Monthly Archives: July 2013

108 เหตุผล ทำไมต้องนิรโทษกรรมนักโทษการเมือง2/2 26 7 2013


108 เหตุผล ทำไมต้องนิรโทษกรรมนักโทษการเมือง2/2 26 7 2013

Thailand’s international human rights obligations in question

By Carlos Fernandez Torne, New Mandala 24 July 2013


Much has been written about two amnesty bills tabled by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung and by Samut Prakan MP Worachai Hema. The Chalerm bill would reportedly offer a blanket amnesty to those involved in political unrest, from the 2006 military coup to the 2010 crackdown on the red shirts, including State authorities responsible for the crackdown on protesters. On the other hand, the Worachai bill would offer amnesty to people being investigated for, or convicted of, crimes related to political violence. However, it would not cover protest leaders or those who ordered the use of force to quell the protests.

While many have discussed about the expressed or hidden aims behind both bills, not much analysis has been done from an international human rights law perspective. In this regard, the current political scenario should not eclipse what is at stake: the passing of an amnesty that could lead to the removal of criminal liability for perpetrators of gross violations of human rights.

In the first place, amnesties do have a place under international law. The legality of an amnesty depends on the crime for which the amnesty is being granted. In Thailand people were charged and prosecuted for defying an emergency decree during political protests. There have been discussions to grant amnesty to such rally goers. However, the stronger tendency is for political leaders to attempt to shield themselves against the possibility of future prosecutions.

The factual evidence collected by the Truth for Reconciliation Commission for Thailand (TRCT), and other reports from international NGOs, suggest that the excessive use of force by the military led to the deaths of unarmed demonstrators during the 2010 political violence. Criminal courts have already concluded that the military was responsible for the killing of civilians.

Key human rights provisions, such as the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life, remain in force even in times of public emergency that threatens the life of the nation. The killing of unarmed civilians by law enforcement officials would amount to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, which is considered a gross violation of human rights under international law.

On the other hand, the State’s failure to adequately investigate and prosecute patterns of killings carried out by private individuals during the 2010 political violence would also amount to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The reason being that they would imply an acquiescence of the State with the killings committed.

In both scenarios we are talking about the perpetration of gross violations of human rights. And what does international law say concerning the granting of amnesties for gross violations of human rights?

Mainly that amnesties are not permissible on the grounds that victims have a right to an effective remedy and States have a duty to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of gross violations of human rights.

The right to an effective remedy is recognized under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a State party. Article 2.3 compels State parties to ensure that, in case of violation of the rights enshrined in the Covenant, individuals have accessible and effective remedies to vindicate these rights. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, that monitors the implementation of the ICCPR, has stated that in case of serious violations of human rights, particularly concerning the right to life, disciplinary and administrative actions do not constitute an effective remedy within the meaning of the article 2.3. Confronted with such violations, the right to an effective remedy entails recourse to criminal proceedings.

However, according to the Human Rights Committee, the ICCPR does not provide private individuals with the right to force the State to prosecute another person, leaving the decision of whether or not to prosecute to the State. On the basis of this reasoning, some have played down the reach of the right to an effective remedy arguing that its primary function would be to ensure the right of victims of human rights violations to compensation rather than to prosecution.

But the Human Rights Committee has also made it clear that the decision of whether or not to prosecute has to be made after State parties take effective steps to thoroughly investigate human rights violations and, where there is evidence, the duty to prosecute those deemed responsible for such violations arises. Hence, the right of the victim to an effective remedy does carry an obligation for the State to investigate and to prosecute.

Notwithstanding this debate, there is an indisputable move at the international level towards closing the gaps that would allow perpetrators of gross human rights violations to get off scot-free. For example, the United Nations (UN) updated its policy Set of Principles to combat impunity in 2005, expanding the prohibition to grant amnesty to perpetrators of gross violations of human rights. Another important document, the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006, provides that in case of gross violations of human rights States have the duty to investigate and, if there is sufficient evidence, the duty to prosecute and, if found guilty, the duty to punish the perpetrators. The UN policy on amnesties is built upon the realization that justice and peace are not contradictory but that properly pursued, they promote and sustain each other.

Back to Thailand, the TRCT noted in its final report that those who violated the law must be held legally accountable and that the Government must address violations of law by all parties through the justice system. The TRCT further stated that rushing the granting of an amnesty to perpetrators would have a negative impact on the reconciliation atmosphere. Most importantly, it called for the collaboration, especially from the victims, as they will be directly affected by an amnesty.

