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All Eyes on Pitak Siam Rally- An Open Letter to the International Community

The UDD has sent the following letter to foreign ambassadors in Bangkok, outlining the threat to democracy posed by the upcoming Pitak Siam rally on the 24th of November.

In the letter, UDD leader Tida urges the international community to pay attention to the Pitak Siam rally and asks individual governments to condemn any potential efforts to topple Thailand’s current, democratically elected, government. 

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Why the World Should Stand With the Red Shirts

Over the course of recent months, Thai Red Shirts (TRS) has had the opportunity to speak to Red Shirt activists at UDD rallies, political schools, and in their communities around Thailand. Our discussions have provided an honest look into the values and principles that make the Red Shirt movement one of the most popular social movements in Southeast Asia, if not the world. While the West falls deeper into a state of political apathy, the Red Shirts continue to reach out to millions of Thais who are experiencing a political awakening, the likes of which Thailand has never witnessed.

Despite internationally held misconceptions that have been successfully promoted by opposition forces, Red Shirt activists are first and foremost concerned with ensuring a democratic future for Thailand. Without exception, every Red Shirt interviewed by TRS stated that their primary concern was the weak state of Thai democracy. Although the majority of Red Shirt activists are old enough to have experienced many military coups, the coup in 2006 shocked the majority of them into action because it toppled Thailand’s most popular elected figure and brought an end to an unprecedented 14 years of democratic progress.

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“We Fight for Democracy and Justice”- Red Shirt Villagers Speak Out

Thai Red Shirts (TRS) recently traveled to the Khon Kaen province in the North-Eastern region of Isaan to hear from Red Shirt villagers themselves.

The villagers shared their thoughts on everything from the rice pledging program, to revoking Abhisit’s university degree from Oxford.

TRS: Why did you first get involved in the Red Shirt movement? What was the main issue?

We were appalled by the coup in 2006. The amaat refused to accept the people’s choice. The vast majority of us are Thaksin supporters, about 95%, and we started seriously mobilizing in 2008 when we came to Bangkok as Red Shirts to join in the protests.

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“I Support the ICC Because I Want to End Impunity”- Dr Thongchai Winichakul

Thai Red Shirts (TRS) recently held an interview with Dr Thongchai Winichakul to discuss Thailand’s historic opportunity to grant the International Criminal Court (ICC) ad hoc jurisdiction over the events of 2010 and the emergence of the anti-democratic group Pitak Siam.

Dr Thongchai is a specialist in the intellectual and cultural history of Thailand and a professor at the University of Wisconsin in the USA. He was a leader in the pro-democracy student protests of the 1970s and was imprisoned after the Thammasat massacre of 1976.

TRS: You have come out strongly in favour of the ICC in Thailand. Why?

Dr Thongchai: Because I want to end impunity. I’m not a member of the UDD, nor do I agree with them on everything, but I’m definitely sympathetic to them when it comes to the killings of 2010. [UDD lawyer] Robert Amsterdam informed me that the ICC was taking their application seriously and that my involvement would be beneficial, so I joined him.

The fact that the ICC prosecutor came to Bangkok to sit down with the Foreign Minister (FM) is a major step. To this day, many people in Thailand don’t believe that the ICC path would be helpful, or even possible. But the visit from the ICC prosecutor is proof that this is serious. If there were no grounds for Amsterdam’s application to the ICC then the case would have been thrown away a long time ago. (more…)

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International Legal Experts Urge PM to Accept ICC Jurisdiction

The letter below was sent by two experts on the International Criminal Court (ICC), Professor Douglass Cassel and Professor Alexander Knoops, to Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The letter urges the PM to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC over the crimes committed against civilians in April-May 2010.

The two main reasons provided by the experts in support of the ICC’s jurisdiction are 1) the demands of the victims for justice, and 2) to end the cycle of military crackdowns in Thailand.

Professors Cassel and Knoops also address several inaccurate arguments raised by opponents to the ICC’s involvement.  They confirm that jurisdiction can be granted on an ad hoc basis through issuing a declaration. In addition, they reaffirm that there is no need for parliamentary approval of the declaration since it is a unilateral act of the government, and not a treaty. They also make it clear that signing the declaration will leave primary responsibility for investigating the events with the Thai courts. Only if the Thai authorities prove unwilling or unable to bring the perpetrators to justice, will the ICC step in. (more…)

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Government Must Act Now on ICC – UDD Leadership

On Friday, the UDD leadership sent a resounding message to the Pheu Thai government: act now on the International Criminal Court (ICC), or risk facing another coup on your own. One after another, Red Shirt leaders called on Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul to issue the 12(3) declaration that would grant the ICC ad hoc jurisdiction to begin a preliminary examination of evidence regarding alleged crimes of humanity committed during April-May 2010.

ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, stated during her visit to Bangkok last week that, if given the green light by the government, the ICC will initiate a preliminary examination of the events to determine whether to proceed with an investigation. Over a week later, the government has yet to show any signs of progress, fueling the growing frustration among Red Shirts.

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Letter from ICC to Dr Weng

Last week, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the following letter to Pheu Thai MP and Red Shirt leader Dr Weng.

The letter outlines the steps that need to be taken by the Thai government in order to accept the ICC’s jurisdiction with regards to international crimes (crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide), since Thailand is not a State Party to the Rome Statute.

This letter reaffirms that Thailand does not need to sign the treaty in order to grant jurisdiction. Instead, the government may issue a declaration that states that Thailand accepts the ICC’s jurisdiction, in accordance with Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute. The declaration can be sent as a letter to the ICC. The letter should state clearly the situation over which the government accepts the ICC’s jurisdiction. The government may also include documents that relate to the alleged crimes in question.

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UDD On Guard as Pitak Siam Calls for Military Coup

In Pattaya on Sunday, the UDD leadership urged vigilance and caution as anti-democratic forces gather under the banner of the newly formed Pitak Siam (Protecting Siam). Red Shirt leaders spoke to over 2,000 activists, who gathered for the UDD’s third political school of the year, about the growing threat of yet another military coup in Thailand.

UDD Chairwoman Tida said,

We are witnessing the emergence of Pitak Siam who are calling on the military to stage yet another coup. They are supported by the same elites that supported the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). They have lost their influence and they want it back.

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