Thailand’s bogus human rights report


Thailand’s bogus human rights report

By  Aug 12, 2013 4:59PM UTC

A report on the tragic events of 2010 whitewashes the role of the military, writes Asia Sentinel’s Pavin Chachavalpongpun    

At long last, a report has been released that was compiled by Thailand’s ill-fated Human Rights Commission, headed by academic-turned-Democrat supporter Amara Pongsapich. To no one’s surprise, the report is far from being a fair assessment of the tragic incident in which the state security agencies launched brutal crackdowns on Red-Shirt protesters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship in May 2010.

After taking more than three years, the commission, as it appears in the report, creates its own myths about the crackdowns to justify the military’s use of force against protesters. It is evident that Amara and her team attempted and failed badly to explain away the wrongdoings of the security forces.

Pic: AP.

Some of the commission’s explanations of the tragic incident are beyond belief. In a televised broadcast last week in Bangkok, Amara claimed that the Red-Shirt protesters indeed provoked the government; and possibly that they deserved to be retaliated against in such a way.

Amara accused the Red-Shirt protesters of using hand-made weapons to fight with the government, exploiting women and children as their own shields. Thus again they deserved to be retaliated against by the state. She continued to condemn the protesters for violating the state of emergency. Even when Amara confessed that she disagreed with the state of emergency, her commission did not come out to boycott it because, in her own words, “I was still confused at the time.”

In this report, the commission confirms that there existed “men in black,” supposedly hiding themselves among the Red Shirts and responsible for the killings of the protesters. Amara affirmed that in the commission’s interviews with 184 witnesses, they said that they saw armed “men in black”. This information strongly contradicts the verdict of a Thai Court which recently denied their existence.

In her defense of the military and the government of former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Amara said that it was not possible that the state security forces would initiate the violence. “They only acted in defense,” Amara stressed.

In the case of the death of six volunteers who worked within the no-fire zone inside Pathumwanaram Temple, Amara said that there were many rumors about the incident. Possibly, the six were killed outside the temple but were dragged inside to muddy the situation. Again, her information contradicts other recent testimony by the Department of Special Investigation which verifies that the six were all killed inside the temple and the shootings came from the direction of the sky train where snipers were stationing.

And shockingly, Amara rewrote the details of the arson attack against Central World, a Bangkok department store. She said that it was likely that after the crackdowns, some of the Red Shirt members may have quarreled with the store’s security guards. Driven by their anger, the Red Shirt members supposedly burned down the whole building. Yet, nobody has been able to identify these Red Shirt arsonists.

Human rights activist ready to face jail on return to Thailand

Human rights activist ready to face jail on return to Thailand

editorial image

editorial image

That is the message from human rights activist Andy Hall, who is visiting his home town while renewing his visa.

Speaking to the Free Press at his parents’ house in Malvern Avenue, Mr Hall said there was no question of him staying in this country and not returning to Thailand, even though when he arrives back he could be thrown into jail.

He said: “It’s a daunting thought, but I will be in touch with my lawyers to see if a warrant has been issued.

“But I must go back because there is still work to do. I have to carry on.”

Last week, we reported how Mr Hall is setting up a legal defence fund to help fight civil and criminal charges lodged against him by the Natural Fruit Company Ltd.

Mr Hall – who has worked with Burmese Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and organised her visit to Mahachai where 250,000 of her country’s migrant workers live – is facing two years in prison and a multi-million pound fine, after co-authoring a report that slammed the National Fruit Company Ltd for its alleged use of child labour in one of its factories.

He has been critical of lack of support from the British Embassy and says only now has the Ambassador in Thailand taken up his case after police at Bangna Police Station “nearly tricked” him into confessing the allegations he made about working conditions at the fruit company were untrue.

Tomorrow he is going to London to meet with officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Last month, the British government became the first country to launch an action plan on business and human rights.

Mr Hall said: “The Government has pledged to protect human rights and I am disappointed I have had no support until now.

“I will be meeting ministers to tell them about the situation I am now facing.”

On arriving home, he said he was not surprised to find the origin of crab sticks on the shelves of a Spalding supermarket was Thailand.

He said: “People think Thailand is a paradise destination but under the surface it’s very nasty. Migrant workers come to Thailand to flee poverty and war, only to be held at gunpoint, not allowed to go out and shot if they protest.

“I’m not saying don’t buy Thai food, but ask supermarkets how it gets on the shelves.

“If there is a risk exports could be affected, the Thai government will listen. Consumers in Spalding have the power to change things.”

CAMBODIA: Time to get to work

As a neighbouring country, we must not completely ignore what is about Cambodia. The article is a direct copied

from original :

What ever opinion will up to each person.


CAMBODIA: Time to get to work

October 17, 2013

An article by Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The more Hun Sen attempts to ignore grievances of the increasingly vocal cohort of Cambodian voters who allege election irregularities and fraud, the more the emboldened and determined opposition party demands an independent impartial joint CNRP-CPP investigation committee to seek more accurate accounting of ballots cast in the July 28th national election.

A metaphor seems appropriate. Imagine spectators gathering around a glass jar filled with water to watch one of Cambodians’ passtimes, chul trei krem or fish fighting. Two fish swim around, looking for one another’s weak area to attack. Gills open, fins and tails flapping, their scales turn dark colors, the fish seem to contract, poised to attack. Would it be a fight to the death or will an owner interrupt the fight to save his fish for the next fight?

