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A Call for Amnesty

Below is the English translation of the UDD’s statement that was released together with the draft amnesty decree.

January 15 2013

UDD Statement: A Call for Amnesty

The coup d’état of September 19th 2006 executed by the Council of Democratic Reform under the Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM), later renamed the Council of National Security (CNS), has provoked political turmoil and has caused a great divide in Thailand. This split is manifested most clearly in the form of political movements which disagree on the legitimacy of the actions of the coup-makers.

One faction advocated for the overthrow of a democratically-elected government and continues to defend the military coup. They do so on the grounds that the deposed government was led by “crony capitalists” and won elections by deception, vote-bribery, and the ignorance of the electorate. People adhering to this faction demanded that the military overthrow the government despite the fact that it had been elected by a majority of voters.

Another group has emerged in opposition to the 2006 coup d’état. The group grew into a political movement that defied those who prepared, executed, and supported the coup. The movement identified the coup d’état and the post-coup intrusions on Thailand’s democracy as the acts of an aristocratic network. For more than 5 years it has fought against the repercussions of the coup d’état which included the tearing up of the 1997 Constitution and the appointment of a puppet government. The aristocratic network also formed a committee to write a new constitution in order to control state apparatuses to suit its beliefs and interests.

Consequently, there have been large political rallies that have led to violence, arrests, criminal charges, injuries, and, in the most tragic cases, the loss of life. The repercussions of this political unrest have been felt by the entirety of Thai society that has witnessed the violent suppression of protesters, street massacres, and the imprisonment of fellow citizens on both sides of the conflict.

Although the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) does not agree with the political actions taken by some people in the pro-coup faction, they are fellow Thai citizens and should be granted amnesty for convicted or ongoing criminal cases. Ultimately, the responsibility should lie in the hands of movement leaders.

Until now, we have witnessed a political struggle that has caused pain, suffering, death, imprisonment, and convictions. Since the current democratically elected government has proven that it can run smoothly for more than a year, we have proposed to the Pheu Thai administration a draft amnesty decree which we believe would end the suffering that has afflicted both sides of the conflict.

Furthermore, an amnesty decree would bring political, economic, and social stability to Thailand’s fragile political climate. People in each group feel that they are not being treated fairly due to political biases and post-coup policies that have corrupted the investigative process and the rule of law. This has provoked anger and sorrow in the hearts of prisoners and their families. They have been locked up in jails while their rights to bail and to defend their cases in fair judicial processes are denied repeatedly. We fear for their mental and physical wellbeing.

Considering the concerns listed above, the UDD feels that a continuation of the status quo will do irreparable damage to the people of Thailand and to any future political, economic, and social stability. The government has a historic opportunity to alleviate part of the suffering which stands in the way of national reconciliation. The UDD urges the Government of Her Excellency Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to consider this draft amnesty decree and to put it into effect as soon as possible. This would represent a big step towards finding a sustainable solution for Thai society.

Sincerely,

the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship

 

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