Relatives of victims killed during the 2010 political violence have raised their voices to oppose the two amnesty bills. They opposed the Chalerm bill because it would benefit all involved in the unrest, including the military, but disregard the dead victims. They also opposed the Worachai bill, as it absolves the soldiers who fired at the people. Alternatively victims proposed to free ordinary people convicted of political offenses committed during the 2010 unrest from jail, excluding protest leaders, those who ordered the use of force and soldiers who carried them out. This proposal appears fairly in line with international law and the United Nations policy on amnesties.

Once the Parliament reconvenes in August and starts discussing the bills it should make sure that any proposed amnesty explicitly excludes those who committed gross violations of human rights.  MPs might need to recognize that Thailand’s international obligations are at stake, in addition to those to victims at home.

Carlos Fernandez Torne is a PhD candidate at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

BURMA: Police torture of gay and transgendered people

June22, 2013

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

BURMA: Police torture of gay and transgendered people

The Asian Human Rights Commission has been following with concern news of the police targeting of gay and transgendered people in Burma, or Myanmar, and has recently obtained detailed information on a number of cases of alleged arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of persons on the grounds of sexual orientation. The AHRC is troubled both by the manner in which this minority group appears to have been deliberately targeted by the police, and by the implications of these police abuses not only for the rights of minorities in democratizing Burma, but also for the rights of all people living there.

According to recent news reports, police in Mandalay have been conducting an operation against gay and transgendered people who have been congregating in certain public places in the city. Although the police claim that they are simply removing from certain areas anyone found to be causing a disturbance to the public, from all accounts it is clear that they have been specifically targeting gay and transgendered people.

For instance, on 7 July 2013 a group of around 20 ununiformed men—some police, others local administrators or other unidentified persons—descended on the area outside the Sedona Hotel in Mandalay and assaulted a group of gay and transgendered people there, pushing, hitting, handcuffing them and pulling off their garments in public before loading them on to a number of vehicles. Once in custody, police continued to abuse the group of 11 detainees, hitting and kicking them constantly, stripping them naked in the public areas of the Mandalay Regional Police headquarters, photographing them, forcing them to hop like frogs, forcing them to clean shoes and tables, to walk up and down as if on a catwalk, uttering obscenities at them, and otherwise physically and psychologically demeaning them. One of those detained said that a police officer interrogated her at length about her sexual activities and preferences, where she usually hangs out, and later tried to lure her to come back with him after leaving the police station.

Although many of those detained are later being released without charge, some have been threatened with, and others charged under, the 1945 Police Act, section 35(c), which stipulates that, “Any person found between sunset and sunrise having his face covered or otherwise disguised, who is unable to give a satisfactory account himself… may be taken into custody by any police-officer without a warrant, and shall be punishable on conviction with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months.” In one case, the details of which have been obtained by the AHRC, two accused each had to pay bribes of around 400,000 Kyat (about USD420) to be released from a case under this section lodged by the police in the Aungmyay-thazan Township Court. They were informed that for a lesser amount of money they could be held for just one week instead of the full three-month period.

Equally disturbing is that some of those who are being released are being forced to sign pledges beforehand that they will not go to public places as before or wear women’s clothing. A police spokesman, Police Major SoeNyein, told one news agency that the police were doing a public service in stopping the community from congregating, and that the police had “released them after educating them and obliging them to sign a pledge” the contents of which were not mentioned (7 Day Daily, 12 July 2013). In another report the same policeman is quoted as saying that, “We had to detain the fags because they were causing a disturbance to passers by at the moat, by doing and saying whatever they like… homosexuality is not in accordance with law. If people complain, we’ll take action” (Irrawaddy Burmese, 19 July 2013).

Not only are such assertions patently against the human rights of the victims of these police attacks, but they are also patently false: no law exists in Burma to prohibit homosexuality, or the congregating of homosexual people in public places, which is why police who pursue them are forced to use obscurely worded sections of antiquated, colonial-era laws under which they effectively act as the arbiters of public morality, distinguishing people who can give “satisfactory accounts” of themselves from those who cannot.

That the police in Burma have the authority to make such ambiguous determinations should be a cause for concern for anyone interested to see the country continue on its democratising path. If the police, who have learned their techniques under military government, have the authority to determine what does or does not constitute a public disturbance then the rights of minorities are going to continue to suffer abuse—both because minorities who assemble in ways that the police do not like, as in Mandalay, can be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention and torture; and, because other gatherings that in fact constitute real, violent threats to public safety, like the mobs formed to attack Muslim shops and houses around the country in 2012 and 2013, are somehow not considered to be in violation of any law.

Indeed, the manner in which the police have cracked down on the transgendered community in Burma during recent weeks closely resembles practices of old against other minorities, in the days that groups of unidentifiable, ununiformed men would appear to drag off political protestors, striking workers or others whom the government deemed to be causing a public disturbance. The forcing of detainees to sign pledges before release too is a longstanding practice used in political cases, one that has no basis in law. And the notion that anyone can be made to stop being gay, any more than they can be made to stop being political, through the use of such techniques is as absurd as it is unlawful.

