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  1. #1
    Mid
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    State of emergency in Thailand raises human right concerns

    State of emergency in Thailand raises human right concerns
    06 June 2010


    Anti-government protesters, who left the protest area, sit in the compound of a police station.


    BANGKOK : Two weeks after turning himself in to police, political activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk is being held without charge at a Thai army base -- one of hundreds of people jailed over "Red Shirt" street protests.

    Their detention has dismayed human rights campaigners, who say the government's use of a state of emergency across one third of the country, including Bangkok, lacks transparency and violates freedom of expression.

    The Netherlands-based Clean Clothes Campaign, spearheading the call for Somyot's release, says it is "seriously concerned" for the health and safety of the labour- and rights advocate, believed to be in solitary confinement.

    Somyot, the editor of a magazine that supports the "Red Shirts", held a news conference on May 21 at which he called on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign and vowed to continue the opposition movement's struggle.

    A day later, an arrest warrant was issued for him under the emergency rule.

    "There is no charge against him. He is only suspected of causing violence or chaos," Somyot's lawyer Krisdang Nutjaras told AFP.

    The Red Shirts' rally, broken up on May 19 by a military assault on their huge encampment in the heart of Bangkok, sparked outbreaks of violence that left 89 people dead, mostly civilians, and nearly 1,900 injured.

    Critics say the government may be fanning the crisis as it uses sweeping emergency powers to clamp down on and censor the protest movement -- which was calling for immediate elections -- rather than addressing its grievances.

    "We're concerned about the chilling effect on society and on freedom of expression," said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International's Southeast Asia researcher. "We're concerned the political space has been closed down."

    Abhisit declared a state of emergency in the protest-hit capital on April 7, banning public gatherings of more than five people and giving broad powers to the police and military. While the rally has ended, the strict measures remain.

    Determined to weed out the extremists, including those who ended their rally with an onslaught of arson and looting, authorities have jailed more than 300 suspects, the justice ministry told AFP, without elaborating.

    Leading rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has written to Abhisit demanding a full list of names, numbers, locations and conditions of the detainees, who can be held for 30 days without charge under emergency rule.

    "The public has been kept in the dark about the arrests and detention," said Sunai Phasuk, a Thai analyst at HRW. "The arrests may potentially force the Red Shirts underground and radicalise them."

    There are even greater concerns about censorship powers wielded under the emergency decree, which have blocked "Red Shirt" TV channels and community radio stations as well as more than 1,000 websites deemed provocative.

    "We think it's really over-the-top. They're shutting down anything that has a tint of red," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at HRW.

    "We recognise very clearly that there are websites inciting violence and they should have the government's attention, but they are going much further than that," he added.

    A climate is now developing in which people are increasingly afraid to speak or write their mind, according to Supinya Klangnarong, coordinator of the Thai Netizen Network, which campaigns for "cyber freedom".

    A 24-hour hotline has been set up by the government enabling citizens to report suspicious websites.

    "There is the phenomenon of witch-hunting. If I post something against the government I can be bombarded by a lot of government sympathisers," Supinya said.

    Thailand expert Michael Montesano, from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said the hardline approach was partly linked to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is wanted on terrorism charges.

    Thaksin, who himself restricted media and free speech before his ouster in a 2006 coup, has often used new media to address his many Red Shirt followers and is accused by the government of financing the protests and inciting unrest.

    "There is general government panic over, and fear of, Thaksin's influence," Montesano said.

    channelnewsasia.com

  2. #2
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    Ethnic Cleansing

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mid View Post

    The Netherlands-based Clean Clothes Campaign,
    The Netherlands is a country that used gay soldiers to protect old people, children and women to protect the srebinsca enclave in Bosnia. Everyone was slaughtered. People from the Netherlands should be given authority and/or respect only when they wear uniforms and blow whistles in a large open-air car park in Nakon Sodomy.

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    "We're concerned about the chilling effect on society and on freedom of expression,"

    Freedom of expression has NEVER existed in Thailand. What a pathetic joke.

  5. #5
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    An excellent article in my opinion.

    Violating human rights? Yes, indeed!

    Violating human rights? Yes, indeed!
    June 7th, 2010 by Kwanravee Wangudom, Guest Contributor · 3 Comments

    The article “Is this government violating human rights? Think again” by Arie Bloed published in the Bangkok Post on 3 June 2010 raises many important points.

    First of all, the author argues that the dispersal of the two-month-long demonstration by the Thai government is legitimate and proper. And that no other countries in the world would have tolerated such a marathon demonstration. But, in fact, the demonstrations would not have lasted as long as they did had there been any offer of a speedy and viable political solution from the Prime Minister. The futile first and only round of negotiations resulted in no acceptable option for resolving the demands for speedy elections since the duration after which he would call a House Dissolution was too long.

    Secondly, whilst it can be agreed that the government is supposed to “maintain public order” and prevent the “the disproportionate violation of the rights of others”, government is surely also supposed to act in response to the genuine grievances of its own people. The protesters peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly. Prior to the crackdown on 10 April, there were no reports whatsoever of any violent and aggressive incidents coming from the Red Shirt gathering. Nor does Arie Bloed find any evidence of any such violent incidents.