The Cambodians’ political deadlock is a tragedy. There cannot be a winner. Hun Sen and his CPP know, and concerned foreign governments, too, know, the ruling party can in no way continue to govern as a one-party government and a one-party parliament devoid of opposition members who were duly elected by at least half of the country’s voters. Half of the country has openly rejected Hun Sen’s 28 years of autocratic rule and the CPP’s 34 year domination of Cambodian governance. Even many CPP partisans acknowledge that fresh leadership is overdue. In fact, reliable reports assert that increasing numbers of civil servants are unhappy with the status quo and that officers in the armed forces are overtly questioning if they are on the wrong side of history.

Hun Sen and his close associates are vehemently against an investigation committee. His reluctance is suspect if, as Hun Sen asserts, the CPP won the election fairly. Sam Rainsy is on the record as saying he would abide by the findings of a nonpartisan investigating committee.   Would the true reason be that Hun Sen has no intention of ceding power? The aftermath of Cambodia’s recent election has surely made clear that Hun Sen and the CPP are no longer secure nor uncontested as they once were. More Cambodians agree it’s time for change, ph’do.

Hun Sen seems aware of his tenuous hold on power. So, on Sept 26 he spoke at his first new cabinet meeting for more than 6 hours about reforms, addressing corruption, nepotism, the rule of law and other issues. But Cambodians say Hun Sen and the CPP have made many undelivered promises before. Hun Sen’s proposed reforms may come too late.

Baek Chea O, Ho Chea Stoeng

To “open Pandora’s box” means to take an action that seems small and benign, but that produces harsh and sweeping results. Such a Pandora’s box was opened when King Sihamoni acted to convene Cambodia’s Fifth Parliament on Sept 23 despite popular appeals not to do so, including even the delivery to the Royal Palace of the signatures of about half a million voters who petitioned the king to refrain from opening the Assembly until after an investigation, and warnings from the opposition that it would boycott the National Assembly if convened on that date.

The Khmers’ expression Baek Chea O, Ho Chea Stoeng, refers to a disagreement that takes a life of its own as it spreads like flowing water that creates water stream and turns into a river. The king’s opening of the National Assembly of 123 seats total, with only 68 members of the CPP attending, left 55 seats empty of opposition members. This one-party Assembly approved Hun Sen as Prime Minister and his cabinet as the Royal Government of Cambodia. The stream of opposition quickly grew from a stream into a river.

The CNRP immediately characterized the new Parliament and the Royal Government as unconstitutional and urged the world’s nations not to recognize the government. The CPP countered by calling the CNRP’s actions unconstitutional as the opposition rejected the Assembly and the Government sanctioned by the King.

This, again, is like the Khmer folk dance the Ramvong circle dance. Here, politicians from both parties are participants. They dance around and around in a circle as long as the drumbeats thak theeng thong sound. Like trei krem samdaeng tuor or fighting fish showing their aggressive postures, the dancers perform their chak kbach showing off their skills in leg and hand movement.

“The ballet of dueling press conferences has begun. But the playbook has changed,” writes Elizabeth Becker, author of When The War Was Over, in “Cambodians Refuse to Accept Rigged Elections” in YaleGolobal Online. “Cambodians are far less likely to accept Hun Sen’s promises and say so in social media. Foreign partners are watching, worried about their investments,” she says.

On Oct 6, the CNRP held a people’s congress at Freedom Park where its leaders met with some 15,000 to 20,000 voters who passed a 10-point Resolution instructing the party to demand the establishment of an investigation committee, to carry on mass protests, undertake a general strike of civil servants and workers across the country, intensify diplomatic contacts, to submit “millions of thumbprints” to the UN and to the 18 signatory governments of the Paris Peace Accords, among others.

On her Website, CNRP leader Mu Sochua reaffirmed her party’s commitment to nonviolent mass protests and a general strike, and announced a mass rally at Freedom Park on Oct 23, the date of the 22nd anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords that ended Cambodia’s conflict involving four Khmer warring factions: “We will be coming from all national roads and will meet at Freedom Park at 3PM.” Sochua remarked, as soon as CNRP vice president Kem Sokha declared “we would organize a mass protest during the Water Festival,” the government immediately cancelled the annual Water Festival, Bon Om Touk, for 2013.

The Bon Om Touk festival, which takes place in November, has typically been attended by as many as two million spectators from across the country that come to Phnom Penh for three days of boat races to celebrate the seasonal reversal of water flow from the Tonle Sap Great Lake into the Mekong. In this heated political atmosphere, Hun Sen has reasons to fear.

Meanwhile, Hun Sen’s RGC has moved swiftly to fill all nine parliamentary commissions with CPP members thereby keeping elected CNRP members who boycotted the Parliament effectively outside of the National Assembly.

CNRP leader Sam Rainsy has been visiting foreign capitals for two weeks to drum up support for an investigation committee and non-recognition of the current regime. He also calls on the signatory governments of the Paris Peace Accords to intervene in Cambodia’s deadlock.

However, the Oct 9 Phnom Penh Post reported that some lawyers and analysts question Sam Rainsy and the CNRP’s “legal basis” for charging the National Assembly as “unconstitutional.”

Article 76 of the Cambodian Constitution stipulates “The National Assembly consists of at least 120 members.” In Cambodia’s Constitutional Council’s Decision No. 054/005/2003 CC.D of July 22, 2003, the Council interpreted paragraph 1 of Article 76: “This means that there shall be at least 120 deputies (assembly members) to be able to form the National Assembly at every legislature. Electoral law cannot limit the number of parliamentarians to less than 120. This paragraph 1 is a necessary condition for the formation of a National Assembly but not its functioning.”

