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Thailand, the ICC, and Crimes Against Humanity

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This week my law firm participated in the filing of a preliminary report on behalf of the Thai Red Shirt movement and others to notify the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court with regard to the situation of recent political violence, arguing that an investigation into the alleged commission of crimes against humanity by the authorities is merited. 

In the preparation of this document as well as other future filings, our team on the ground in Bangkok has interviewed at length dozens of witnesses and survivors for details of the events which resulted in the violent crackdown of the Red Shirt protest camp. These testimonies, published for the first time in this document, are a chilling reminder of the urgency of international action on this issue (see excerpt below). At the bottom of this post is an embedded link to the full document.

Anonymous Witness 6 and Anonymous Witness 9 were present at the demonstration near the Ratchaprasong intersection on May 19. At approximately 13:00 hours, the Red Shirt leaders surrendered and advised everyone to go to the Pathumwanaran temple complex for safe refuge. In the temple, the witnesses report everyone was peaceful. As it was notsafe outside, people could not go home yet. Between 16:00 and 17:00, witnesses reported seeing five soldiers on the lower train track of the BTS platform in front of the entrance to the temple, many meters above street level, from where they could see directly into the temple area. Inside the temple, the first aid tent was clearly marked with a red cross. At about 18:30 the soldiers started to shoot into the temple area, without warning. At that time, the first aid tent and medical volunteers also came under fire. Three nurses were shot, Kamibked Akhard, Mongkol Kemthong, and Akkharadej Khankaew, who slowly died. These soldiers from the First Region Army shot at everything that moved, preventing anyone to reach the first aid tent to help. At 19:00 hours, a group of soldiers came shouting obscenities at the people assembled inside the temple. When some tried to drag the bodies of the nurses to safer area into the temple ground, the soldiers targeted them again. The shooting stopped at approximately 20:00 hours. The next morning, six dead bodies were lined up in the rear garden of the temple area. Several other witnesses that provided statements corroborate this account.

Officially, an additional sixty civilians died during the weeklong crackdown that resulted in the Red Shirts’ dispersal on May 19. Despite repeated accusations of “terrorism” leveled at the UDD, no security forces died during the operations, while none of the people gunned down by the authorities proved to have been carrying weapons.

Once again, in crushing the Red Shirts the Abhisit administration and Royal Thai Army appear to have ignored crowd control principles altogether. Contrary to “international standards such as the “United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Fire Arms by Law Enforcement Officials,” its dispersal operations made little use of “non-lethal incapacitating weapons.” No care whatsoever appears to have been taken to “minimize the risk of endangering uninvolved persons” and to “preserve human life.” Its shoot-to-kill policy for demonstrators burning tires and setting off firecrackers does not appear to constitute a response undertaken “in proportion to the seriousness of the offense.” Attacks on medical workers were not ordered in the interest of ensuring that “assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment.” Even if the Red Shirts demonstrations could be regarded as “violent” and “unlawful” — if only because the State of Emergency declared them to be illegal — the wealth of eyewitness accounts that emerged from the government’s live fire zones strongly suggests that the use of force was not limited to the “minimum extent necessary.”

Preliminary Report into the Situation of the Kingdom of Thailand With Regard to the Commission of Crimes Ag…