An Open Letter to Thailand’s General Prayuth

Dear General Prayuth Chan-Ocha,

It’s now almost two years since you and your associates staged your coup in May 2014. Since then I have been silent not for lack of payment but because you have taken so many people hostage – indeed, you’ve take the entire country hostage. To call that coup anti-democratic, illegal and corrupt would actually diminish the unbearably dark shadow you and your cabal of cowardly generals have cast over the proud and decent Thai people.

Unfortunately, in Thailand, the aspirations of “generals” such as yourself aren’t to defend the people and their democratic choices or even to be good soldiers. In fact, General Prayuth, your main achievement before the coup was to help organise the slaughter of almost 100 unarmed Thai civilians in 2010. The bravery you must have displayed when doing so remains unquantifiable.

Since that momentous day in May 2014 when your “courage” pushed you towards sending your tanks and battalions to destroy Thailand’s fragile democracy – at the exact point when it needed defending the most – you’ve turned your country into a pariah and strutted across the international stage as the latest preening fool-dictator.

The Thai people, of course, deserve far far better than you and your junta.

And the Thai people’s choices were very clear and explicit. In their tens of millions they had chosen Yingluck Shinawatra and Pheu Thai to be their respective elected prime minister and party of government. The simple fact you ignored, completely, the expressed democratic will of the Thai people reveals the contempt in which you hold your fellow Thais. They are, obviously, an irrelevance to you. For you, Thais should know their place, follow orders and, if they don’t, be prepared to face the consequences.

Of course, when challenged, you dole out threats, summon your troops and round up students and journalists for what you call, without any shame, “attitude adjustment”. Only last week, in late April 2016, you arrested 8 Thai citizens who’d dared to criticise you and the forthcoming “referendum” on the military junta’s “constitution”. These persons are facing lengthy jail terms – it leaves one wondering if Facebook pages are the most dangerous threat you’ve faced in all your years of “soldiering”.

The draft “constitution” you are putting forward in the forthcoming August 2016 referendum is inherently anti-democrat with the man you put in charge of the drafting committee explicit about denying Thai people sovereignty. “The constitution is not meant to give sole power to citizens but to ensure the well-being of the citizens,” said Meechai Ruchupa, knowing full well that it will be generals like you who will get to decide what kind of “well-being” Thais will have to endure.

And, of course, the referendum itself is nothing short of putting a loaded gun to the heads of ordinary Thais. The message from the junta is clear – “vote for this deeply anti-democratic constitution or else”. Such is your fear that Thais may actively resist your continued assault on democracy you’ve also deemed that anyone campaigning against the referendum will face up to 10years in prison. This would, no doubt, be enforced by the Thai Army, guns ready, bayonets drawn, snipers in position.

However, I remain convinced that this endless spiral towards despotism you’ve forced Thailand to travel on will come to an end. The Thai people’s faith in democracy and decency is greater than your ability to crush them. Your defeat is, in all eventualities, inevitable.

You sir are a criminal and we shall not rest before you end up in the jail cell you so richly deserve.


Robert Amsterdam