For Prime Minister Hun Sen, the King’s stamp of approval on the CPP-only National Assembly and the RGC makes both creations legitimate although half of the country refuses to accept them and insists on asking, “Where is my vote?”

As Becker writes, Cambodians are “an awakened citizenry (who) refuses to play along. Integrated with the world, many Cambodians have become too aware, too sophisticated, to accept the rule of a corrupt elite that relies on force and openly steals the fortunes of the country while trampling on individual rights.”


In the world in which nation-states seek to maximize national interests, idealism and humanity take a back seat.

Mu Sochua’s frustration is understandable as governments that push for electoral investigation and reform also call on disputants to work together as these governments congratulate Hun Sen for his election “victory” and deal with him as legitimate. They speak ambiguously. “You can’t go both ways,” Sochua says.

On Oct 14, France and Australia joined other countries such as China, Singapore, Japan, India, Brazil in congratulating Hun Sen on his “victory” and on becoming Prime Minister. Which country will be next? And one has to question whether Sam Rainsy and the CNRP are engaging in a futile exercise.

Unfortunately, that’s what Realpolitik is: to seek maximization of power and influences, and of national interests. Everything else is secondary. Justice for the half of Cambodia’s people who reject Cambodia’s current regime is secondary. In practice, a government does recognize another on the basis of political expediency that serves its goals, more than on some ideal principles.

Facing Reality

Cambodia is not going to develop or improve if democrats who want ph’do continue to repeat thinking and behavior that has brought no positive result. They should reassess their ways of thinking and their actions rather than feeling victimized and blaming others for their misfortune. Lord Buddha taught 2,500 years ago, “What we think we become,” and “We are responsible for what we do or not do.”

Facing reality, democrats must learn and understand the world in which they live. Learn to imagine, to create, and to apply positive thinking as Buddha preached. Critical thinking does not mean criticizing someone for something, but assessing our actions and behavior to determine whether they have brought us closer to our goals. Rather than fueling racism against the Vietnamese immigrants in Cambodia, democrats should re-examine and introduce reforms to Cambodia’s existing immigration policy. As the late King Father once said, the divine placed Khmers and Vietnamese as neighbors eternally, Cambodians cannot pick up their borders and move. It is long past time for democrats to brush up on and apply Buddha’s teachings.

I believe the CPP is incapable of effective reform. Its image is too deeply embedded in the minds of the Cambodian people for the CPP to rebound. To survive, the CPP’s only viable tactic is to divide the opposition. This, it does well. Hun Sen will not cede power, and with each passing day the likelihood that an impartial investigation into the July election results becomes less likely. By attending the opening of the Assembly, international players were, in fact, signaling to the CNRP that the time for work is here. Even if an investigation was now to be launched and the CPP found culpable, Hun Sen would not relinquish power.

In response, the CNRP must remain united and resolute. This is required both to counter the government’s attempts to divide it, and to keep faith with the hundreds of thousands who have cast their lot with this new coalition party as the best hope for themselves and their nation. But at this time, keeping faith with the voters must mean taking the seats in the National Assembly that it has rightly earned. It’s time to work change from the inside, master the levers of power, and train those who will assume leadership after the next election. By remaining outside the Assembly, the CNRP leaves the CPP free reign to introduce laws and projects to its advantage.

These next five years offer the CNRP an opportunity for leadership development and consolidation of political gains across the nation. Building thousands of democratic leaders involves cultivating leadership capacity through training and continuing the leadership’s openness to voices and ideas from those who have been denied that voice for decades. These challenges are formidable, but not insurmountable. When the next election approaches, the CNRP will be ready to take the reins of government, at last.

The AHRC is not responsible for the views shared in this article, which do not necessarily reflect its own.
About the Author:

Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 13 years. He currently lives in the United States. He can be reached at

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Cambodians Refuse to Accept Rigged Elections

Written by Elizabeth Becker, YaleGlobal

Defenders of Thai monarchy busy politicizing

original :


Defenders of Thai monarchy busy politicizing



KYOTO – Lese-majeste convict Surachai Danwattananusorn (aka Surachai Saedan) has been granted a royal pardon and was released from prison on Oct. 4 after serving three years. Surachai was also a leader of a group called Red Siam, formed in the aftermath of the military coup of 2006 that ousted elected government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Surachai was found guilty of offending the monarchy in a series of speeches he gave at the red-shirt protests from 2008 to 2011 and was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison. Currently Thailand, where most Thais claim to have love and respect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has the most severe punishment for lese-majeste in the world.

A large number of red-shirt supporters and rights activists showed up at Bangkok’s Remand Prison to welcome the freedom of Surachai. But he is not the last prisoner charged with lese-majeste. Several of them have still been detained until they admit their guilt in insulting the monarchy; then a royal pardon could be considered.

The situation in Thailand regarding lese-majeste has not improved. Indeed, it has threatened freedom of expression in a country where the monarchy has long dominated Thai political space.

Used lately as a weapon to undermine political opponents, lese-majeste law represents a grand burden on Thai democratization. State agencies have played a role in aggravating the lese-majeste situation, supposedly to display their loyalty to the monarchy.

For example, the Thai Foreign Ministry has recently shifted its orientation from promoting good relations with foreign countries to defending the monarchy at all cost. Since the military coup of 2006, almost all Thai state agencies have been immensely politicized. The Foreign Ministry is no exception.