    Thirdly, the author disclaims himself from talking about the “raging censorship” in Thailand and goes on to criticize the protesters for their invasion of TV stations and public offices and even a hospital. This reflects a vital flaw in his argument, since the very reason that protesters were prompted to storm into public places stemmed largely from indiscriminate and blanket censorships of their own media and communications possibilities by the government – not to mention government propaganda of various kinds. Enforcement of draconian laws authorizes the Thai government to put extremely harsh pressure on the demonstrators including the restriction of their mobility, their rights of free speech, and their self-organizing.

    Finally, the author criticizes the government rightly about its poor intelligence which made it unable to identify the “armed groups” among the demonstrators, but he nonetheless says the government is somehow justified by international human rights standards in ordering the troops to use firearms against demonstrators. This is such an oxymoron – using human rights norms to justify killing innocent people – the point is that the poor intelligence which made the government unable to identify alleged “armed groups” in the midst of the protestors, should not have been used to justify using firearms against a crowd of mainly unarmed protestors. In other words, how would it be possible for the government to use firearms against the right targets, namely the “armed groups”? As a result, none of the slain and injured demonstrators and passersby, more than 2,000 of them, was found to have in possession any weapon. Can this justify the use of gunshots for “self-defense”? Worse, many of the victims are found to have been shot by “indiscriminate shootings” including foreign and local journalists and medic personnel who literally gave and risked their lives to save others. All of this is in serious violation of the most basic principles of humanitarian law, let alone the human rights obligations of the Thai government.

    On 31 May 2010 at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated unambiguously that human rights had been violated, when he said: “…the authority has the responsibility to restore order. In doing so, however, they must abide by international standards concerning the use of force and due process for those detained.” The United Kingdom’s statement said: “We deeply regret the violence and loss of life in Bangkok. As a friend of Thailand, we wish to see all sides engage in an urgent process of national reconciliation to address the underlying social, economic and political causes of the recent violence and continuing instability. Differences need to be resolved through an open, honest political dialogue rather than through violence.” (Philip Tissot, UK Chargé d’Affaires, The Human Rights Council in Geneva).

    In the same meeting, Spain (on behalf of the European Union) voiced its concerns over degrading human rights situations in various countries including Thailand, thus welcoming independent investigations into the human rights abuses in relation to the government crackdowns.

    After all it was the bloodiest dispersal in Thailand’s history. The number of casualties among civilians far exceeded that of the officials. The whole legal system has been bent toward providing for the state to use excessive powers against its own people whose demand was simply an earlier election. Such restrictions of freedom have been made without any concern for the obligations Thailand has toward international instruments that it has ratified, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The right to life of Thai people has been trampled underfoot so brutally. Yet, according to ICCPR even “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation” (Art. 4), there can be no derogation to the right to life.

    As Arie Bloed must realize, misapplying some clauses of international law, without fully understanding its purpose and without taking the deeper context into account is like giving governments a ‘license to kill’ and perpetuating the status quo of murderous governments.

    [Kwanravee Wangudom is a human rights professional and activist, and graduate of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University, The Hague, The Netherlands (Masters in Human Rights, Development and Social Justice).]
    "Slavery is the daughter of darkness; an ignorant people is the blind instrument of its own destruction; ambition and intrigue take advantage of the credulity and inexperience of men who have no political, economic or civil knowledge. They mistake pure illusion for reality, license for freedom, treason for patriotism, vengeance for justice."-Simón Bolívar

  6. #6
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    A bit old, but I missed it...thought it important to include.

    Letter to Prime Minister Abhisit on Conducting an Investigation into Recent Protests | Human Rights Watch

    Letter to Prime Minister Abhisit on Conducting an Investigation into Recent Protests
    JUNE 1, 2010
    Dear Prime Minister,

    We write to you about the need for the Thai government to urgently set up an impartial, independent, and transparent process to investigate human rights abuses committed by all sides during the recent protests and hold accountable all those found responsible. We note that in your statement to the nation on May 21, 2010, you committed your government to conduct an "independent investigation of all the events that have taken place during the protests."

    Anti-government protests organized by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) began on March 12, 2010. During the ensuing street battles, which involved UDD protesters (known as "Red Shirts"), heavily armed militants linked to the UDD, pro-government groups, and Thai security forces, at least 85 people were killed and 1,898 were injured, according to the Public Health Ministry.

    As a fundamental component of your "road map" for national reconciliation, you publicly endorsed an impartial investigation into politically motivated violence and abuses committed by all sides. You have also provided assurances that government officials, law enforcement officers, and security personnel will not seek amnesty to avoid accountability. Those pledges are welcome. It is now time to put words into actions.

    We urge the Thai government to show its commitment to justice by using such mechanisms as the National Human Rights Commission, a parliamentary inquiry, and an independent commission specifically appointed for the inquiry that includes credible and respected, yet disparate, voices representing a broad range of the political spectrum.