The accounts of the police abuses of the detainees in these cases also correspond with accounts of police abuses in all types of ordinary criminal cases. Every day, people in Burma are picked up without being told of charges and often without even knowing who is detaining them, let alone why. Many are told to come to police stations just to “answer a few questions” and only once in the premises learn that they are being arrested. After being detained, they are suffer forms of torture like those described in Mandalay: removal of clothes, sexual humiliation, slapping, hitting, forcing to stand or squat in stress positions for prolonged periods—all these are features of cases that the AHRC has documented for many years, and that continue to the present. Frequently, the violence is sufficient to kill the detainee, as in one recently issued appeal (AHRC-UAC-098-2013), and although such deaths inconvenience police, hardly ever is a policeman held criminally liable for what he has done to a person he has in his custody, no matter how egregious. Similarly, the requirement of payments to get out of cases lodged against accused persons is routine practice in all types of criminal cases.In this sense, the protections that minority groups deserve are the same protections that everyone in the country deserves, the abuses they suffer, also the abuses suffered by the general community. In short, the rights of this community not to be tortured or suffer cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, not to be arbitrarily detained or charged with crimes that they have not committed, are the same rights that all people in Burma share in principle but not in practice.

The Asian Human Rights Commissionhas been informed that some of the gay and transgendered people detained and tortured in Mandalay intend to lodge complaints against their abuse with the authorities, including with the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission. It strongly supports the initiative to lodge complaints, and calls on all agencies that receive the complaints to treat them with the utmost seriousness, and to investigate them with a view to having criminal charges lodged against the police responsible for these offences. It also calls on the domestic media and civil society groups for their support for these complaints.

The AHRC also takes this opportunity to call for the government of Myanmar to join the UN Convention against Torture without delay, and pass a law for the prohibition of torture, since only through criminal prosecutions of torturers in accordance with international standards will custodial abuses of the sort that have been going on in Mandalay be brought to a stop. Simultaneously, it urges the legislature to amend the Police Act, section 30(c) and the equivalent section in the Rangoon Police Act, section 30D, so that the police do not have ambiguous and draconian authority with which to detain, abuse and extract money from anyone of their choosing who just happens to be out after dark.

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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.

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ด่วน! เชิญฟังการบรรยายหัวข้อ ความซับซ้อนของการละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชนในประเทศไทย โดย ดร. สุนัย จุลพงศธร


Every Child Has the Right to Go to School (BBC News – Malala Yousafzai speech in full)

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage girl who became a global beacon for women’s rights, delivered the following speech before the United Nations Youth Assembly on ‘Malala Day’, to celebrate her 16th birthday
“In the name of God, the most beneficent, the most merciful.

Honorable UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, respected president of the General Assembly Vuk Jeremic, honorable UN envoy for global education Mr. Gordon Brown, respected elders and my dear brothers and sisters: Assalamu alaikum.

Today is it an honor for me to be speaking again after a long time. Being here with such honorable people is a great moment in my life and it is an honor for me that today I am wearing a shawl of the late Benazir Bhutto. I don’t know where to begin my speech. I don’t know what people would be expecting me to say, but first of all thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and new life.

I cannot believe how much love people have shown me. I have received thousands of good wish cards and gifts from all over the world. Thank you to all of them. Thank you to the children whose innocent words encouraged me. Thank you to my elders whose prayers strengthened me. I would like to thank my nurses, doctors and the staff of the hospitals in Pakistan and the UK and the UAE government who have helped me to get better and recover my strength.

I fully support UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his Global Education First Initiative and the work of UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and the respectful president of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic. I thank them for the leadership they continue to give. They continue to inspire all of us to action. Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing: Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.

There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for their rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them. So here I stand. So here I stand, one girl, among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights. Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.

Dear friends, on 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.

I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same. Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion I have learned from Mohammed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother. This is what my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.

Dear sisters and brothers, we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The wise saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” It is true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. This is why they killed 14 innocent students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they kill female teachers. That is why they are blasting schools every day because they were and they are afraid of change and equality that we will bring to our society. And I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist why are the Taliban against education? He answered very simply by pointing to his book, he said, “a Talib doesn’t know what is written inside this book.”

They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would point guns at people’s heads just for going to school. These terrorists are misusing the name of Islam for their own personal benefit. Pakistan is a peace loving, democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. It is the duty and responsibility to get education for each child, that is what it says. Peace is a necessity for education. In many parts of the world, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan, terrorism, war and conflicts stop children from going to schools. We are really tired of these wars. Women and children are suffering in many ways in many parts of the world.

