ericbj on Sun, 8 Oct 2006 19:00:27 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Human rights in Thailand

 Since this subject has been broached here
 quite recently, I take the liberty of pasting
 below a message sent to .

 The implications are wider than the regional
 issue, for it raises the question of to what
 extent major media (and telecoms companies)
 dominated by big business interests are
 compatible with true democracy (the latter an
 ideal, but one to be striven for).


 To:	Democracy for Burma
 Subject:	Re: US backs man who said :
 Date sent:	Sat, 07 Oct 2006 20:22:02 +0100

> Eric
> Brilliant. I agree 100% with you.
> Now back to Burma........
> Derek


 The Thai situation is of great importance for Burma.

 But I have no time for writing, at the present.
 Otherwise I should produce an expos? entitled:

 	 700 Victims a Month
	according to Thai police *

 For the Thai question is not only about democracy, but
 also about human rights,which include the right to a
 fair trial.

 Thaksin Shinawatra should stand trial for murder :
 for premeditated murder on a grand scale.

 This was undertaken as a publicity stunt and relayed to
 the Thai public by a largely compliant media,
 intimidated, taken over and bought up by him and his

 This must be borne in mind when assessing the need for
 some degree of short-term censorship -- pending the
 mucking out of the Aegean stables.

 When democracy comes to Burma, will the junta's media
 appointees be left to carry on as before ?

 We must not rule out the possibility that an attempt
 will be made by the Rangoon regime to destabilize the
 interim government in Bangkok.
 It seems that Thaksin may have heard rumours of an
 impending attempt to overthrow him, and this might
 explain his sudden visit to Rangoon shortly beforehand.


* 	The people murdered were nearly all small-
	time drug dealers, often addicts who traded a
	bit to pay for their vice. Some had given up
	involvement with drugs and others appear to
	have had no connection at all.  Some may have
	been eliminated because they knew the
	identities of racketeering police or
	officials.  Dead men, women and children tell
	no tales.

 Some quotes:

 "Lastly, Thai businessmen (and others throughout the
 region) also profit, to a huge degree, from the supply
 of narcotics from Burma. Opium, heroin and
 methamphetamines likely generate billions of dollars in
 revenue, from production (e.g., the sale of precursor
 chemicals) through to retail distribution. The narcotics
 industry emanating from Burma is one of the largest and
 most profitable industries in all of Southeast Asia.
 With so much money at stake (from all of the above
 activities), Thai support for the SPDC is not
 surprising. Prime Minister Thaksin's most important
 constituency is the Thai business community, and he will
 never block one of their major cash streams.
 As for the narcotics, we do not mean to infer that the
 Prime Minister himself, who spent fourteen years in the
 Thai police, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel,
 and who is also from Chiang Mai, is involved. (A man is
 innocent until proven guilty.) But it is accepted that
 many leading Thais, including political, military and
 business leaders, are involved in the drug trade. ...
 Also, there is one other thesis that needs to be
 considered. Some people speculate that the Burmese
 generals are in fact blackmailing the Thai government;
 that they have made behind the scenes threats to reveal
 the names of influential Thais who are involved in
 narcotics. It is noteworthy that no leading Thais were
 arrested in Thaksin's highly publicized war on drugs.
 (Similarly, no Thai police generals have been indicted
 for corruption.) It is also noteworthy that the drug
 lord Khun Sa (and others) have been given sanctuary in
 Rangoon. The usual view of this arrangement is that it
 was in exchange for money. A more enlightened view,
 though, holds that Khun Sa agreed to provide the names,
 backed by hard evidence, of the Thais who run the drug
 trade inside Thailand. The Burmese generals, if they
 have this information, can use it as the basis for
 extortion to keep the Thai government, for decades, on
 their side."
 [Roland Watson, Dictator Watch, 22nd Aug 2003]

 "A leading US activist group yesterday called for a halt
 to the massive crackdown on Thailand-based supporters of
 Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the movement for
 human rights and democracy in Burma."
 [The Nation, Bangkok, 15th October 2003]

 "Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been moving
 in the wrong direction with respect to civil liberties
 in his own country as well as for Burma. His security
 forces have banned human rights activists from entering
 the country, intimidated local media, threatened to
 expel refugees and those who care for them, and waged a
 war on drugs in which thousands of alleged criminals
 have been shot in extrajudicial executions.
 You may not hear much about this from Mr. Bush, because
 Thailand also has been helping track down al Qaeda-
 affiliated terrorists. At times the war on terrorism
 will force the United States to compromise on other
 principles and forge alliances with unsavory characters.
 Still, this seems an odd moment for Mr Bush to consider
 bestowing on Thailand the same "major non-NATO ally"
 status that Israel and South Korea enjoy."
 [WP, 19th Oct 2003]

 "During the intensive three-month campaign at least 2,275
 people were murdered."   (official statistic)
 [AFP, 2nd Dec 2003]

