2010 military crackdown report

21 06 2017

In a post at New Mandala that almost slipped by, Kwanravee Wangudom reports that an English-language edition of Truth for Justice, consisting of six selected chapters from the mammoth Thai-language fact-finding report by the People’s Information Centre, is available.

The 300+ page report can be downloaded as a PDF at the PIC website.

The earlier 1300+ page Thai report can also be downloaded.

The Thai version was published in Thai in 2012. The English version was edited by Kwanravee.

PIC’s report “is produced in the hope that it will stimulate a wider global discussion on truth, justice and reconciliation in the deeply-divided Thai society, and perhaps elsewhere.”

It might even cause some rethinking about the murder of citizens by military leaders who now run the dictatorship. It might also cause some rethinking about the manner in which the leaders such as Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban have not be held responsible.

Shooting and killing

1 09 2012

The long-promised People’s Information Centre (PIC) report on the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s 2010 crackdown on red shirts is about to be released. The Nation reports that the PIC “claims there were 94 deaths from all sides.”

Puangthong Pawakapan says that there were “many ‘stray’ deaths, of those who had nothing to do with the protests but were hit by stray bullets.” PPT will wait to see more on this as we can’t help believing that soldiers with scopes and high-powered war weapons are not likely to be shooting like drunks hunting. In fact, “almost 30 per cent of the deaths resulted from bullet wounds on their heads. And if combined with another 22 per cent who died from gunshot wounds on the chest, the figure is above 50 per cent.” That seems pretty clear on shooting to kill particular targets.

PIC also shows that the “death and violence” in May 2010 occurred as soon as the “military operations began from May 14…”. There is mention that military accounts of events make it clear that “the ‘success’ of the military operation [was]… credited to the use of live bullets against protesters.”

On so-called men in black, PIC’s Puangthong says:

there is no clarity as to who they were and even the [Abhisit Vejjajiva] government has failed to trace them. Also, deaths and injuries occurred on the afternoon of April 10, [2010], before the claim by the Abhisit administration and the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) that it occurred in the evening [after clashing with ‘men in black’].

The [Abhisit] government says those who died were terrorists but in the evidence we gathered, we discover no traces of gunpowder on the hands of any of those killed.

On the deployment of Army snipers, Puangthong makes the obvious point: “There are so many video clips on the Internet showing many soldiers using telescopic guns…. This is no shooting for self-defence [as claimed by the Abhisit government].”

On responsibility:

The mastermind, the head of the government, the one who gave orders at the CRES and the person/s who came up with Army strategy. It is the responsibility of those who employed military means to disperse the protest and failed to control it.

Will impunity be overturned and Abhisit, Suthep Thaugsuban and the military brass face courts?

Half-truths, no-truth information and the failure of the NHRC

8 04 2011

The Bangkok Post has a report based on People’s Information Centre reporting that makes interesting reading.

PIC claims there are still 133 red-shirt detainees imprisoned since the April-May 2010 crackdown on red shirt protesters by the military, acting to maintain the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

PIC “asked justice officials to ensure the same treatment for red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) members who remain behind bars and whose bail requests have been repeatedly denied.”

PIC chair Kritaya Archavanitkul of Mahidol University’s prestigious Institute for Population and Social Research, said PIC “has been asking since its launch in July last year that the government release all information on May 2010 crackdown, including the exact numbers of call summonses and arrest warrants issued, the gender and age of the detainees, the number of those being released and those remaining behind bars.” No such information has been made available.

Initially the government claimed some 2,100 arrests (with 700 in the provinces). However, “there were 639 arrest warrants in Ubon Ratchathani alone…”.

Kritaya stated that PIC’s “… main objective is to push for transparency and impunity in the process of acquiring truth…”.

PIC also note that over 9,000 red-shirt media outlets, “including the satellite People’s Channel television and the Prachatai website, were shut down vand had difficulty fully reopening after the emergency decree was lifted…”.

PIC says that there “had been half-truths and no-truth information released by the government” and some are mentioned in the report.

Interestingly, and in a point made by PPT repeatedly at the time, of “the total 92 deaths during the April-May crackdown, there were … a total of nine police and soldiers [killed].” The body count makes clear where the bullets came from.

PIC also confirmed “seven cases of disappearance, but people believed there were more cases. There were also reports about five extra-judicial killings, but the PIC had not received direct information about this matter…”. This refers to events post-crackdown.

PIC is rightly critical of the Truth for Reconciliation and Conciliation in Thailand (TRCT) commission, which it says “had been ineffective in acquiring information from all sides, especially the military.” It was also critical of the nearly silent and hopeless National Human Rights Commission, which is supposed to have a “mandate and legitimacy to protect the rights of the people.” In fact, as PPT has pointed out, the NHRC is now a sad joke.

Red shirt arrests continue

26 08 2010

Yesterday PPT cited a report by Marwaan Macan-Markar, where he had a comment by the People’s Information Center that made it clear that red shirts were still being hunted down for alleged offenses committed in May 2010.

At about the same time, it was reported that a red shirt leader from Ubon had surrendered to police after being on the run and suffering from the last stages of cancer, requiring treatment he couldn’t access while avoiding the police and military. This was Prayuth Moonsarn, a leader of Ubon People Love Thaksin Group, also known as DJ Num Niranam. He reported in “hospital patient’s garb, reporting to the Ubon Ratchathani police office. He said his condition had worsened since he went on the run and hid in the border forest.”