In India, innocent and poor children are victims of child labor. Many schools have been destroyed in Nigeria. People in Afghanistan have been affected by extremism. Young girls have to do domestic child labor and are forced to get married at an early age. Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems, faced by both men and women.

Today I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights, but I am focusing on women to be independent and fight for themselves. So dear sisters and brothers, now it’s time to speak up. So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favor of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women and children’s rights. A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable.

We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education all over the world for every child. We call upon all the governments to fight against terrorism and violence. To protect children from brutality and harm. We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of education opportunities for girls in the developing world. We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, color, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave, to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential.

Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child’s bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education. No one can stop us. We will speak up for our rights and we will bring change to our voice. We believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the whole world because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty and injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of their schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright, peaceful future.

So let us wage, so let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first. Thank you.”

Transcribed by

ASIA: Arab Spring turns into military take over in Egypt

July 11, 2013

An Article from the Asian Human Rights Commission

ASIA: Arab Spring turns into military take over in Egypt

Two years after the Arab Spring held the world captive, Egypt again finds itself immersed in turmoil as Egyptians took to the streets on June 30th in a movement to remove Islamist Brotherhood leader Dr. Mohamed Morsi (Morsy according to some sources) from his post as president of the country. The movement was backed by Egypt’s National Army, which issued a statement on July 3rd, 2013 ousting Morsi and claiming that the leadership of the Islamic Brotherhood does not truly represent the interests of the people. Further demands include improvements to economic conditions to help alleviate poverty.

Cairo, a bustling city of over 20 million residents, rarely sees a quiet moment. Since June 30, however, the city has been teeming with protests and occasional violence. The last time the city saw this much action was during the Arab Spring of 2011, which resulted in the removal of President Hosni Mubarak after a thirty year term. After Mubarak’s removal, Mohamed Morsi, a representative of the Islamic Brotherhood Party, was elected as president, and was the first Egyptian president to win a Democratic election.

Upon my arrival on June 27th, it was obvious that Cairo was facing severe shortages of hard infrastructure. Roads were in disrepair, trash was rampant, buildings seemed to be falling apart, and many people were walking along the highway rather than taking public or private transportation. Along the way, I witnessed the victims of a vehicle accident lying on the side of the road, as onlookers stood around, presumably (and hopefully) waiting for emergency medical transportation. The traffic from Cairo International Airport was terrible – a 30 km drive through the city took well over an hour to complete.

The economic situation since the revolution and Mubarak’s subsequent arrest has had severe impacts on the daily lives of Egyptians. Crime has been on the rise, and people fear theft and muggings, especially in the larger cities. People are more likely to stay at home at night, and most women disappear from the streets after dark. Petrol stations frequently face shortages or shut down all together.

One of the most shocking aspects of Cairo was the long queues for petrol — often extending for blocks. The lines at the gas stations were such that drivers (all men) were waiting outside their vehicles, chatting, drinking, and even fighting. These lines could last anywhere from an hour or two to TWO DAYS to fill up a tank. We first took for this to indicate poor gasoline controls, removal of government subsidies on petrol, or perhaps shortage. However, we later learned that the people of Cairo were proactively filling up their tanks to prepare for the protest, just in case an angry government reigned in supply.

On June 30th, the protests-turned-revolution began across Egypt. I happened to be in Luxor, a city on the Nile River about 500 km south of Cairo. We managed to get stuck in the middle of the protests in a taxi as we were carted from Karnak to Luxor Temples. Although it appeared to be just a heavy dose of traffic, we quickly noticed a motorcycle carrying two young men, one of whom was carrying a three foot long rusty metal pipe. We giggled a bit over why on Earth this boy thought it necessary to bring the pipe to a ‘peaceful’ protest — or perhaps he just happened to have it with him?

After the death of a 21 year old American student who was attacked while taking photos and video of the protests in Alexandria, the United States, British, and other governments discouraged against all but essential travel to Egypt for their citizens, in anticipation of potential violence.

Talking with tour guides and taxi drivers, we began to get a better picture of the situation in Egypt. Ayman Abdo, a young tour guide (and anti-Morsi protester) in Luxor, claimed that “tourists are not like before” and that while many sites can reach 90% capacity year round, now it feels closer to 20-25%. Many tour guides are college educated, and impressively speak at least two languages. During times of high tourism, they are well paid, but since 2011, the industry has seen a dramatic decline, causing them to search for other sources of income.