The situation worsened following the advent of new Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, former ambassador and a known anti-Thaksin figure. Kasit embarked on prioritizing the need to protect the monarchy from criticisms among those who lived outside Thailand. It was not surprising considering the alliance Kasit had forged with the royal establishment.

However, what is more startling is the fact that the Yingluck Shinawatra government has also endorsed a pro-monarchy policy. This is reflected in the current foreign policy that targets those criticizing the monarchy, Thais or foreigners, abroad.

For a while now, the Foreign Ministry has set up a unit within the Information Department designed to monitor those who live outside Thailand who may violate the lese-majeste law. The Foreign Ministry has created its own “blacklist” in which the alleged violators of lese-majeste law will be charged once they set foot in Thailand.

Possibly once a month, the unit, led by the director general of the Information Department, holds an internal meeting with the army in order to discuss strategies in the protection of the monarchy, compare their blacklists and, most importantly, determine who to be charged and how. The process of identifying enemies of the monarchy is somewhat confidential — they will not know that they are put in the list until they arrive in Thailand.

Quite often, the army’s representatives are more anxious to press charges against any enemies abroad. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry is a little more cautious about the process, recognizing that “once it ties the knot, it will have to explain this to the outside world.”

Typically the meeting between the Foreign Ministry and the army covers discussions on any upcoming events overseas which are related to the monarchy and following the movements of the so-called enemies of monarchy abroad.

On many occasions, representatives of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) are invited to participate in the discussions. Their presence is important, not only in providing intelligence information but also in creating “myths” about anti-monarchy movements outside Thailand.

For example, the Foreign Ministry and the army rely heavily on information from the NIA regarding anti-monarchy movements in the United States.

When respected Thai history professor Thongchai Winichakul of the University of Wisconsin-Madison became the first Thai to head the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), a former director of the NIA produced a public article in Thai to connect the existence of anti-monarchy movements in the U.S. with Thongchai’s AAS presidency.

It was also alleged that American anti-monarchy lobbyists worked intimately with the AAS to turn this academic platform into an organization that aims to overthrow the Thai monarchy. On top of this, the NIA linked a particular panel at the previous AAS Meeting in San Diego on “The Monarchy in Post-Bhumibol Thailand” with the alleged conspiracy in the U.S.

Accordingly the Foreign Ministry instructed its embassy in Washington and its consulate in Los Angeles to provide more information and to monitor the AAS closely. A representative from the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles was obviously among the attendees at the San Diego panel and took a lot of photos of panelists. A report on the result of the panel discussion was written and sent back to the Foreign Ministry headquarters on Sri Ayutthaya Road. Some panelists have been put on the list. One may never know when any charges will be made against them.

At this critical juncture in Thailand which has undergone a deep political polarization, instead of de-politicizing issues related to the monarchy, state agencies have done the opposite. Thai diplomats have been told to defend the royal institution fiercely, even when they have to lie, cover up and twist facts. The battle against critics of the monarchy is likely to become more brutal as Thailand approaches the end of the current reign.

