Social Move calls for the release of all political prisoners

20 11 2010

On 19 November 2010, Social Move/สมัชชาสังคมก้าวหน้า issued a press release entitled ‘No Justice, No Path to Peace: Release Political Prisoners Being Held Without Cause’/‘ไม่มีความยุติธรรม ไม่มีทางสงบสุขต้องปล่อยนักโทษการเมืองทุกคนโดยไม่มีเงื่อนไข.’

The entire press release can be read in Thai here on Prachatai.

PPT reproduces the demands of Social Move/สมัชชาสังคมก้าวหน้า below, and offers a rough translation.

1. ปล่อยนักโทษการเมืองเสื้อแดงทุกคนทันทีโดยไม่มีเงื่อนไข

1. Release all red-shirt political prisoners being held without cause.

2. ยกเลิกกฎหมายเผด็จการทุกฉบับ ได้แก่ พ.ร.ก. ฉุกเฉินฯ พ.ร.บ.ความมั่นคงฯ กฎอัยการศึก กฎหมายคอมพิวเตอร์ฯ และกฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ

2. Repeal all dictatorial laws, including the Emergency Decree, Internal Security Act, Martial Law, Computer Crimes Act, and Lese Majeste Law.

3. หยุดการปิดกั้นสื่อทุกชนิด เพื่อให้ประชาชนมีเสรีภาพในการแสดงออก

3. Stop shutting down the media, so that the people will have freedom of expression.

4. ทหารที่สั่งฆ่าประชาชนต้องถูกปลดออกจากตำแหน่ง และนำมาลงโทษตามกระบวนการยุติธรรม

4. Soldiers who ordered the killing of people should be dismissed from their office and prosecuted within the judicial system.

5. รัฐบาลนี้ต้องลาออกเพื่อแสดงความรับผิดชอบที่ก่อให้เกิดการเสียชีวิตและบาดเจ็บสูญหายในเหตุการณ์เมษายนและพฤษภาคม 2553

5. The government must resign in order to demonstrate that they accept responsibility for causing the injuries and deaths during April and May 2010.






Abhisit and red shirt photo opportunities

11 11 2010

In an earlier post, PPT had details of a Social Move call for the end to the state of emergency. Now Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva seems to be responding, but in his usual vainglorious manner.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “emergency decree still in force in Bangkok and adjacent provinces could be lifted before January because the overall situation has improved…”. January would mean that Bangkok will have been under emergency rule for some 10 months, having been enacted on 7 April 2010. But lifting the decree will always depend on the army and other “security agencies.”

In the same story, the Post refers to a performance that ranks high for arrogance, the prime minister sought a photo opportunity with two “UDD suspects who were freed on bail, with money placed by the Justice Ministry, to meet him at parliament.” PPT finds this kind of odd. The two had been “detained on a charge of violating the emergency decree.”

PPT suggests that readers look also at a Prachatai account of what is happening on these cases before relying on the Post and the prime minister’s acting voice, Panitan Wattanayagorn. They seem to offer up Abhisit’s political move as some kind of act of reconciliation. Clearly it was a photo opp and not much more. Abhisit might have asked the men “about conditions in the prison and their health,” but he is responsible for them (and many more) having to have spent months in jail.

The Nation adds to the story saying: “Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva summoned two of the three red shirts released on bail yesterday morning … to meet him and expressed concern about their health and lack of employment.” The report adds: “The surprise move came after the three red shirts were freed after spending six months in jail for violation of the emergency decree.  The meeting, which lasted 20 minutes at the Government House also included Justice Minister Peeraphan Saleeratpitak and Suwanna Suwanyuta, director general of the Department of Rights and Liberty Promotion and Protection.”

This is meant to make Abhisit look like a big shot who cares about these red shirts who have languished in prison. In fact, Abhisit and his regime are the ones responsible for their predicament. As PPT has shown several times, many of these detainees have been arrested on fabricated charges and have been kept in very poor conditions. Being the “big shot who cares” reinforces some of the worst elements of Thailand’s hierarchical power structure.

On a slightly different point, does any reader know more about the Orwellian-sounding Department of Rights and Liberty Promotion and Protection? We’ve heard of an agency with this name in Japan, but we do not recall this for Thailand. Let us know.





The emergency decree and the failure of the NHRC

11 11 2010

The Nation’s Pravit Rojanaphruk reports on yet another call for the emergency decree to be lifted. This coincides with Amnesty International’s apparently cordial meeting with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, and his apparent lecturing of AI on the decree’s usefulness. The rights group Social Move has a different view.

It says the “military should withdraw armed soldiers from BTS Skytrain and MRT subway stations and lift immediately the emergency decree which has been imposed for nearly six months. The prolonged decree and soldiers’ presence is militarising Thai society and creating fear among those who oppose the government…”.

NHRC: Independent?

Social Move states that they are making this call due to the failure of “most local human rights groups and the National Human Rights Commission” to condemn the now “nearly seven months after the state of emergency was imposed in Bangkok and beyond.” Social Move “concluded that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had no clear policy on the matter, including the issue of detained [red-shirt] political prisoners. They do not stand alongside a majority of the people. They do not defend the rights of political expression of red shirts and appear to be more concerned about the government’s stability. The same can be said of many local human rights NGOs…”.

National human rights commissioner Niran Pithakwatchara disagreed, saying: “We reiterate that the government should lift the emergency so it would lead to a climate of reconciliation. The CRES should also be dissolved and a government body tasked to look into CRES conduct as to whether it did things right or not…”. But, he also added: “It must be admitted that we have not followed up [on the issue]. We must follow the development of the government.”

So the NHRC has a “crystal clear” position but does nothing. Why? Niran says “it was up to the government to decide whether the decree should be lifted.” What is the point of being “independent” if all the NHRC does is wait for government?








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