A fact-finding panel of academics spent nearly four hours dissecting the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT) report on Sunday afternoon at Thammasat University. The panel, which included six professors from multiple universities, argued that the report lacks in raw data and fails to condemn the army’s disproportionate use of force in handling the protests of April-May 2010.
According to the panel, the TRCT report’s 300 pages are superficial and ignore the crucial question of whether the Committee for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) complied with international standards when it ordered 60,000 combat-ready soldiers onto the streets of Bangkok.
Instead, the TRCT tried to blame the violence on the supposed “men in black”, based on dubious evidence that would not hold in a court of law. In the report, the TRCT use such flimsy evidence to conveniently include the “men in black” in every scenario and situation where unarmed protesters are murdered or injured by the Royal Thai Army (RTA).
Sawatree Suksri, Thammasat University professor of law, said,
The TRCT is made up of legal experts, they know what they are doing… The [men in black] are made into scapegoats.
Chulalongkorn University professor of political science, Dr Viengrat Nethipo, argued that the report completely glosses over the unlawful arrest of nearly 2,000 protesters by the army. Many were arrested for as little as carrying a UDD identification card, while hundreds were detained for months without access to family or legal counsel, and were forced to confess under threats and intimidation. The TRCT report also sidestepped well-documented incidents where bystanders were killed by RTA soldiers.
The panel also said that the mainstream media was complicit in distorting the facts and failed to present an accurate portrayal of the protests.
Teerapol Unmai, Faculty of Arts lecturer at Ubonrachathani, said
The media pushed the Red Shirts to the margins in order to keep Abhisit in power.
The TRCT report received 75 percent of its evidence from the government and the military, despite its lack of subpoena power. Still, raw data is absent from the final report.
Sawatree Suksri said
Where is the truth in this report? In court, three hundred pages might be enough for one criminal case. How many cases are we dealing with here?
She also accused the TRCT of undermining democratic values in Thailand,
Democracy is about conflict, bargaining, and fighting for rights. You can’t be a democratic country if you tell everybody to shut up, smile and move on.