อจ.ตุ้ม กับดร.ปวิน อินแอล.เอ. :ถกทางแก้สิทธิมนุษยชนไทย

อจ.ตุ้ม กับดร.ปวิน อินแอล.เอ. :ถกทางแก้สิทธิมนุษยชนไทย


วันพุธ, ตุลาคม 16, 2556

อจ.ตุ้ม กับดร.ปวิน อินแอล.เอ. :ถกทางแก้สิทธิมนุษยชนไทย

รายงานโดย ระยิบ เผ่ามโน
อจ.ตุ้มยืนยันไทยมีหลักการสิทธิมนุษยชนสากลแล้วในรัฐธรรมนูญครบทั้ง ๕ ภาคส่วน แต่กลับสร้างกรอบพิเศษของวัฒนธรรมแบบไทยๆ ขึ้นมาละเมิดหลักการเหล่านั้น ดร.ปวินเสริมว่าปัญหาสิทธิมนุษยชนในไทยเกิดจากหลักการสิทธิมนุษยชนเป็นแนวคิดที่แปลกแยกต่อระบบชนชั้นที่ยังฝังรากลึกในสังคมไทย
ด้านทางแก้ อจ.ตุ้มแนะให้ปลูกฝังจิตสำนึกแห่งสิทธิมนุษยชนนับแต่ระดับครอบครัวเป็นต้นไป ต้องหลุดพ้นจากการดูถูก แบ่งแยก และข่มเหงผู้อื่น ส่วนดร.ปวินบอกว่าต้องสร้างวัฒนธรรมแบบใหม่ที่ประชาชนพึ่งตนเองในการรักษาสิทธิ กับต้องทำให้กลุ่มประชาสังคม-เอ็นจีโอมีความเข้มแข็ง และมีจิตสำนึกในการปกป้องสิทธิมนุษยชนมากขึ้น
เมื่อราวเที่ยงวันที่ ๑๓ ตุลาคม ๒๕๕๖ (ตามเวลาท้องที่) ในมหานครลอส แองเจลีส ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน ณ นครซาน ฟรานซิสโก จัดให้มีการสัมมนาปัญหาสิทธิมนุษยชนไทยโดยสองนักวิชาการชาวไทยผู้เป็นที่รู้จักดีในหมู่ชาวไทยที่รักประชาธิปไตย คือ รองศาสตราจารย์ ดร.สุดสงวน สุธีสร หรือที่เรียกกันติดปากว่า อาจารย์ตุ้ม แห่งคณะสังคมวิทยา มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์ กับรองศาสตราจารย์ ดร.ปวิน ชัชวาลพงศ์พันธ์ แห่งศูนย์ศึกษาเอเซียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้ มหาวิทยาลัยเกียวโต โดยมี ดร.เพียงดิน รักไทย แห่งมหาวิทยาลัยเบิร์กลี่ย์ แคลิฟอร์เนีย เป็นผู้ดำเนินการอภิปราย
รายการเสวนาเริ่มขึ้นหลังจากรับประทานอาหารกลางวันร่วมกันแล้ว คุณพอล ภูวดล พิธีกรนำเข้าสู่การเสวนาในภาคภาษาอังกฤษ โดย ดร.เพียงดิน รักไทย เป็นผู้กล่าวถ้อยแถลงในนามของภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน หรือชื่อทางการว่า Thai Alliance for Human Rights (TAHR) โดยชี้แจงถึงการทำงานเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชนโดยองค์กรนี้ในการประสานกับองค์กรสิทธิมนุษยชนนานาชาติ แต่เน้นที่การติดตาม และตรวจสอบเรื่องสิทธิมนุษยชนในประเทศไทยเป็นสำคัญ
ดร.เพียงดินยังได้รายงานความคืบหน้าของการจัดประกวด บทความเข้าแข่งขันชิงรางวัลชนะเลิศ ๑ แสนบาทโดยภาคีไทยฯ ซึ่งมีผู้ส่งผลงานเข้าประกวดแล้วกว่า ๓๐ ราย หากแต่ทางภาคีฯ มีผู้แสดงความจำนงอุปถัมภ์รางวัลแก่ผู้ชนะการแข่งขันนี้เป็นจำนวนมาก โดยเฉพาะรางวัลชมเชยจำนวนเงิน ๓,๐๐๐ บาทไทยมีถึง ๒๐ รางวัล ส่วนรางวัลชนะเลิศ ๑ แสนบาทนั้น อดีตนายกรัฐมนตรี พ.ต.ท. ดร.ทักษิณ ชินวัตร เป็นผู้อุปถัมภ์
ด้วยเหตุนี้ทางภาคีฯ จึงยืดเวลารับผลงานออกไปอีกจนถึงสิ้นเดือนพฤษจิกายน โดยกำหนดการตัดสินตามหลักเกณฑ์ที่วางไว้แต่เดิมในปลายปีนี้ แล้วจะประกาศผลในงานส่งท้ายปีเก่าของภาคีตอนสิ้นปี ๒๕๕๖
ดร.ปวิน ขึ้นกล่าวเป็นคนต่อไปได้เพียงสองสามนาฑีก็มีโทรศัพท์จาก ดร.จรัล ดิษฐาอภิชัย ประธานจัดงาน ๔๐ ปี ๑๔ ตุลา เพื่อประชาธิปไตยสมบูรณ์ ในประเทศไทย ตามที่นัดหมายไว้ เนื้อความในการโฟนอินของดร.จรัลเป็นเวลาประมาณ ๑๕ นาฑี กล่าวถึงอุดมการณ์ ๑๔ ตุลา เพื่อประชาธิปไตยเป็นหลักใหญ่
จากนั้น ดร.ปวินกลับมาแถลงต่อ โดยมีเนื้อหาตรงกับการเสวนาในภาคภาษาไทยที่ปรากฏในบทความนี้ตอนท้าย เช่นเดียวกับที่ ดร.สุดสงวน ขึ้นมาแถลงในภาคภาษาอังกฤษ ต่อด้วยตัวแทนผู้สนับสนุนอุดมการณ์ ๑๔ ตุลา ในท้องที่ลอส แองเจลีส ขึ้นกล่าวแสดงการรำลึกเหตุการณ์ ๑๔ ตุลาคม ๒๕๑๖ และ ๖ ตุลาคม ๒๕๑๙ ตามด้วยการเชื้อเชิญให้ผู้ร่วมงานจำนวนร้อยกว่าคนจุดเทียนสดุดี ด้วยการยืนสงบนิ่งเป็นเวลา ๑ นาฑีโดยพร้อมเพรียงกัน
การเสวนาเริ่มด้วย ดร.เพียงดิน ตั้งคำถามแก่สองวิทยากรถึงความหมาย และขอบข่ายแห่งสิทธิมนุษยชนสากลที่อนุสนธิ์กับสภาพสิทธิมนุษยชนแบบไทยๆ อันเป็นปัญหา พร้อมทั้งขอความเห็นเป็นทางออกเพื่อให้ประเทศไทยได้มีการปฏิบัติเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชนอย่างสมบูรณ์
อจ.ตุ้มกล่าวว่าหลักสิทธิมนุษยชนในปฏิญญาสากล ๓๐ ข้อนั้นมีบรรจุอยู่ในรัฐธรรมนูญของไทยครบถ้วนแล้ว โดยกระจายกันอยู่ใน ๕ หมู่ ได้แก่ ด้านสิทธิพลเมือง ด้านสังคม ด้านวัฒนธรรม ด้านเศรษฐกิจ และด้านการเมือง-การปกครอง แต่เมืองไทยเรากลับสร้างกรอบของตนเองเสียใหม่ทั้งในทางกฏหมาย กลไก (ระเบียบปฏิบัติ) และวัฒนธรรม เลยกลับกลายเป็นการละเมิดหลักการต้นตำรับไป
