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Red Shirt Grassroots Speak Out

Thai Red Shirts (TRS) traveled to the province of Nonthaburi to hear from grassroots Red Shirt activists. The following is a summary of a discussion with more than 50 Red Shirts on the past, present, and future of their political activism.

TRS: Why did you first get involved in the Red Shirt movement?

Something went terribly wrong in this country in 2006. The injustice that we have suffered since the coup d’état compelled us to mobilize and organize.

TRS: Who among you voted for Thaksin Shinawatra?

[Everybody raises their hands]

TRS: Why did you vote for him?

He implemented policies that had an extremely positive impact on our lives. The 30 baht health care scheme in particular greatly improved our quality of living, allowing many of us to get the medical care we could not afford previously. 

The Village Development Fund also helped us build our community’s economy and infrastructure. The money was managed locally and collectively. Many of us work in agriculture so a loan system was developed to help people develop their crops.

Most importantly, Thaksin gave us faith in the democratic process and proved that politicians could respond to the needs of voters.

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Calls for Amnesty Intensify

Red Shirts across Thailand have amplified their calls for the government to grant amnesty to all political prisoners still suffering in jail. These calls have increased in intensity following the Criminal Court’s decision to sentence prominent Red Shirt activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to 10 years imprisonment for allegedly violating Thailand’s lèse majesté law. The verdict has prompted major outcries from local and international critics who have condemned the sentence as a political maneuver.

UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam traveled to Bangkok this week to express solidarity with Somyot. During his visit with Somyot in Bangkok Remand Prison on Monday, Amsterdam told the press that

The charges against Somyot are being used by the opposition who are against free speech and human rights. They are the reason we are here visiting our friends in jail.

(more…)

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Charges Against Abhisit Far from “Far Fetched”- UDD Lawyer

UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam has recently made public a letter addressed to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), dated October 31st 2012, which outlines the strong case for Mr Abhisit’s criminal liability for the deaths of April-May 2010.

The following summary was published on his website:

Social media is abuzz with reactions to an interview that former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva gave to the BBC. Looking flustered in answering the uncomfortable questions posed by interviewer Mishal Husain, Mr. Abhisit described the charges of pre-meditated murder recently filed against him as “far fetched.”

In light of the coverage generated by the BBC interview, we are releasing to the public the content of a letter my firm submitted to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 31 October 2012. The letter focuses exclusively on Mr. Abhisit’s criminal liability, providing a comprehensive treatment of Mr. Abhisit’s involvement and individual responsibility for the commission of crimes against humanity in April and May 2010.

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Murder Charges About Accountability and Justice- UDD Lawyer

UDD Lawyer Robert Amsterdam

On Monday, UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam argued in an article on his website that the recent murder charges brought against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban are acts of legal justice, not politics as the Democrat party claims.

Amsterdam wrote the following:

Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, with the assistance of media outlets eager to run with the Democrat Party’s official line, have rationalized the murder charges recently filed against them as part of a scheme to bring Thaksin Shinawatra back to Thailand. The charges, they claim, are designed to squeeze them into accepting an amnesty bill that would guarantee them immunity from prosecution in exchange for vacating Mr. Thaksin’s conviction on a dubious conflict of interests charge. They should be so lucky.

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Pitak Siam and the NACC- UDD Lawyer Assesses Risk of Coup

UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam posted an article on his blog outlining the threat of a coup by the Thai elites in light of this weekend’s rally by right-wing group Pitak Siam. Particular attention should be paid to paragraph discussing the powers of the Senate and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to impeach the Prime Minister and other members of parliament:

As of its latest proclamation, the anti-democracy movement Pitak Siam stated that the goal of its November 24 demonstration in Bangkok is to force the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign. Even Pitak Siam knows that a government elected by large margins less than eighteen months ago will not find a demonstration of (at best) a few tens of thousands of people a compelling enough reason to resign, especially given its robust majority in parliament and strong support in opinion polls. The idea that a small minority should trump the will of the majority of the electorate does not wash in twenty-first century Thailand. This is not your great-grandfather’s old Siam.

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Red Shirts to Monitor Pitak Siam Rally

After an appeal to the international community in Bangkok to closely monitor the Pitak Siam rally on the 24th of November was issued by the UDD earlier this week, Red Shirt lawyer Robert Amsterdam published the following statement on his website:

Following a visit to Thailand by U.S. President Barack Obama in which he expressed support for the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Red Shirt groups are announcing plans to monitor and expose the financial supporters of an upcoming march against democracy by an extremist group backed by the Democrat Party.

According to Robert Amsterdam, lawyer to the Red Shirt group United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), this evidence gathering will also extend to any acts of violence, threats of violence and any other criminal enterprise associated with the anti-democratic extremists and its backers. (more…)

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UDD Lawyer Amsterdam Makes Case for ICC Jurisdiction

On Sunday, UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam posted an article that lists all the reasons why Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Surapong Tovichakchaikul should grant the ICC jurisdiction over the crimes against humanity that were committed in April-May 2010. The article, entitle “Answering the Call of History in Thailand”, makes a strong case for why ICC involvement would benefit Thailand.

Although Thailand is not a State party to the Rome Statute, article 12(3) of the statute states that non-member States can grant the ICC jurisdiction by issuing a unilateral declaration that would allow the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to open a preliminary examination into the case. Bensouda has already stated that she will open such an examination if the Pheu Thai government were to grant the ICC jurisdiction through a 12(3) declaration. Amsterdam argues that the FM is

on the verge of signing a document that might change the course of Thai history.

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ICC Prosecutor in Bangkok: What You Need to Know

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, is in Bangkok to meet with Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Surapong Tovichakchaikul. They will discuss the possibility of launching an investigation into the protests of April-May 2010.

UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam recently published, on his blog, the following set of Q&A regarding the ICC application:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Question: What is the ICC and why is the prosecutor in Thailand?

Answer: The ICC is located in The Hague. The ICC is established by a treaty known as the Rome Statute of the ICC. One hundred twenty-one countries have joined the treaty. Thailand has signed, but not ratified the Rome Statute. Thailand is therefore not a party to the treaty.

UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam filed an application with the Prosecutor of the ICC on January 30 2011, requesting a preliminary investigation into the protests that occurred in Thailand between April-May 2010, where 98 civilians were killed and thousands injured.

The application alleges that crimes against humanity were committed against civilian protesters. Although the ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, only crimes against humanity are alleged in the application relating to Thailand. There is no basis to allege genocide or war crimes.

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