Stories worth reading

14 03 2011

There are a bunch of useful stories worth reading, although PPT is having trouble getting to them. So we thought listing them for readers might be a way of ensuring that attention is given to these accounts:

MCOT: “Four more leaders of the red-shirted United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) on Monday surrendered to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) after being on the run for nine months with outstanding arrest warrants for terrorism, and were later granted releases on bail. Suporn Atthawong, Payap Panket, Chinnawat Haboonpad, and Waipoj Arpornrat turned themselves in at DSI headquarters Monday morning but denied all charges and posed Bt600,000 as bail bond for each.” They seem keen to stand in any upcoming election. Jim Taylor has more on this at Prachatai.

MCOT: “Police have withdrawn from the protest site of Thailand’s yellow-clad activist movement, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), on Rajdamnoen Nok Avenue after their deployment there stirred fears among demonstrators that the police might try to disperse their months-long rally.” The story on the massed police attempt to clear PAD toilets is quite funny.

Bangkok Post: “Thailand is well suited to democracy, thanks to its extensive civil society and a high level of social trust, a renowned American professor said…. Robert D Putnam, of Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government, was speaking at a seminar titled “Community and Democracy: Why Civil Society is Essential to Democratic Reform” held at Chulalongkorn University yesterday…. Mr Putnam said democracy required a lot of work, time and strong social capital or civil society. He pointed out how the United States saw rapid political changes during the 1910s due to intense social capital interactions and at other times on the ups and downs of social capital, including the Great Depression, the country’s longest period of high unemployment and poverty.”

PPT is not aware that Professor Putnam knows anything at all about Thailand. We think he confuses social capital and political activism and largely ignores political power and ideology as a driving forces behind civil society organizations. Bringing in the “experts” is a long tradition when Thailand faces crisis and doesn’t often lead far. Recall the junta government bringing in a bunch of experts to “discuss” sufficiency economy.

Asia Provocateur by Andrew Spooner has a story on a death threat received by Jitra Kotchadej, who was involved in a protest against Abhisit Vejjajiva a few days ago.

AHRC has a Forwarded Press Release on “Angkhana Neelaphaijit, the chairperson of the Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF), released a statement on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) during the presentation of the joint report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention during meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. In the statement, the JPF and the ICJ called for the Thai government accept the request to visit by the Working Groups and for the Working Groups to work with the Thai government to end arbitrary detention and to bring to light the fate of people who have been disappeared.”


30 08 2010

The Nation has a brief report on the Abhisit Vejjajiva government saying it will ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Forced Disappearance to “raise the standard of human rights protection.”

As prominent human rights activist Angkana Neelaphaijit (chairperson of the Working Group on Justice for Peace) points out, “Thailand does not have a good record on forced disappearance. She pointed out that there are reportedly over 90 cases of forced disappearance in the past two decades…. There were no progress on these cases.” Indeed, as the story continues, “Angkana’s husband, Somchai, went missing six years ago after forced abduction by the police. Up until now, the fate of her husband is still unknown even though he was presumed death in March 2004.”

Somchai’s case was one of those nominated by Abhisit as being on his agenda for solving. After a couple of weeks of media publicity, it slipped on the government’s radar. PPT wonders if the cases of the missing red shirts following the government’s crackdown on 19 May will become additions to the list of Thailand’s political disappeared. The government seems unconcerned about these leaders, whom they said were in Cambodia. That suggests that the government and military know more than they are saying.

Human rights and the south

9 12 2009

Angkhana Neelapaijit, the Chairperson of the Working Group on Justice for Peace (WGJP), has written to the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) about the appointment of a subcommittee on the South, and it should be read in full (or here: จดหมายเปิดผนึกเรื่องการแต่งตั้งอนุกรรมการภาคใต้ของคณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ). This letter is dated 27 November 2009, and we thank a reader for drawing PPT’s attention to it.

Angkhana has been appointed to the Subcommittee on the South (see the list below). She writes that the subcommittee’s membership is confined to “human rights advocates including those working on rights and liberty in life and body and justice.” However, she says that none “have had experience working with issues concerning children, women or minorities. In addition, a half of the members come from the same organization, or organizations working closely with each other.”

This weighting means a domination by that group that “might compromise the ability of other committee members to act independently in protection of all citizenry groups in the Southern border provinces…”. More worringly, she suggests that issues of lack impartiality and conflicts of interest already exist. She also raises questions regarding the impartiality of the whole NHRC.

These are serious issues for the south and nationally.

NHRC, Sub-committee on the south

Prof Amara Pongsapich, Chairperson

Mr Niran Pitakwachara, 1st Deputy

Mr Piboon Warahapaiboon, 2nd Deputy

Mr Somchai Homla-or

Mr Muhammadzakee Jaeha

Mr Chockchai Wongthani

Ms Angkhana Neelapaijit

Mr Abdulaziz Tadae-in

Ms Pornpen Kongkachornkiet

Mr Sitthipong Chandarawirot

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