ดร.สุดสงวน สุธีสร เสนอทางออกคร่าวๆ เพื่อปรับแก้การปฏิบัติเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชนในประเทศไทยว่า คนไทยควรที่จะเปลี่ยนจิตสำนึกเกี่ยวกับบุคคลกันเสียใหม่ การแบ่งพวก การดูถูกผู้อื่น และการข่มเหงกันและกันนั้นต้องเลิกคิดอย่างเด็ดขาด แล้วสร้างจิตสำนึกในทางบวกมาแทนที่ โดยเริ่มชี้แนะ และปลูกฝังกันจากภายในครอบครัวก่อนเป็นปฐม แล้วจึงขยายออกไปในสังคม ตามด้วยการแก้ไขตัวบทกฏหมาย และปรับการบังคับใช้ต่อไป
สำหรับ ดร.ปวิน ชัชวาลพงศ์พันธ์ นั้น เนื้อหาของการปาฐกถาสรุปได้เป็นลายลักษณ์อักษรดังนี้
๑.     อะไรคือ ‘สิทธิมนุษยชน’
สิทธิมนุษยชนมีหน้าที่สำคัญสองประการ ได้แก่ เป็นกลไกหนึ่งในการช่วยจัดระเบียบทางวัฒนธรรม และสังคม ที่ใดประชาชนตระหนักถึง และปฏิบัติเคร่งครัดในการเคารพสิทธิมนุษยชนซึ่งกันและกัน ย่อมนำไปสู่การสร้างระเบียบอันสถาพรในชาติ กับก่อให้เกิดสันติในหมู่ปวงชน ลดความขัดแย้งในสังคมโดยรวมได้อย่างดี
นอกจากนี้หลักสิทธิมนุษยชนนั้นไม่มีเชื้อชาติ ไม่ต้องการสัญชาติ เพราะมีความเป็นสากลอยู่เต็มเปี่ยมแล้ว พลเมืองทุกคนในประชาคมโลกย่อมได้รับการปกป้องสิทธิส่วนตนเสมอภาคกัน อันเป็นการตอกย้ำความเท่าเทียมของแต่ละบุคคลในสังคมที่ไม่มีการเลือกปฏิบัติ
ประเทศไทยของเรายังมีปัญหาเกี่ยวกับการละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชนอยู่มากมาย ในโสตหนึ่งมีเหตุมาจากหลักการสิทธิมนุษยชนสากลเป็นแนวคิดที่แปลกแยก และซ้ำร้ายเป็นศัตรูกับระบบชนชั้นที่ฝังรากลึกอยู๋ในสังคมไทย แม้นว่าเรามีกลุ่มประชาสังคม กับองค์กรพลเรือน หรือเอ็นจีโอ แต่ว่ากลุ่มเหล่านี้กลับทำตนเป็นตัวแทน และเป็นปากเสียงให้แก่ชนชั้นนำในสังคมไทยไปเสียฉิบ
นั่นเป็นเหตุให้ประชาชนทั่วไปไม่ได้ให้ความสนใจต่อหลักสิทธิมนุษยชนกันมากนัก แถมองค์กรซึ่งมีหน้าที่โดยตรงตามรัฐธรรมนูญในการดูแลเรื่องนี้ นั่นคือคณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ (กสม.) โดยเฉพาะ ศจ. ดร.อมรา พงศาพิชญ์ ประธานกรรมการเองก็ไม่ได้ประพฤติไปในทางที่เป็นปากเป็นเสียงให้แก่ประชาชนทั่วไป จึงนับว่า กสม. ประสบความล้มเหลวอย่างสิ้นเชิงในภารกิจของตน
๒.     ความเป็นไทยกับสิทธิมนุษยชน
คนจำนวนไม่น้อยมองว่าความเป็นไทยเป็นมรดกตกทอดเฉพาะตัว ติดต่อกันมาหลายชั่วอายุคน จนกลายเป็นข้อกำหนดบังคับพฤติกรรมของสมาชิกสังคมให้อยู่แต่ในกรอบเดิมๆ คร่ำครึ ประจวบกับระบบอำนาจนิยมผูกขาดในสังคมไทยที่มีวัฒนธรรมแบบบังคับประชาชนให้ต้องพึ่งพาชนชั้นนำ ทำให้การส่งเสริมสิทธิมนุษยชนในบริบทถูกต้องตามสากลเป็นไปได้ยาก ประเทศไทยไม่เคยให้ความสำคัญในภาคประชาชนแก่ความมั่นคงแห่งมนุษย์อย่างจริงจังเลย
ปัญหาการละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชนในประเทศไทยที่ปรากฏอย่างชัดเจนในกรอบการเมืองนั้นก็คือ ประเด็นกฏหมายอาญา มาตรา ๑๑๒ หรือที่รู้จักกันแพร่หลายทั่วโลกในนามกฏหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพพระมหากษัตริย์ ซึ่งยังถูกใช้เป็นเครื่องมือห้ำหั่นกันทางการเมืองอย่างป่าเถื่อน และต่อเนื่อง มีการจับกุมคุมขังผู้เห็นต่างทางการเมือง ไม่ยอมให้ประกันตัวสู้คดี แล้วยังมักตัดสินจำคุกอย่างน้อยสามปี อย่างดีถึงยี่สิบ ล่าสุดได้มีการนำไปใช้เป็นเครื่องมือล้างแค้นต่อกันเป็นส่วนตัว ล้วนเป็นการละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชนอย่างโจ่งแจ้ง
๓.     ก้าวต่อไปควรทำอย่างไร
ดร.ปวินบอกว่าจำเป็นต้องสร้างวัฒนธรรมแบบใหม่ขึ้น เป็นวัฒนธรรมที่ประชาชนต้องพึ่งตนเองเป็นหลักใหญ่ ไม่ใช่การพึ่งพาบารมี หรือรอคอยการยื่นให้จากชนชั้นนำ ควรต้องปลูกฝังความคิดอิสระในหมู่คนรุ่นใหม่ให้รู้จักรักษาสิทธิของตนเองเป็นสรณะ
ในแง่ของกฏหมายก็ถึงเวลาแล้วจะต้องพิจารณาแก้ไขตัวบทกฏหมายที่ล้าหลัง และไม่เป็นธรรม อย่างกฏหมายอาญา มาตรา ๑๑๒ ทั้งนี้เพราะประชาชนไม่อาจมุ่งหวังความช่วยเหลือจาก กสม. และไม่สามารถเรียกร้องความเป็นธรรมจากตุลาการได้
นอกจากนี้ควรต้องมีการสร้างความเข้มแข็งให้กับกลุ่มประชาสังคม และกลุ่มเอ็นจีโอ พร้อมทั้งผ่าตัดเปลี่ยนสำนึกองค์กรเอกชนทั้งหลายให้ยืนหยัดอยู่กับการปกป้องสิทธิมนุษยชนมากขึ้น ดร.ปวินกล่าวว่าเหล่านี้ถ้าทำได้สำเร็จไม่เพียงแต่จะยกระดับสิทธิมนุษยชนในประเทศไทยให้ทัดเทียมนานาชาติได้เท่านั้น มันยังเป็นส่วนสำคัญอันหนึ่งในการพัฒนาประชาธืปไตยไทยให้สมบูรณ์ต่อไปได้ด้วย
เสร็จจากการเสวนาของสามวิทยากรแล้ว ได้มีการประกาศตัวคณะกรรมการบริหารชุดใหม่ของภาคีฯ และมอบใบประกาศเกียรติคุณแก่ผู้อุปการะ ปิดท้ายงานด้วยการปราศรัยของประธานคณะกรรมการอำนวยการของภาคีฯ นายเอนก ชัยชนะ
หมายเหตุ ท่านที่สนใจฟังการถ่ายทอดรายการทั้งหมด กรุณาดาวน์โหลดได้ที่ งานเสวนาปัญหาสิทธิมนุษยชนไทย นครลอส แองเจลีส ๑๓ ตุลาคม ๒๕๕๖   ความยาวประมาณ ๔ ชั่วโมงครึ่ง mp3 size 31,622 Kb length 04:29:49

