A Letter to Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban
Dear Deputy Prime Minister Suthep,
It has come to our attention that you recently threatened my position as legal counsel to members of the political opposition in Thailand, as reported in the Thai press. This included not only threat of legal action but also indiscriminate threats to make me “suffer.” Given previous conduct by members of your government and yourself, I have reason to express special concern over this denigration of the legal profession. These developments are to be read against a pattern of intimidation your government has launched against international critics, including the recent arrest of a US citizen and harassment of foreign academics.
To those who have followed our work, I fear your threats will be exposed. To criticize and call to account the leadership of the Democrat Party for human rights violations does not represent an attack on Thailand nor any of her institutions. If it did, not only our legal representation would have to be challenged, but equally various other international actors who have brought attention to your government’s human rights abuses, including Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists. From the beginning we have worked closely with local Thai lawyers to ensure that our activities fully conform tonational and international law, and continue to do so with rigorous attention to detail and respect for the laws of Thailand. Hardworking professionals and witnesses have helped to document and publish proof of criminal acts by your government. In turn, we await evidence from your government to sustain the accusations you bring against those who oppose your rule.
It is damaging to Thailand to create a hostile environment for defense counsel to perform their essential functions in support of the rule of law: your and your government’s threats of political persecution contribute to Thailand’s failing reputation in the international community. The continued use by you and the Democrat Party of the courts as tools to suppress dissent and cover up human rights violations is being exposed within and beyond the borders of Thailand.
On June 2nd, there will be a court hearing for 17 members of the Red Shirt leadership and many are fearing the worst: that the Democrats will seek to arbitrarily and unlawfully imprison these opposition members on false charges with consequences for the legitimacy and credibility of the forthcoming general elections. It is in this wider context that we invite all to read your threats against me following a joint statement with UDD leader Thida Thavornseth.
Your and your government’s attempts to suppress and frustrate the Red Shirt movement have not been successful. The people of Thailand deserve a free and fair election. My firm has documented a series of actions by your party and the Army to frustrate yet again the will of the people. We urge you to turn away from your party’s history of illegal violence and arbitrary suppression of political opponents. We urge you in your role as coordinator of your party’s activities with the Army to cease instrumentalizing the military to maintain your wholly illegitimate domination of the political process.
In your final days as Deputy Prime Minister, I suggest that you act with the magnanimity and dignity demanded of your high office.