Morsi’s Islamic Brotherhood party quietly takes an anti-tourism stance, because in their view of Islam, they should not be welcoming to foreigners. Tourism development has slowed considerably since Morsi came to power. For example, the new Egyptian Museum being built by the Pyramids at Giza has continued construction but at a slower pace. Morsi’s policies, coupled with international fears following 2011′s revolution, have caused this decrease in tourism; civilians are quick to blame the Islamic Brotherhood for the decline.

The poverty in Egypt was shocking. Egypt was on par with many South Asian countries in terms of poverty and lack of development. The Egyptian people rely heavily on the Nile as a source of water, and have had to dam it in order to provide water to their 82 million people. Access to clean water is still not guaranteed. Trash litters the streets and sidewalks while many people sit around idle, drinking tea at street side stands or smoking sheesha.

Buildings are left unfinished, with the metal construction rods sticking out of the roofs. Presumably the owners do this so as to avoid further hassle in case they decided to build higher in the future, however this leaves Egypt with an ‘unfinished’ and dilapidated feel.

The touts in Egypt were extremely aggressive. Our first run in with them was outside Abu Simbel temples, where we were required to ‘run the gamut’, so to speak, by walking through a shopping area before arriving back at our bus. The harassment almost got to an unbearable level, with multiple touts following a single tourist at one time, all promising ‘good deals for you, my friend’ and ‘best price’ while naming outrageous numbers for the regular made-in-China fare you find in the tourist routes.

Another curiosity was the culture of ‘baksheesh,’ or tipping. We had been warned through reading travel guides that tipping was required in almost every aspect in Egyptian culture. However, I found this to be completely false. Baksheesh appears to only be part of Egyptian-tourist culture.

Egyptians expect to be tipped for just about everything. A cleaner at one of the temples offered to take a photo and then asked for baksheesh. Touts will follow you around temples and other sites; say a few sentences of history or point out a piece of art and then demand money. Not only is it frustrating to be provided what are widely considered ‘free’ services at a cost, but this frustration is further compounded by a national shortage of small bills.

At a 1-7 exchange rate to the American dollar at the time of writing, the lack of small paper money and coins creates huge issues, not only for locals but for well-meaning tourists who are torn between not tipping at all and tipping large amounts. While ₤E100 may be appropriate for tipping tour guides, one will quickly run out of money after tipping the same amount to taxi drivers, baggage boys, bathroom attendants, etc. At one point we tipped ₤E200 to a taxi driver for a fare 1/4 of that price because we had no smaller bills.

A shortage of change means that locals have a harder time selling to tourists. All the small bills we came across were old and ripped, indicating their overuse. After a boy named Mohammed tugged at my heartstrings and convinced me to buy a ‘handmade’ bracelet I didn’t want, he promptly ran off with an extra ₤E10, claiming “gift, gift!” I was quickly mobbed by his friends demanding money, claiming that he had used their money as change. We eventually resorted to using American cash for tipping and making purchases, as this was widely accepted.

Every tour guide emphasized how much they loved Americans. American tourists are friendly, tip well, and are happy to spend money. However, it seemed that the American government couldn’t win at either side of the equation. Morsi supporters didn’t like that Obama had yet to comment on the situation, and that the US government had yet to call the military’s intervention a coup. Anti-Morsi protesters claim that the Obama administration is funding terrorism by supporting Morsi and his Islamic Brotherhood regime. According to one Cairo tour guide, Morsi pardoned several state prisoners connected with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the Middle East.

While the political problems in Egypt will take much time to sort out, there is a lot of work that can be undertaken in the near future to improve the social and economic situation of Egyptians. Obviously, the first step is to stop the violence. The bloodshed and violent sexual attacks on women are unwarranted and unnecessary. Foreign governments need to hold Egypt’s government and military accountable for their actions. Firing on unarmed citizens is not a model of democracy that should be upheld and it should never be condoned, even in the midst of a revolution.

Despite protestors using a poor economy as one of their rallying points against Mubarak, violence by civilians or military only serves to worsen Egypt’s economic situation, and thereby impact the quality of life of Egyptians. Foreign currency reserves have dropped dramatically in response to the first revolution ousting Mubarak, as well as decreased tourism revenue and collapse in foreign direct investment.

The Central Bank of Egypt needs to address the small currency shortage – either by exchanging larger bills for smaller ones at nationwide banks, or printing and replacing small bills. Small day-to-day transactions are made increasingly difficult if one doesn’t have money. As far as international investment, only political stability will increase investor’s confidence in the market.

It is also the duty of the interim leaders to ensure that Egypt’s judiciary and government sponsored services are carried out as usual. Without proper enforcement of justice, criminals will continue to run rampant. Hundreds of women have reported assault, and the nature of the violent sexual assaults on women in Tahrir is horrendous, with many women requiring surgery. In a recent post in the Guardian, Mona Eltahawy argues that Egypt is in need of a revolution against sexual violence, as many sexual crimes in Egypt are never prosecuted or even acknowledged.