SRI LANKA: An interview with Dr. Navi Pillay

SRI LANKA: An interview with Dr. Navi Pillay


September 30, 2013

An interview with Dr. Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights by Lateline published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

(The AHRC is reproducing below the transcript of an interview with Dr. Navi Pillay by Ms. Emma Alberici of Lateline):

EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Our guest tonight is Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

She was born and raised in South Africa where she rose to become the first non-white female judge of the high court. She’s also served as a judge of the International Criminal Court and president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

She has just returned from a week-long visit to Sri Lanka. Navi Pillay is the most senior UN official to visit the north since Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2009.

She joins us now from UN headquarters in New York. Navi Pillay we’re so pleased you could be with us.

NAVI PILLAY, UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: Good evening and thank you for having me Emma.

EMMA ALBERICI: During your fact finding mission to Sri Lanka, did the Tamils feel free and safe to tell you their stories?

NAVI PILLAY: Let me say regularly how pleased I was that the Sri Lankan Government did not place any obstacles in my seeing whoever I wished to, going wherever I went to. And that enabled me to meet both Tamil and Sinhalese communities both sides lost family – sons, husbands, fathers. Both families from both sides just wept and asked for my help in tracing their relatives.

EMMA ALBERICI: What did they tell you about what life has been like in the four years since the end of the civil war?

NAVI PILLAY: The Tamils in particular in the north have huge complaints. For instance they feel completely threatened by the very heavy military presence there, the military have been positioned over Tamil lands, so that’s the seconds complaint that lands have been taken away.

I met about 700 people in IDP camps, all of them has been fishing folk or planted rice on paddy fields and their lands have been confiscated without compensation, some of them said that the military have built their structures over that.

Huge levels of insecurity, fear, surveillance and I saw that for myself. People whom I’d interview such as a Jesuit priest, a Christian father were immediately visited by the military even while I was still in the country and I complained to the Government about this.

EMMA ALBERICI: What evidence did you specifically uncover that led you to express deep concern that the Government of Sri Lanka was heading toward what you called “authoritarian rule”?

NAVI PILLAY: What concerned me is that previously there were various independent commissions and it was the commissions who made recommendations on who should be sitting as judges, who should be sitting on Electoral Commissions and so on and these commissions have been disbanded and all the selection now is in the hands of the President himself.

He recently created new ministry of law and order and he’s placed that under him in the presidency, similarly defence is under the presidency.

I’m also concerned that NGOs now have to undergo a registration system and that goes through the defence and obviously under the presidency so these are the authoritarian trends I was concerned about in a country that calls itself a socialist democracy, these just are totally inappropriate.

EMMA ALBERICI: This week you criticised Sri Lankans for not properly investigating allegations of war crimes during the country’s civil war. You said that if they didn’t show progress on this by March of next year that the international community would have to establish its own inquiry. That has already drawn a rebuke from Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the UN, so what happens next?

