How to express my dismay and disgust that Dictator Prayut Chan-o-cha (self-appointed Prime Minister of Thailand) is visiting the WHITE HOUSE on Monday? If you have some time, read my speech, given at Lao-Thai Human Rights Conference on Capitol Hill just days before President Trump extended the invitation, on the last weekend in April. My speech is called “Thailand’s Orwellian Nightmare: Three Cases” and gives you a small taste of what it is like to be a human rights worker or member of the political opposition in Thailand under Prime Minister Prayut. To cut to the chase, you will be tortured (Kritsuda Khunasaen), or murdered (Chaiyaphoom Pasea), or jailed for nothing (Pai Daodin). It is hard to convey, in a small space, the climate of fear caused by a junta government that systematically crushes anyone who speaks out against it or just raises inconvenient facts.
If you doubt my account, or think it is overly selective, let me draw your attention to a fourth case that I mentioned in that speech, only in passing, as a parallel to the case of Red Shirt leader Kritsuda Khunasaen. In an aside, I said “(This strategy repeats itself in the recent Ma Noi case)” — the strategy being to use torture to get witnesses in Thailand to confess to illegal and improbable dealings with the dissident abroad in order to get the dissident extradited back to Thailand’s Ministry of Love. Ma Noi was an extremely outspoken dissident living in exile to escape a lese majesty charge (the so-called crime of insulting the king). At the time I gave the speech, Ma Noi was still broadcasting his anti-monarchy messages into Thailand, and Thailand was desperately trying and failing to get him extradited back to Thailand. Let me update you on what has since happened to a man I was concerned about, who I randomly mentioned in a speech on “Thailand’s Orwellian Nightmare”: on July 29, one day after the birthday of the King he so vehemently opposed, Ma Noi was abducted in Laos by ten armed men in ski masks, who were speaking Thai, and he was assassinated.
Dictator Prayut Chan-o-cha is up to his neck in all of these cases, defending and/or denying the military’s actions without any concern for consistency or plausibility. In fact, it works best for him if you are scared away from making accusations against the government but know in your heart that that it is all true and you will be tortured, killed, or jailed on a pretense if you step out of line. Continue reading →
As the executive director of a Thai human rights organization based in the US, I am finding it hard to worry about Thai human rights right now because of bigger human rights disasters underway in 1) a country neighboring Thailand (on ongoing genocide in Myanmar) and 2) right here at home (the possible expulsion of the Dreamers). I need to talk about these things or give up my claim to care about human rights.
When it comes to human rights principles, the first Article of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights will get you pretty far:
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
And Article 2, then clarifies that “EVERYONE is entitled to the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration” without exceptions for “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belong . . .” [emphasis mine].
Two days before the fighting and the burning of whole Rohingya villages and the mass exodous of Rohingya women and children to Banglasdesh (which, by the way, is currently experiencing catastrophic flooding!), I read the results of a UN study on the Rohingya problem, the Final Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. I read almost the whole thing. It outlined the difficult problem and recommended first steps forward based on human rights principles. But the recommendations came too late for the Rohingya, “The most persecuted people on Earth.” Fighting broke out and Rohingya villages were burned to the ground with survivors fleeing with only the clothes on their backs. Continue reading →
Ms. Yingluck and the government can see the suffering of farmers who have experienced many problems. Thailand is one of the biggest rice producing countries in the world and quality is at the top. But the livelihood of the peasants should be improved. But exactly the opposite, farmers have fallen back into poverty. Debt rises every year.
Ms. Yingluck and the Ministry of Commerce have adopted a policy of guaranteeing grain prices to farmers without having to go through middlemen. Yingluck’s policy of rice pledging would make it so Thai farmers have hope to live a better life.
When the coup happened everything, all the good campaigns to help the citizens, had to stop. Yingluck and the Ministry of Commerce were accused of corruption by the National Council for Peace and Order to recover huge damages. It has been a court case for over three years. There is much evidence but no evidence has appeared that she is guilty of corruption of the country. It is not by rule of law that she has been charged but by arbitrary power.
The law enforcement system will not be effective. There are two standards, as everyone understands . The judges will have a mafia command system following the people in power. To go to demand justice for yourself and for those who do what is rubbish must be like a nightmare.
Finally, Yingluck escaped the unjust Thai justice process.
Here is a list of Yingluck’s Ministers who have been sent to prison:
Boonsong Teriyapirom, former Minister of Commerce, sentenced to 42 years without parole.
Khun Poom Sarapon former Deputy Minister of Commerce, sentences to 36 years without parole
Mr. Manat Saiplay, former Director General of Department of Foreign Affairs, sentenced to for 40 years, no parole.
Mr. Tikhamporn Nathavorathat, former Director of the Office of Foreign Trade and Former Deputy Foreign Trade Department, sentenced to 32 years without a parole.
Mr. Akarapong Choukleing or Taveepra, former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Trade, and former Director of the Office of Foreign Trade, sentenced to 24 years.
Mr. Apichart or Sia-Peeng Jansakunporn CEO of Siam indica, sentenced to 48 years without parole.
The Thai Alliance for Human Rights urges Bangladesh to accept the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, and for all countries, including the United States to accept more Muslim refugees. The world is obligated to find a solution. According to Articles 1, 2, 3, and 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (All are equal in dignity and rights, and we should act toward one another with a spirit of brotherhood; No discrimination on the basis of race, language, religion, birth, etc.; Everyone has the right to life and security of person; and Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum in other countries from persecution.)