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The Fight for Truth in Thailand Continues – UDD Leaders

At the UDD’s weekly press conference on Friday, UDD leaders expressed their concerns for the ongoing suppression of truth in Thailand. As they mourned the sudden loss of Kittichai Kangkan, a Red Shirt supporter and a key witness in the Wat Pathum massacre of 2010, they also discussed tomorrow’s 36thanniversary of the Thammasat University massacre and the persistent failures of Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Kittichai passed away on Monday, October 1st, at Siriraj Hospital due to sudden heart failure. According to family members, he was not known to have any previous cardiovascular issues. Although he had yet to testify in court, he had provided police with an eyewitness account of soldiers shooting at unarmed civilians inside the temple that had been declared a “safe zone.” His statement is still admissible in court and will surely help in proving that the military were responsible for the six murders that occurred at Wat Pathum on May 19th 2010.

UDD leader Tida went as far as to call Kittichai the

Seventh victim of the Wat Pathum massacre.

She also called on all Thais to help commemorate Saturday’s 36th anniversary of the October 6 massacre at Thammasat University in 1976.

She said,

Too long have the Amaat tried to keep this important event out our collective memory. Our history must be reclaimed by the people.

Tida warned that history could be repeating itself with the recent report on the 2010 military crackdown issued by the Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC intends to release an English translation of their report shortly, a move that risks to distort the international perception of the events in April-May 2010.

In response, she asked that people help finance an English translation of the Truth for Justice report issued by the People’s Information Centre (PIC), an independent group of academics that conducted their own donation-sponsored investigation.

Dr Weng announced that he was going to the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) headquarters to submit a letter on behalf of the UDD. The letter requests that DSI question Somchai Hom-laor regarding his unsubstantiated claims that armed men in black were affiliated with Red Shirt protestors.

Chairwoman Tida called on the government to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in order for the truth to surface and for those responsible to be held accountable.

She asked Red Shirts to be patient and determined,

We’ve been fighting for this case for a long time, but we musn’t tire. The ICC process will be long, but if we succeed, we can bring much needed change to Thailand.

The importance of international action was highlighted further by Dr Weng’s criticisms of the NHRC and it’s blatant bias. The commission failed to condemn the military crackdown on Red Shirts protests in 2010, despite the fact that it had accused the People’s Power Party (PPP) of violating human rights standards in its handling of Yellow Shirt protests in 2007. The NHRC has also repeatedly blamed deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for Thailand’s political problems. Saneh Chamarik, then chairman,  even defended the military coup in 2006 on the grounds that it was a matter of “problem solving.” According to Dr Weng, these examples of bias have completely undermined the NHRC’s stated mission of promoting human rights.

He said,

Why do they try to hide their true colours? They should simply come out and state it, it’s already clear which side they’re on.

Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hemma also stated today that the long awaited NHRC report on the events of 2010 would do little to advance truth or justice. Instead, it will likely stick to the same narrative of the TRC report and point the finger at the Red Shirts.

Finally, UDD spokesperson Warawut Wichaidit congratulated the recent graduates from Sunday’s political school in Bangkok. He said he found comfort in the fact that so many people are still committed to democracy and want get involved politically. Chairwoman Tida also announced that the next course is to be held on the 21st of October at Pattaya.    

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