    A credible and impartial investigation will need to address abuses by both sides, particularly incidents in which people were killed or wounded. It should include acts of violence by UDD protesters and militants affiliated with the UDD against the security forces and civilians, including medical personnel and reporters, as well as looting, arson, and destruction of property. At the same time, this investigation also should examine decisions by the security forces to fire live ammunition and other possible misuses of force. The Thai government has international obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to investigate all police actions and actions of the security forces that violate such basic rights and hold perpetrators to account. In addition, an investigation should examine alleged abuses related to the enforcement of the Internal Security Act and the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in a State of Emergency.

    In highlighting the need for an independent investigation, Human Rights Watch remains concerned about ongoing rights violations related to the recent violence. Of special concern is the safety of hundreds of UDD protesters and supporters who have been arrested over the past two months in Bangkok and elsewhere; to date, the government has failed to provide information about the identities of all those detained, the total number of detainees, and their current whereabouts and conditions. Additionally, the government's broad use of emergency powers to shut down more than 1,000 websites, a satellite television station, online television channels, and community radio stations, most of which are considered closely aligned with the UDD, violates the right to freedom of expression under international law.

    Thailand is a newly elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. In this connection, Human Rights Watch urges the Thai government to be open to engaging with the council's reporting systems, as well as to fully cooperate with such mechanisms as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the special rapporteur for extrajudicial executions, and the special rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression.

    We look forward to your attention and prompt response to these matters of concern.

    Yours sincerely,

    Elaine Pearson

    Acting Executive Director, Asia Division

    Human Rights Watch

    Cc:

    Kasit Piromya, Minister of Foreign Affairs

    Dr. Amara Pongsapitch, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission

  7. #7
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    How many are detained?

    JUNE 6, 2010...12:59 PM
    How many are detained?

    At present it is impossible to know exactly how many people have been arrested under emergency rule maintained by the Abhisit Vejjajiva military-backed government. The reason for this is that government – at present, this essentially means the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) – is seemingly reluctant to provide the names and details.

    This unknown number of people are on all kinds of sometimes unspecified suspicions held by the army and government. The names of some of those held are known because the government has arranged for the courts to extend their detention. PPT has highlighted the cases of Suthachai Yimprasert (now released) and Somyos Prueksakasemsuk (who has had his detention extended three times, with no charges being laid), but how many more are there?

    The Bangkok Post reports that a “group of academics nationwide was … mobilising support for Mr Somyot’s release…”. Importantly, the group is also calling for “more transparency by the CRES over the treatment of other detainees.” The group has called on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to “investigate unjustified detention” and for an end to draconian emergency rule.

    The Post reporters state that the NHRC “was supposed to be an independent agency and a mechanism for people who could not get justice” is a polite way of saying that the NHRC has been hopelessly inactive since being reconstituted under this government, being populated by royalists and compromised members.

    The academics argue that: “Without strong and convincing evidence, arrests and detention under the special law only enhance the mistrust, fears and hatred among people, as was the case in history from 1970-80…”. They also called on “CRES to announce the names of arrestees and detainees relating to the red-shirted demonstrations…” and “appealed to the acting police chief to release the list of detainees and their whereabouts in all the provinces which were under the emergency decree blanket.”

    Under all this pressure, NHRC chair Amara Pongsapich assigned commissioner Niran Pithakwatchara to “look into the complaints and controversy” surrounding CRES’s detention orders. Niran visited Somyos a the army camp where he is detained on the day that the government had the detention extended. Somyos denied he had violated the law. He also denied that he “had not formed a meeting of more than five people on 20 May (which was banned under the emergency law).”

    PPT has serious doubts about the NHRC and its effectiveness. We’re not even sure that the NHRC even has the capacity to understand the significance of, and deal with difficult, human rights issues in a society that is divided by political conflict. Amara has been totally ineffective and compromised by her links to royalists and Privy Councilor Prem Tinsulanonda.

    The website of the Central Bureau of Investigation, mentioned in the first Post article above, apparently says that there “were 99 arrests in Bangkok and the Central Region, but no names or detention venue were revealed.” There is no official information on detentions in other provincial areas. The academics believe that these (unknown) detainees cannot be contacted, cannot get legal advice and are having their rights abused.

    Meanwhile, the politically-biased Department of Special Investigation (DSI) claims that “39 suspects are being detained on terrorism charges in connection with the anti-government rallies…”. It is seeking this week to arrest and detain without bail three more, each of them members of parliament on the same charges.

    As PPT has pointed out several times, this authoritarian government, protected by the military and emergency rule, is essentially out of control.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
    As PPT has pointed out several times, this authoritarian government, protected by the military and emergency rule, is essentially out of control.
    There we have the sad truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bettyboo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
    As PPT has pointed out several times, this authoritarian government, protected by the military and emergency rule, is essentially out of control.
    There we have the sad truth.
    And thats precisely why I think PT and UDD should back off the election call and leave the "unelected government" exposed and there for all to see.
    Just keep up the terrorist and murders pressure and let the UN and HRW take the lead.They will only become more and more faschist as the scheduled election approaches.

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