Egypt is facing an uphill battle, and things are likely to get worse before they get better. Poverty, infrastructure, fiscal policy, pollution, and women’s rights are all areas needing a great deal of reform and attention. The greatest challenge facing Egypt’s next generation of leaders is to implement a lasting form of Democracy– one that extends justice to all citizens.






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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.

วันนี้ผมไปเยี่ยมคุณดา ตอร์ปิโด สมยศ พฤกษาเกษมสุข และสุรชัย ด่านวัฒนานุสรณ์

โดย ประเวศ ประภานุกูล


วันนี้ผมไปเยี่ยมคุณดารณี ชาญเชิงศิลปกุล หรือดา ตอร์ปิโด

ดา ตอร์ปิโด
จากที่เห็น ก็อย่างที่คุณหมอเหวงบอก คือเธอดูสดใสขึ้น ดูไม่ออกว่ามีอาการเจ็บป่วย แต่ก็อ่ะนะ…วันนี้ผมไม่ได้ถามอาการเธอ และถ้าไม่ถามเธอก็ไม่เคยบอก ถึงเธอจะดูดีขึ้น แต่การที่ไม่ได้รักษา (ต้องผ่าตัด) อาการเจ็บป่วยคงยังมีอยู่แน่นอน

เรื่องที่เธออยากพบผมก็คือเรื่องการยื่นฎีกา โดยเธอได้ยื่นคำร้องจากในคุกผ่านโต๊ะคดี (ตามที่เธอเรียก) ขอขยายเวลาฎีกาไปถึงวันที่ 12 สิงหาคม 2556 (ศาลอาญาอ่านคำพิพากษาศาลอุทธรณ์วันที่ 12 มิถุนายน 2556…ครบกำหนดยื่นฎีกาภายในวันที่ 12 กรกฎาคม 2556) โดยเหตุผลที่เธออ้างในการขอขยายเวลาฎีกาคือ ทนายความยังไม่ได้ไปพบเธอ

เรื่องนี้ผมเคยยื่นคำร้องต่อศาลอาญาแล้ว ขอให้ส่งหมายนัดฟังคำพิพากษาศาลอุทธรณ์แจ้งทนายจำเลยด้วย แต่ศาลอาญาก็ไม่สนใจเบิกตัวดาไปฟังคำพิพากษาศาลอุทธรณ์โดยไม่ได้ส่งหมายแจ้งทนายจำเลยแต่อย่างใด ตรงนี้ถ้าหากศาลอุทธรณ์พิพากษายกฟ้องปล่อยตัวดาไปก็คงไม่มีปัญหาอะไร แต่ศาลอุทธรณ์พิพากษายืน จำคุกดา 15 ปีตามศาลชั้นต้น (ศาลอาญา) การไม่แจ้งทนายจำเลยทราบ ทนายจำเลยย่อมไม่ทราบการอ่านคำพิพากษาศาลอุทธรณ์

สัปดาห์นี้ผมยังไม่มีเวลาไปถ่ายสำเนาคำพิพากษาศาลอุทธรณ์ สัปดาห์หน้าก็ต้องไปอุบล กลับมาอีกทีก็สิ้นเดือน คงต้องรอต้นเดือนหน้าค่อยว่ากัน


การคุยกับดาวันนี้หนักไปทางการเมืองและเรื่องอื่นๆ มากกว่าคดี ประกอบกับผมไปถึงใกล้เที่ยง (ราว 11.30 น.) จึงมีเวลาคุยน้อย ที่จำได้คือ

ดาฝากแสดงความยินดีกับคุณประชา ที่ได้เป็นรัฐมนตรีต่อ และฝากบอกว่า เธอรอคอยการไปเยี่ยมของคุณประชา 3 ปีแล้ว ก็ไม่รู้ว่าจะมีใครช่วยส่งข่าวไปถึง พณฯท่าน หรือเปล่า ลำพังเสียงของผมคงไม่ดังพอ

นอกจากนี้ บรรดาแกนนำ นปช. ก็ไม่เคยไปเยี่ยมดาเลย ไม่ว่าจะเป็นคุณณัฐวุฒิ หรือคุณจตุพร คงมีเพียง อ.ธิดา เคยไปเยี่ยมเธอ 1 ครั้ง และคุณหมอเหวงไปเยี่ยม 2 ครั้ง ครั้งหลังก็อย่างที่คุณหมอเหวงเคยโพสต์บอกไปแล้ว แต่ละครั้งที่ไปเยี่ยมเธอ คุณหมอเหวงได้ฝากเงินให้เธอ 2,000 บาท