NAVI PILLAY: Let me say that all this stems from the commission set up by the Sri Lankan Government itself, called the LLRC, the lessons learnt, and the rehabilitation committee. It’s their own committee who made various recommendations including the investigation of crimes, during the conflict, and justice for victim, reparation for victims and memorial to be erected for all those who lost their lives.

And this is where the human rights council comes in, they have urged Sri Lanka to implement their own recommendations and I then reported to the council that that has not happened. Now, the LLRC recommendations fall short of our expectations on what should be done for proper accountability.

Nevertheless, they have not fulfilled even their own recommendations, I view this with some seriousness and this is why I am urging the human rights council to consider that if implementation is not carried out, say, by March next year when I will filing my further report, then the council should consider credible international investigations.

EMMA ALBERICI: Now, some of your concerns about Sri Lanka specifically where you talk about Tamils telling you of their fear and insecurity, those sorts of reports are at odds with what Australia’s own Immigration Minister found when he visited the north himself six months ago.

He said Tamils were most likely seeking asylum in Australia, not for fear of persecution but rather than they were looking for better job, a change in lifestyle?

NAVI PILLAY: I just heard your news report just before your program, Emma and here, there we heard a very public transparent harassment and violence against a candidate who eventually won in those elections. Now if something can happen where in the eye of the public you can imagine how much more is happening.

I have spoken to actual victims, I did not – I went with an open mind, I wanted to hear from the people themselves so definitely there are huge grounds for fear, people are disappearing, journalists, activists, NGOs are being harassed. These have to be investigated and stopped.

I would urge Australia and particularly the immigration department, to review each case on its merits, when they’re looking at a refugee or an aslyum seeker. and not follow the Government statement on this.

EMMA ALBERICI: More than 1,000 people from Sri Lanka have already been sent back by the Australian Government, that’s the previous Australian Government. They say they couldn’t find any evidence to justify claims of persecution. Do you think that’s likely to be because the situation has improved dramatically over the past four years or could it be because the Sri Lankan authorities have become better at covering up their misdeeds?

NAVI PILLAY: The Sri Lankan Government is justly proud of all the reconstruction, the building of roads, and other physical structures that they’ve put in place. These are obviously of benefit and it’s very visible improvement in the north, that with the help of other Governments including Australia, including the United Nations, they were able to achieve a physical reconstruction.

But that is totally incomplete if you do not address the human rights situation, address the concerns of people and this is not the image then that Australia should take on board when they’re looking at refugees. According convention on refugees, the 1951 convention to which Australia is a party, there has to be an individual case by case review of refugees and aslyum seekers.

For instance, when I was in Australia, in 2011, and visited the detention centres, I found a sizeable number of Sri Lankan refugees being held there, there was a group being held indefinitely, allegedly because of security concerns, now that is a cause for concern in August this year, the human rights committee ruled against Australia on this and requested Australia to release those detainees.

EMMA ALBERICI: Just today our very new Prime Minister Tony Abbott has expressed the hope that aslyum seekers that arrive by boats would be no more than a passing irritant for his Government and for the Indonesians. How do you feel about a world leader describing aslyum seekers as irritants?

NAVI PILLAY: I am deeply concerned by statements such as that because they promote a stigmatisation of a whole group of people and totally against the vision and concept of the convention on refugees to which Australia is a party.

Australia is actually known for having provided sanctuary and safety for many refugees, from the region and other parts of the world, Australia is known for readily rescuing people who are in distress, in boats that are unsafe and against this good record I am appalled at statements such as this which justify discrimination against a whole group, a minority group, people who are coming to Australia, because conditions in their own countries are unbearable.

And let me emphasise again – these are poor marginalised men, women and children who are seeking safety in Australia, they should be rehabilitated and will be of benefit, migrants, refugees, must be seen for the value they can add to a country, rather than as some kind of irritants or toxic waste.

EMMA ALBERICI: Is it though not legitimate for a Government to want to protect its formal immigration processes including an orderly humanitarian intake?

NAVI PILLAY: This is what the refugee convention is about. It understands the legitimate interest of a country, of Australia and Government, the Australian people, that they’re not flooded with refugees, I know that in every state nationals are very wary that their jobs are being taken away by immigrants or migrants which actually is not factually correct.

Nevertheless there is that fear I understand then that Governments do have to protect their own citizens against an influx of outsiders, but international human rights standards must be observed at all times, because these are human beings we are dealing with, they’re entitled to fundamental rights and one of them is individual screening to understand their situation and obviously no indefinite detention of people on so-called security grounds which the human rights committee has ruled against Australia in August.

EMMA ALBERICI: Finally, the intergovernmental panel on climate change which reported just in the past hours, says it’s now 95 per cent certain that global warming is a result of human activity. What to you is the most urgent human rights challenge that that presents?

NAVI PILLAY: Let me say as High Commissioner for Human Rights how concerned I am that it is the poorest women, men and children who are most affected by climate change, who have least contributed to the causes of climate change, who have the weakest voices and the least influence on policies and this is one of the rights I espouse which is the human rights of participation and consultation.

The protection of their rights must be paramount in all climate change policies. In the islands around Australia, there is deep concern, in Fiji, Kiribati for instance where they have identified hundreds of communities who will be affected by climate change.

EMMA ALBERICI: Navi Pillay we’ve run out of time. I thank you so much for taking your time to speak to us.

NAVI PILLAY: Thank you Emma.


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