“A License to Kill” – The Problem with Thailand’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report
On September 17, 2012, the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT) published its “Final Report” on the events of that took place in Bangkok in April and May 2010,1 when over 90 people were killed in military crackdowns against “Red Shirt” protesters. As predicted in filings submitted by legal counsel for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) dating back to October 2010,2 the TRCT’s long awaited report can only be described as an attempt to shield those who planned, approved, carried out, and oversaw the 2010 crackdowns from accountability. As detailed in these pages, the TRCT report does not uncover new evidence of any note, but offers a radical and highly selective re-interpretation of evidence already in the public record, absolving both the principals and the agents involved in the crackdowns of any responsibility for the death of protesters.
Far from living up to its mission of promoting reconciliation by uncovering the truth, the TRCT’s report underscores Thailand’s inability to end impunity, come to terms with the truth, and uphold its international responsibility to properly investigate incidents of state violence. The TRCT’s decision to blame the violence entirely on the protesters—and unidentified armed militants with asserted but never substantiated links with the UDD—is not just likely to further inflame Thailand’s deep social divisions, but effectively grants any future government a license to kill unarmed demonstrations. Some commentators who have been critical of the Red Shirts in the past reached the same conclusion, also calling the report “a license to kill” (bai anuyat hai kha).
Full paper below.