Thailand’s bogus human rights report
By Asia Sentinel 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.
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.