สิ่งที่เธออยากได้จากรัฐบาลนี้คือ เธออยากย้ายไปอยู่เรือนจำหลักสี่ แต่เธอกลับฝากถึง อ.หวาน ให้ช่วยเธอในเรื่องนี้

ส่วนเรื่องการนิรโทษกรรม มันคงไม่มีหวังจากรัฐบาลนี้อยู่แล้ว (อันนี้ผมพูดเองครับ…ส่วนเธอก็เริ่ม รู้เช่นเห็นชาตินักเลือกตั้งพรรคเพื่อไทยแล้ว)

สมยศ พฤกษ์

หลังจากเยี่ยมดา ทีแรกก็ว่าจะกลับ แต่แล้วก็นึกได้ว่าไม่ได้มาพบคุณสมยศนานแล้ว ก็เลยวนรถกลับไป

พอถึงห้องพบทนายของเรือนจำพิเศษกรุงเทพฯ ปรากฏว่าแอร์เสีย แล้วการก่อสร้างของห้องนี้ ถ้าไม่มีแอร์ก็ดีกว่าเตาอบไม่มาก ทั้งร้อนและอับ สงสารก็แต่เจ้าหน้าที่ประจำห้องที่ต้องทนอยู่ทั้งวัน สัปดาห์ละ 5 วัน

พอยื่นเอกสารขอพบ เจ้าหน้าที่ทักว่า “คนเดียวหรือ” ได้ยินทีแรกผมก็ไม่คิดอะไร เขาคงถามไปตามปกติ แต่ที่เซอร์ไพร้ส์เล็กๆ คือ เขาจำได้ว่าคุณสมยศอยู่แดน 1 พอเอาเอกสารไปให้หัวหน้าเขาเซ็นต์ก็ทักเหมือนกันอีก แต่คราวนี้เขาเรียกคุณสมยศว่าอาจารย์ “อาจารย์สมยศคนเดียวหรือครับ” อันนี้แปลกใจจริงแล้ว…อาจารย์สมยศ ได้ยินแล้วก็เลยนึกถึงคุณสุรชัย (เพราะคนเสื้อแดงต่างก็เรียก อ.สุรชัย) เขาก็ให้กรอกเพิ่มได้ โดยบอกว่าอยู่แดน 1 เหมือนกัน….รู้ว่าอยู่แดนไหนอีกด้วย!!

เป็นอันว่าได้คุยกับคุณสุรชัย และคุณสมยศพร้อมกัน

เท่าที่เห็น ทั้งคุณสุรชัยและคุณสมยศต่างก็สบายดี ไม่เห็นวี่แววความเจ็บป่วย แต่ผมก็ไม่ได้ถามด้วย

สุรชัย ด่าน

คุณสุรชัยยังเชื่อว่าจะได้รับพระราชทานอภัยโทษ โดยแกเชื่อว่าเป็นสัญญาณจากสำนักราชเลขาธิการ ผ่านมาทางเจ้าหน้าที่ราชทัณฑ์ นอกจากนี้แกยังได้ข่าวจากสถานทูตเกาหลีว่าพรุ่งนี้จะมีการพระราชทานอภัยโทษลงมา แต่ยังไม่แน่ว่าเป็นคนเกาหลี หรือตัวแกเองกับคุณหนุ่มเมืองนนท์

แต่ถ้าพรุ่งนี้ไม่ได้พระราชทานอภัยโทษก็คงเป็นวันที่ 12 สิงหาคมนี้ แกก็เลยอยากให้ผมพูดกับดาให้เปลี่ยนมาขอพระราชทานอภัยโทษแทนการยื่นฎีกา แต่ผมคุยกับดามาก่อนแล้ว ก็เลยไม่ได้รับปาก

สรุปก็คือ คุณสุรชัยอาจได้ออกจากคุกพรุ่งนี้ หรือไม่ก็วันที่ 12 สิงหาคมนี้

สักพักหนึ่งคุณสุรชัยขอตัวเข้าไปก่อน เลยคุยกับคุณสมยศตามลำพัง

คุณสมยศไม่ได้เชื่อตามที่คุณสุรชัยเชื่อ แต่เรื่องนี้ก็คงต้องคอยดูกันต่อไปว่าคุณสุรชัยจะได้รับพระราชทานอภัยโทษตามที่แกยื่นเรื่องขอไปหรือเปล่า แต่อย่างน้อยหนังสือขอพระราชทานอภัยโทษของคุณสุรชัย และคุณหนุ่มเมืองนนท์ ก็ไปถึงสำนักราชเลขาธิการแล้ว

