Monday, 22 February 2016

Bring justice, no one should escape accountability for the 2010 violence

London, 22 February 2016 - Thailand Human Rights Campaign UK (THRC UK) is deeply concerned by the ongoing politicization of efforts to pursue justice. Thai government has not prosecuted those responsible for the 2010 political violence

On 17 February 2016, The Appeals Court has dismissed  the case against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban brought against them for the deadly Military crackdown of red-shirt protesters in 2010.

At least 98 people lost their lives and more than 2,000 were injured when the military dispersed the red shirt protesters after weeks of rallies in central Bangkok. The protesters were calling for the resignation of Abhisit’s government and a new election.






According to Human Rights Watch's report  "Thailand’s 2010 Red Shirt Protests and the Government Crackdown",  Thai army caused many deaths and injuries during the 2010 crack down. The high numbers of casualties including unarmed demonstrations, volunteer medics and first responsders, reporters, and photographers -resulted in part from enforcement of " live fire zones" around the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protest site in Bangkok. Thai army deployed sharpshooters and snipers. 



The dismissal means that any accountability on the army’s part is very unlikely, especially under the military junta. Its leader, army chief and Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha was deputy commander-in-chief during the 2010 crackdown and since becoming army chief a year later he has actively interfered in the DSI’s investigation.

The charge against Abhisit and Suthep was filed in late 2012 by police, prosecutors and the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) on the latter’s recommendation and followed a growing number of court rulings saying that protesters were killed by bullets fired by soldiers. 

The DSI chief Tharit Pengdit, who reportedly apologized to Prayuth for the accusations back then, was removed from his post shortly following the military coup.

The Appeals Court reasoned that Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep issued the crackdown order in their capacity as prime minister and deputy prime minister in charge of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) in order to restore peace and order in the country. The Appeals court said they issued crackdown orders not as individuals but as authorised officials empowered by laws.

The Appeals Court then said that the National Anti Corruption Commission  ( NACC) should handle the investigation of the case when power abuses were alleged to be involved, and not the Department of Special Investigation which has no authority.


Background

The murder charge against former Prime Minister Abhisit Abhisit and his then-Deputy PM Suthep was filed in late 2012 by police, prosecutors and the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) on the latter’s recommendation and followed a growing number of court rulings saying that protesters were killed by bullets fired by soldiers.

Suthep, who was in charge of national security and thus tasked with overseeing the security situation during the protests as director of the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES), authorized security forces to disperse the protests back in 2010 (including the use of deadly force) and has since then repeatedly rejected any responsibility or blame for the deaths of the protesters. At one point he even suggested that they “ran into the bullets”. In late 2013, he quit Abhisit’s Democrat Party and became an unlikely protest leader against the government of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (who the red shirts support).

On 22 May 2014, the Thai military staged its second coup d’état in eight years and assumed full control of the country after several months of political turmoil and street protests.

Three months after the military seized power from Abhisit's political rivals.

0n 28 August 2014, according to Reuters  "Thai court dismisses murder charges against former PM, deputy ", the court said it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case because the two men held public office at the time of the protest. “The court has no jurisdiction to consider the case because the two were a prime minister and deputy prime minister,” a judge said . “The charges relate to political office holders. The criminal court therefore dismisses the charges.”

On  29 December 2015, The NACC voted 7-0 in favour of Mr Abhisit, Mr Suthep and Gen Anupong, who were then part of the defunct Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) which handled the government's response to the protests. 
NACC secretary-general Sansern Poljeak said the panel agreed it was necessary for the three officials to order soldiers to carry weapons during the operation to reclaim demonstration sites as some demonstrators were armed. 

The junta government clearly is not serious about using justice as a foundation for the rule of law or political reconciliation. No one responsible for serious abuses during the 2010 violence – including soldiers and their commanders.

THRC UK  calls on the international community, both governmental and private, to pay attention, to press Thailand to bring justice for the 2010 violence.

Click here to download the file


Share this

0 Comment to "Bring justice, no one should escape accountability for the 2010 violence"

Post a comment