Dr Tajing Siripanit, a commissioner from the Thai National Human Rights Commission, stated on NBT television at 13.30 on 4th April 2010 that the military-backed government “would be justified in using force” against the peaceful pro-democracy Red Shirt protestors “because they were disrupting shopping” in the centre of Bangkok. In fact, the Red Shirts are not blocking the pedestrian entrances to any shopping centers.
Previously, the National Human Rights Commission remained quiet about the fascist-PAD blockade of the international airports in 2008 and the 2006 military coup. They have remained silent about the use of lèse majesté against government critics and they are silent on the censorship of the media. Many members of the National Human Rights Commission are PAD supporters.
This is an example of what the Red Shirts mean when they say that the “independent bodies” are staffed by military junta appointees. This is why we need immediate fresh elections and the abolition of the military Constitution.
Most Thai NGOs, who repeatedly called for the democratically elected Peoples Power (Red Shirt) government to use restraint against the PAD protestors in 2008, have remained silent before the present government’s threats to use force against Red Shirt protestors who are maintaining peaceful protests in the streets. They have also supported the military-backed government’s refusal to call immediate fresh elections. Some NGOs have said that local community rights issues need to be sorted out first before elections, as though community rights and democracy had nothing to do with each other! Amnesty International in Thailand has PAD supporters on its staff and so AI has refused to take up lèse majesté prisoners as prisoners of conscience.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a Thai socialist, currently in exile in the U.K. His latest book Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy will be published in April 2010.