media report on these events, saying that if Rahaf’s account is accurate, “Thai authorities have questions to answer” about how they are doing backroom deals with Saudi and Bahraini officials and with regimes with terrible human rights records.

Update 3: Intense international media attention seems to have caused the Thai authorities to do that “rethinking.” The Bangkok Post reports that Rahaf has been “temporarily admitted to Thailand for evaluation by the UN refugee agency…. Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn told reporters Monday night that 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun would be granted entry under the protection of the office of the UN High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR).” Immigration police allowed the UNHCR to meet Rahaf and accompany her from the airport.





Abuse of power over many decades

15 12 2018

A couple of days ago, The Nation reported that the  National Human Rights Commission Chair What Tingsamitr, recalling that Thailand had been one of the first nations to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, continues to have a serious human rights  problem.

While What mentioned several groups “responsible” for for human rights abuses, this was a remarkable effort to deflect attention from the main perpetrators. In fact, What had to admit that “state officials commit 90 per cent of human rights violations…”.

What appeared to want to whitewash this basic fact, babbling about “misunderstandings” and “different definitions” of human rights.

However, “Cross Cultural Foundation director Pornpen Khongkachonkiet argued that the root of the problem did not lie in misunderstandings, but came from the abuse of power and an absence of the rule of law.”

Pornpen got to the point that What preferred to avoid:

It is clear that most of the rights violations in Thailand occur in the same pattern – officials violating the rights of people. We have witnessed that again and again. When someone opposes the government and their policies, state officials turn on these people….

She cited several examples of oppression under the current military junta, noting that “rights violations against those who oppose the authorities are far more severe in cases related to the stability of the state and the monarchy.”

Pornpen observed that “key problems include a lack of proper investigation, court litigation and punishment against officers who commit these crimes.” That is, impunity, adding that violations and impunity are abetted by “a partisan culture within the justice system, which allows so many offending officers to walk free and even keep their job in official agencies.”

This situation has existed for decades. However, under the junta, Pornpen concluded, “the problem of human rights violation by the state … is worse than ever…”.








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