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Press Release: International Justice for Thai Impunity

ICC.jpgRed Shirts Appeal to ICC over Killings of Protesters by Thai Military Compiled evidence alleges crimes against humanity by Royal Thai Army BANGKOK-TOKYO, Jan. 31, 2011 – Today lawyers acting on behalf of the Red Shirt pro-democracy movement are presenting a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague requesting prosecutors to open an inquiry into the situation in the Kingdom of Thailand relating to the alleged commission of crimes against humanity during the April/May crackdown of last year. “We are appealing to international justice to put an end to Thai impunity,” said Thida Thawornseth, leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD). “Our courts have failed to administer justice, and our government has failed to investigate the murders of more than 80 peaceful protesters. The ICC is only the first step of a broad campaign to seek justice across a number of international forums.”

Speaking from Tokyo via videoconference, lawyer Robert Amsterdam drew comparisons with how other authoritarian governments use the military to violently repress protests. “When we look at all the striking parallels between what is currently happening in Egypt and what the Thai government did to the Red Shirts last year – from the killings to mass arrests to blatant manipulation of evidence to incriminate the victims – we can see that they are reading from the same script,” said Amsterdam. “This case represents a historic opportunity for international justice to confront governments who deploy their militaries to use violence against their own citizens.”The ICC application contains a number of detailed testimonies, including an expert report by Joe Ray Witty, a former U.S. Army Sergeant and crowd control expert with the Los Angeles Police Department SWAT. Witty’s report indicates that the Royal Thai Army’s operations on May 19, 2010 were “military in nature” and “designed to kill innocent civilians, without provocation or justification, in order to suppress the Red Shirt demonstrations.”The Witty report also contains a number of shocking revelations, such as the Army’s likely responsibility for grenade attacks against troops on April 10, 2010, which served as a pretext for soldiers to begin firing into the crowd of protesters, violating official rules of engagement.”In light of repeated violent crackdowns throughout Thai history, this legal filing represents the first comprehensive attempt to obtain the facts and evidence of what happened during the 2010 massacres, let alone publish them before the public,” said Amsterdam. “What we have exposed is not just a botched security operation, but rather a determined policy of extermination and elimination of the Red Shirt movement by the military. These egregious violations require answers and accountability.”A special website has been set up to host videos and witness testimonies of the dead and injured at http://www.thaiaccountability.org. A copy of the ICC application and accompanying materials will be published on http://www.robertamsterdam.com/thailand.