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Put Some Pressure on Thailand

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From my latest on Huffington Post:

It has been particularly heartening to see Germany’s decision to halt the sale of of military equipment – in the specific instance, engines that power Ukrainian-made armored personnel carriers – to the Royal Thai Army, citing EU rules which prohibit the sale of arms to “governments that systematically use violence to suppress or deny the rights of their citizens.” Thailand is finally beginning to be treated like the violent authoritarian state and serial human rights abuser that it is, rather than the sunny, smiling illusion once held in much of the West.

Until other major allies such as the United States, Japan, and otherEuropean states make it clear to the Thai elites that there areconsequences for these open breaches of international law andindiscriminate use of state violence against citizens, they will see noincentive for change. Of course, one assumption is that internationalisolation is a price that the Thai elites are prepared to pay in orderto maintain their grip on power. The potential ramifications of such astrategy are very worrying and the window for the internationalcommunity to act before more state violence is unleashed may be tiny.

What is becoming clearer is that with Thailand’s internal oppositionbeing rapidly degraded by the ongoing repression, fewer checks andbalances remain on the excessive actions of the Thai regime. Theinternational community, and bodies such as Amnesty International (whosetacit acceptance of lese majeste imprisonmentsis problematic), need to implement a coherent campaign where it is madeclear that the Thai regime will be held to account should they continueon their path of violence and oppression.

Faced with a regime that “cling[s] to power through corruption anddeceit and the silencing of dissent,” as President Obama put it in hisinaugural address, the rest of the world has an obligation not to”extend a hand” until the Thai government decides to unclench its fist.