ตอนอยู่ลำพัง ผมได้ถามถึงสุขภาพ คุณสมยศก็บอกว่าสบายดี ถามถึงอาหารการกิน แกบอกว่าต้องสั่งมากิน กินของเรือนจำไม่ได้ ตอนแรกที่เข้าไปก็กินอาหารเรือนจำถึงได้เป็นเก๊า

อืม…ที่ได้ข่าวว่าคุณสมยศป่วยเป็นเก๊า เป็นเพราะอาหารของเรือนจำหรือนี่

ด้านสุขภาพตอนนี้คงไม่มีปัญหาอะไรทั้งคู่ คุณสุรชัยก็บอกว่าเขาดูแลดี ได้รับการรักษาตลอด อย่างน้อยนี่ก็เป็นข่าวดีในระดับหนึ่ง

ถึงแม้ตัวคุณสมยศจะอยู่ในคุก แต่แกก็เอาแต่พูดถึงขบวนการต่อสู้ แกอยากให้มีกองทุนในการเคลื่อนไหว เพราะมีหลายกลุ่มที่ติดขัดเรื่องเงินทุนจนไม่สามารถเคลื่อนไหวอะไรได้…ว่าที่จริงแกอยากให้แบ่งเงินที่ส่งเข้าไปช่วยเหลือแกมาจัดตั้งกองทุน แต่ผมคงช่วยเหลืออะไรไม่ได้เพราะทันทีที่มีเงินเข้ามาเกี่ยวข้องก็จะถูดโจมตีทันที…ซึ่งแกก็มีสีหน้าแสดงความเข้าใจ


คุณสมยศเข้าใจดีถึงการตัดสินใจของคุณสุรชัย แต่แกยืนยันถึงการต่อสู้ต่อไป…การต่อสู้คดี โดยได้ยื่นอุทธรณ์แล้ว และได้พูดว่า “อยู่ในคุกมี 3 อย่าง เพี้ยน (บ้า) เบี่ยงเบนทางเพศ ตาย เส้นทางนี้อันตราย แต่เดินไปเพื่อให้วงการเขาได้ต่อสู้กัน” ในส่วนคดีของแก คุณสมยศเห็นว่า การเปลี่ยนคณะผู้พิพากษาโดยเอาคณะอื่นที่ไม่ได้อยู่ในการไต่สวนตั้งแต่ต้นมาตัดสินคดีเป็นสิ่งที่ไม่ถูกต้อง ผมฟังแกพูดแล้วรู้สึกว่าแกน่าจะเขียนได้ดีกว่าผม เลยบอกให้แกเขียนเอง ส่วนผมมีภาระต้องส่งบทความวิพากษ์ศาลให้แกเพื่อใช้เป็นข้อมูลประกอบการเขียน

จำได้ว่าคุณสมยศเคยบอกว่า “การติดคุกก็เป็นการต่อสู้อย่างหนึ่ง” แต่วันนี้แกบอกว่า “อย่างน้อยลูกชายแก (น้องไท) ก็ออกมาสู้ ภรรยาแก (คุณจุ๊บ) ก็ออกมาสู้”….พูดถึงตรงนี้แล้วผมรู้สึกสงสารคุณจุ๊บขึ้นมาจับใจ ไม่รู้ว่าเธอนอนร้องไห้คนเดียวนานแค่ไหน…กี่คืน หรือกี่เดือน เฮ้อ…………

แกเปรียบการต่อสู้ของแกเหมือนก้อนกรวดถมทางให้คนเดินต่อ แน่นอนว่าแกรู้ดีถึงความเจ็บปวดจากการต่อสู้ การเป็นก้อนกรวดถมดินให้คนเดินผ่านยิ่งเจ็บปวดเป็น 2 เท่า แต่แกก็ยังยืนหยัด

หลังเดินออกมาจากการเยี่ยมดา นึกได้ถึงป้ายที่ติดไว้หน้าทัณฑสถานหญิงกลางที่สะดุดตาตั้งแต่ตอนเดินเข้าไป จึงย้อนกลับไปจดมา ป้ายนั้นมีโลโก้ของราชทัณฑ์มุมซ้ายบน และมีข้อความว่า “กรมราชทัณฑ์ สร้างงาน สร้างอาชีพ แรงงานรับจ้างมากกว่า 200,000 คน”


ปล.ระหว่าง รอพบคุณสุรชัยและคุณสมยศ ได้มีโอกาสคุยกับพนักงานสอบสวนคนหนึ่ง ก็ได้คุยกันแบบคนที่อยู่ในวงการศาลด้วยกัน ยังหนุ่มอยู่ เขาเองก็รู้ว่าคุกเมืองไทยมีไว้ขังคนจน บางครั้งคนเราก็ได้เจอสิ่งไม่คาดฝันในสถานที่ที่ไม่คาดคิด