Further evidence for the continuing hunt for red shirts comes from an AFP report on the arrest of a Briton and his wife at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport as he arrived on a flight from the UAE. The report states that “Keith Wayne Bush, 49, from Manchester was arrested on arson charges … on Wednesday…. His Thai wife, Alisa Bush, 33, was also arrested after she went to the airport to meet him.”

Court-approved arrest warrants issued in Chiang Mai sought the couple “for allegedly trying to burn down a town hall, participating in an illegal rally and inciting unrest…”. They have both denied the charges. This probably means that they go to jail until they agree to plead guilty.

The use of the charge of “participating in an illegal rally” is the most obviously politicized of the charges made here. The simple reason for this judgment is that yellow shirts seem free to rally wherever and whenever they like. The double standard is glaringly obvious.

Close to 470 political prisoners in Thailand

25 08 2010

According to a recent article by Marwaan Macan-Markar, a Thai human rights activist estimates that there are close to 470 political prisoners detained in jails and other sites of detention. These are all detentions which have been made under the Emergency Decree since the violence of April and May 2010. It does not include an unknown number held under lese majeste laws.

Citing information from the recently-formed People’s Information Center/ศูนย์ข้อมูลประชาชนผู้ได้รับผลกระ ทบจากการสลายชุมนุมกรณีเมษายน-พฤษภาคม 2553 , which is keeping track of arbitrary detention, disappearance and other human rights violations, 136 people are being held in the Northeast.  What is concerning, as Marwaan Macan-Markar points out, in conversation with Kwanravee Wangudom, one of the organizers of the People’s Information Center (PIC), is that

The decree, which gives authorities wide arresting powers, still remains in force in Bangkok and six provinces. What worries those like the PIC is that “the arresting has not stopped” for charges ranging from arson, carrying firearms and violating of traffic laws to violating the emergency law. “The government has still not declared the true numbers of those arrested for political activity in all the jails,” Kwanravee told IPS.  “Arrests are still continuing.”

There are a number of other disturbing issues surrounding detention – the PIC’s estimated number of those arrested and detained is much higher than that of the government. If the government is hiding the true number of those arrested, what else may be concealed?

While the Emergency Decree gives authorities wide-ranging powers of arrest and detention, PPT would like to echo a point made by the Asian Human Rights Commission last month: the Emergency Decree is only appropriate while there is an emergency. There is no longer an emergency situation in Thailand, at least not one other than the one being perpetrated by the Thai state’s arbitrary uses of power and repression.

Release political prisoners now

21 08 2010

A few days ago PPT posted on the People’s Information Center demanding better and humane treatment for red shirt protesters. The pro-red shirt Thai e-News has a report on political prisoners, in Thai. In it, they have the image (right) demanding the release of political prisoners now.

The Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s treatment of political prisoners is a disgrace.

Updated: Detained red shirts allegedly tortured, denied rights

20 08 2010

Update: We fixed the link to the Bangkok Post story; it seems the Post shifted the story on its website.

The People’s Information Center is an “alliance of a dozen lawyers, academics and social activists formed a month ago to help red shirts who say they are innocent of any crime…”. PIC has now accused the state of illegal acts against United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship protesters who were arrested following the government’s 19 May crackdown.

According to the Bangkok Post, PIC states that the suspects “should be entitled to fair and adequate medical treatment, and their bail should be based on their economic status…”.

PIC has information on some 164 red shirts have been arrested in the Northeast. Ubon Ratchathani has 60, Udon Thani 54, Mukdahan has 28, Maha Sarakham 12 and Khon Kaen has 10 in detention. However, they have no information on other provinces in the region.

PIC says that reports of “harassment and arrests were continuing to come out even though the emergency decree had been revoked in several provinces.” Astoundingly, there are reports that “suspects in Mukdahan had been tortured to confess to arson. They were allegedly hit with hard sticks, kicked with combat boots and caned.” One suspect, ill with the final stages of cancer has been prevented from receiving adequate medical treatment.

The government has repeatedly denied such claims claiming to abide by human rights principles.

PIC does not provide legal aid to suspects but is “calling on the authorities to respect their basic human rights…”.

New report from People’s Information Center

30 07 2010

PPT has recently read the new report from the People’s Information Center/ ศูนย์ข้อมูลประชาชนผู้ได้รับผลกระ ทบจากการสลายชุมนุมกรณีเมษายน-พฤษภาคม 2553 about the conditions faced by UDD detainees being held under the Emergency Decree around the country. The report has been posted in Thai and English summary on Prachatai.

Detainees are facing significant abrogations of their rights. For example, there are reports of forced confessions and coercion:

“One man said that he had been persuaded by police to confess to involvement in the burning down of the provincial hall in exchange for minimal punishment, but when he confessed, he was charged with committing crimes. Another said that police had told him that if he did not confess to burning down the provincial hall, he would be in jail for decades.  So he did.  Others said they had been physically forced to confess by police.”

PPT urges readers to read the entire reports, and pass on the information. Raise your voices against the oppression of those who are detained unjustly and without necessary, basic protections!