UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam issued a paper on Monday, titled “License to Kill,” that critiques the Truth for Reconciliation for Thailand (TRCT) report that was released last week for its lack of fresh evidence and its blatant failure to account for the killing of unarmed civilians by soldiers.
Amsterdam writes that,
The findings of the TRCT not only provide further evidence for the admissibility of the case before the ICC, on the basis that Thailand remains unable and unwilling to prosecute crimes against humanity, but underscores the urgency of taking action to end impunity in order to prevent the reoccurrence of similar incidents.
In the paper, Amsterdam describes the TRCT report as an
Attempt to shield those who planned, carried out, and oversaw the 2010 crackdowns from accountability.
“License to Kill” points out that the TRCT report fails to offer any new evidence and, instead, re-interprets evidence that is already on public record in a manner which absolves the principal agents of any responsibility.
Most importantly, Amsterdam’s paper dissects the TRCT’s lack of analysis of the massacres in April – May 2010.
In the TRCT report, the crackdown on April 10, 2010, which killed 26 people, is blamed solely on the unidentified “men in black”. Once again, these men are presented, without a shred of new evidence, as affiliates of the Red Shirt protestors. Moreover, the chaos and panic caused by the “men in black” justifies the shooting of unarmed protestors, and effectively absolves troops, officers, and government officials of responsibility.
Amsterdam highlights that in the TRCT report,
Any death that does not fit that narrative… is postdated, ignored, or labeled as unexplained.
Furthermore, the TRCT report fails to hold to account the Royal Thai Army (RTA) for the killings of unarmed civilians on May 13-19 2010. The TRCT justifies the RTA’s actions as an appropriate responses to resistance mounted by Red Shirts and the actions of armed “men in black”, which made the troops “nervous/worried” (witok kangwon) and “stressed” (khriat).
“License to Kill” states that,
In no instance does the TRCT describe the killing of protestors as an act of ‘murder’. In fact, the general reference to the “worry” and “stress” of the troops is enough for the TRCT to absolve all soldiers involved of any criminal intent.
The TRCT’s account stands in stark contrast to the numerous organisations that have, after investigation, condemned the RTA’s response to the protests as “disproportionate” and “coldblooded murder”. These organisations include Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, International Crisis Group, Marginalized Monsoon Group, and People’s Information Centre.
Amsterdam argues that the report’s blatant bias was to be expected. The Abhisit government appointed Kanit na Nakorn, who has publicly compared Thaksin Shinawatra to Adolf Hitler, as commission chief, and notable PAD supporters as sub-committee members.
The lack of impartiality, he argues, is most obvious in the report’s analysis of the root causes of the Thai political conflict. The blame is placed on Thaksin while the military coup that ousted him is glossed over as a “desperate measure,” as opposed to the criminal act that it was.
Amsterdam’s “License to Kill” concludes that the TRCT offers Thailand neither accountability nor reconciliation.
To read the full report, click here.
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