> ----- Original Message -----
> From:
> Subject: [Democracy_forBurma] US backs man who said :
> "Democracy is like a Rolls-Royce.
> The Thai people don't need a Rolls-Royce."
> [*]
> See article below.
> Does one of George W. Bush's cronies have a finger in
> Thaksin's business empire ?
> Bad news for him if the empire gets dismantled.
> The King of Thailand, who has a record of speaking and
> acting in favour of democracy, was most likely aware
> that the coup was to happen, and presumably gave his
> consent.
> The new interim prime minister is a general who has in
> the past spoken out in favour of democracy and against
> military coups, and who condemned the massacre of pro-
> democracy demonstrators in May 1992.
> The proof is not yet there, but the evidence suggests
> that Thailand's steady slide towards dictatorship when
> under Thaksin is to be halted.
> This is good for Thai people, and it cannot be bad for
> the Burmese.
> Who are Thaksin's Burmese friends ?
> Burmese democrats in exile (and their friends) who have
> personal contact with US senators or congressmen might
> consider reminding them of Thaksin's treatment of those
> from Burma who support democracy.
> In no way does the current interim government in
> Thailand deserve to be treated as if it were equivalent
> to the Rangoon terrorist regime and worse than some of
> America's unsavoury Middle Eastern allies.
> Regards,
> Eric
> *      Paraphrasing Thaksin's public address to the
>       Thai people on their Constitution Day, 2003
>       as reported in The Nation, Bangkok, 14th Dec. 2003:
>       "Democracy is a good and beautiful thing, but
>       it's not the ultimate goal as far as
>       administering the country is concerned ...
>       Democracy is a vehicle.  We can't drive a
>       Rolls-Royce to a rural village and solve
>       peoples' problems. A pickup truck or a good
>       off-road car will do."
> ___________________________
>       Irrawaddy on-line, 7th October 2006 :
>       By Thalif Deen/IPS
> The bloodless coup against a democratically-elected
> government in Thailand last month has forced the US to
> suspend aid to one of Washington's longstanding
> political allies in Southeast Asia, and also to review
> its military relations with Bangkok.
> The administration of US President George W Bush, which
> is seeking UN sanctions against the military government
> in neighboring Burma, has said the Thai military coup
> was a "U-turn" for democracy in the region.
> Thailand and Burma are both members of Asean, along with
> Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines,
> Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. But an Asean diplomat at the
> UN says there is no justifiable comparison between the
> two military governments.
> "The situation in Thailand is quite different from
> Myanmar [Burma]," he told IPS, speaking on condition of
> anonymity. No doubt, he admitted, the coup is a setback
> for democracy, but Thai society is far more resilient
> and stable and will weather this setback.
> "They have many strong anchors, including Buddhism, and
> a strong reverence for the King," he said. "Thailand
> will remain a key member of Asean, and Asean will not do
> anything to place Thailand in the dock, especially so
> when they have taken the first steps to restore
> constitutional government."
> Since US law forbids military assistance to countries
> where a democratically elected government is ousted by
> an army junta, the Bush administration has already
> suspended some US $24 million in military aid to
> Thailand.
> The civilian government was ousted when Prime Minister
> Thaksin Shinawatra was in New York to address the UN
> General Assembly. Instead of returning home, where he
> would be likely to face charges of corruption, Thaksin
> opted to fly to London, where he is in virtual political
> exile.
> Frida Berrigan, senior research associate at the Arms
> Trade Resource Centre at the New York-based World Policy
> Institute, said the fiscal year 2007 International
> Affairs budget request for military aid for Thailand
> praises the country as a "stable democracy" that "serves
> as both a model for development and democratization,"
> and reminds readers that it was designated a "major non-
> NATO ally" in 2003.
> The NATO comparison has put Thailand in the category of
> close US allies such as Israel and Egypt.
> "This request was prepared in the early months of 2006
> and serves as a record of how quickly things shift,"
> Berrigan told IPS.
> She said the US State Department is seeking to pressure
> the military junta by suspending military aid and
> continuing "to urge a rapid return to democratic rule
> and early elections in Thailand."
> The freeze on aid to Thailand-including outright grants
> under the Foreign Military Financing program and under
> the International Military Education and Training
> program, as well as funding for peacekeeping operations
> and counter-terrorism-will continue until "a
> democratically elected government takes office."
> According to the London-based military magazine Jane's
> Defence Weekly, the US provision to suspend aid is
> outlined in Section 508 of the Foreign Operations
> Appropriations Act, which could shut down military
> cooperation between the two long-standing partners.
> "However, the obligations under Section 508 may be open
> to interpretation," the magazine noted.
> It could be argued that Thaksin was not, in fact, a
> "duly elected head of government." Although twice
> elected to power with substantial popular support, the
> magazine said, the snap election he called in April 2006
> was boycotted by the opposition and declared void by the
> courts.
> Berrigan said that in the past few years, Washington has
> provided Thailand annually with more than $1 million in
> foreign military financing and a further $2 billion in
> military training through IMET.
> In addition to receiving millions of dollars in US
> military aid, Thailand is also a significant purchaser
> of US-made weapons systems-taking delivery of military
> hardware worth some $1.5 billion in the last 10
> years-including $179 million worth of weaponry and
> hardware in 2004, and deliveries worth $92 million in
> 2005.
> As recently as April 2006, Berrigan said, the US Defense
> Security Cooperation Agency announced the possible sale
> of six MH-60S helicopters, engines, spare and repair
> parts, valued at $246 million.
> Thailand's military budget hovers at about $2 billion a
> year, which means that taken together, US military aid,
> support for training and weapons sales makes up about
> one-twentieth of the Thai military priorities, a sizable
> (but not overwhelming) chunk.
> Berrigan also said that Thailand announced a 10-year
> military build-up in 2005, allocating $6.6 billion to
> beef up its military.
> Asked if Thailand will turn to non-US sources for its
> arms requirements, Berrigan said: "Even before the US
> freeze, China and India have been courting Bangkok." She
> said that China has sent Thailand two missile-armed
> offshore patrol boats, with combat systems manufactured
> by a subsidiary of British Aerospace, and there are
> plans for two more.
> In January, she pointed out, India hosted Thai military
> personnel in a multilateral maritime exercise that also
> included Indonesian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi
> and Burmese naval units.
> Inter Press Service (IPS)

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