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September 19, 2012

Lawyer for Thailand’s Red Shirts Denounces Report on 2010 Violence

WASHINGTON DC, 19 September 2012 – Counsel acting on behalf of Thailand’s Red Shirt pro-democracy movement has denounced the conclusions of a new report into the 2010 killings of protesters, saying that it is counterproductive and provocative because the victims will refuse to accept anything less than accountability.

“All of us who were there know what happened, and this report, which mostly absolves the key players of any responsibility, defiles the dead and wounded,” said Robert Amsterdam, international counsel to the United National Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as the Red Shirts. “The victims will not accept this report, and will not accept the false equivalence the report attempts to draw between an army firing upon unarmed protesters and their civic right to protest for democracy against a coup-appointed government.”

On September 17, 2012, the Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC) published its final report on the events of that took place in Bangkok in April and May 2010, when more than 90 people were killed in military crackdowns against Red Shirt protesters.

According to Mr. Amsterdam, when the government of former Prime Minister Mark Abhisit Vejjajiva appointed the TRC, there were reasons to question the commission’s independence, its mandate, and its membership. The TRC’s Chairman, Khanit na Nakhon, had been selected by a non-elected military junta three years earlier to investigate the “War on Drugs,” and has gone on the record to say that he was not concerned with accountability but rather only wanted to focus on forgiveness.

According to Mr. Amsterdam, the TRC report cannot be taken seriously given that it fails to address the unlawful nature of the military coup that unseated the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, which is a core grievance of Thailand’s pro-democracy protest movement. Instead, says Mr. Amsterdam, the TRC blames Thaksin for the coup, much like the Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has blamed protesters for “running into the bullets.”

“The presentation of findings in the TRC report concerning the 2010 killings of Red Shirt protesters fails to address the clear and universally condemned breaches of human rights law resulting in parts of Bangkok being turned into a live fire zone,” said Mr. Amsterdam. “The Red Shirts reject the conclusions of this biased report as another attempt to whitewash the crimes against humanity committed by a small group of Thai elites. We will continue fighting for accountability so that the people of Thailand are not subjected again and again to violence by the Army with no consequences.”

Thailand has experienced regular cycles of violence with citizens killed by the military in 1973, 1976, 1992, 2009, and 2010. According to Mr. Amsterdam, the conclusions of this report only ensure that it happens again.
In late June, Robert Amsterdam participated in a delegation of victims, witnesses, and government officials led by the Thai historian Dr. Thongchai Winichakul to meetings at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to discuss their application requesting an investigation.

“While there are sections of the report that contain commendable recommendations, the section addressing the April-May 2010 violence fails miserably,” said Dr. Winichakul of the University of Wisconsin. “The commission is guided by their own bias and ideology since several leading TRC members are supporters of the 2006 coup. Any serious human rights organization should be careful before endorsing this report.”

More information can be found on http://www.robertamsterdam.com/thailand.


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