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.”

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