I have just received this letter from the UDD, or the Redshirt group fighting for democracy in Thailand,
today (April 19). I believe that the world needs to hear their voices, as they have been silenced and
systematically marginalized in the Thai mainstream media.
Here is the letter that, I believe, has been sent to the UN General Secretary:
National United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD)
Kingdom of Thailand
20th April 2009
Mr. Ban Ki-moon
UN Headquarters First Avenue at 46th Street New York, NY 10017
United States of America
Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
We are writing to solemnly beg you to condemn the Government of Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, the present government of Thailand, for its recent brutal crackdown on unarmed civilian demonstrators peacefully seeking a true democracy under a constitutional monarchy.
On the 14th of April, Mr. Abhisit announced an Emergency Decree so that he could use military force to crush a gathering of unarmed civilians clad in red shirts known as the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) or as the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD). Hundreds of red shirts where killed and many others severely injured. This barbaric act inflicted by the current Thai Government on its own people was totally blocked from the eyes of the domestic and international public. This deception was possible because the Government cut off all types of communication signals and gateways, especially those used among the red shirts.
Nonetheless, many horrific and brutal acts were captured by the cameras of individual participants of the demonstration. Moreover, we trust that you may have seen some of the barbarous acts recorded by the major international networks, namely CNN and the BBC among others. We, the red shirts, are not violent and the cause that hundreds of thousands of us are peacefully pursuing is the restoration of a true democracy based on parliamentary elections.
Alas, our worthy cause and our employment of civil and political freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution of Thailand, the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which Thailand as a member of the United Nations has signed and ratified, were met by heavy military force by the order of the unelected and military-appointed Abhisit Government.
Factually, what we want to emphasize is as follows:
We, the red shirts from all walks of life are peace-loving and law-abiding. On many occasions since late 2008 we have gathered in great numbers to voice our sincere demand for the restoration of true democracy in Thailand. We have come unarmed and these gatherings have all been completely free of violence. The violence in Pattaya, where the recent ASEAN Summit Plus 6 Meeting was held and the subsequent Fourth East Asian Summit was to be held, and in Bangkok on the 14th of April, was instigated by an outside group some of whom were disguised in red and navy blue shirts and whom we believe to be affiliated with the Abhisit Government. Mr. Newin Chidchob, a key supporter of the current Government, commanded the actual attack against the unarmed red shirts wearing a navy blue shirt. The red shirts were there only to express before our fellow ASEAN Members and the other six countries our objection to the Abhisit Government. The violent situation was fabricated in order to put blame on the red shirts in order to justify the announcement of the first Emergency Decree and the use of military force. This fact illustrates that the Abhisit Government is not prepared to respect the freedom of peaceful expression guaranteed by both the Thai Constitution and international law pertaining to human rights.
It is known nationally and internationally that the Abhisit Government was brought into office by the military and powerful, unelected groups within Thai society. This shameful means of protecting power and privilege are against the will of the majority of the Thai people. Must we be forced against our will to accept a government we did not choose?
We would like to emphasize that our plea for true Democracy is not because we want to have power over the existing Government or anyone else. We believe and trust that everyone whether they are red shirts or yellow shirts (members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy or PAD) are equal under a true Democracy and must be treated accordingly. Thus, we are calling for the Abhisit Government to dissolve Parliament and to return the power to choose our Government back to the Thai people. By doing so, we demand the Abhisit Government use the popular and democratic Constitution of 1997, which was torn up and replaced by the 2006 military coup leaders in their attempt to reduce the power of the Thai electorate. Are we asking too much from the Abhisit Government that claims to be the government of the Thai people?
If the Abhisit Government is truly the government of the Thai people, why is it afraid to return power back to the people? We would be prepared to accept Mr. Abhisit as our Prime Minister, if he had been chosen by the democratic process. In this respect we contrast strongly with the yellow shirts, who sought to destroy the Thai economy in order to remove three democratically elected prime ministers and who, with the aid of the powerful military and civilian figures were successful in their undemocratic agenda.
It is clear to the Thai public that the current President of the Privy Council, General Prem Tinsulanonda, and certain other privy councilors have interfered in Thai politics all along. The political chaos in Thailand over the past four (4) years is no exception. Their interference has thwarted the administration of democratically elected governments. General Prem and the other councilors are not directly responsible to the Thai people nor are they granted such powers by the Constitution of Thailand, yet they have effectively undermined the ability of the elected governments to work for the Thai people as a whole. Their only legitimate role as defined in the Constitution is as the King’s advisers. As it is obvious that the current President of the Privy Council has not performed his role in good faith, we demand that he and certain of his fellow privy councilors resign.
We are not in the least anti-monarchist as has been claimed by the Abhisit Government and its yellow shirt supporters. We regard the Monarchy as a precious national institution that has held the Thai nation together for centuries. Indeed, it is because of our love for the Monarchy that we must speak out against the unconstitutional role played by the President of the Privy Council and some of his fellow privy councilors. It is their illegal actions that risk impeding true democracy in Thailand, as well as tarnishing the image of our beloved King.
Thus, when we are speaking against the acts of the current President of the Privy Council and some of his fellow councilors we do not in any shape or form criticize His Majesty the King. The Privy Council, though close to the King for the purpose of giving its opinion when asked, is not in any way regarded as the Monarchy itself.
Points 4 and 5 above may seem to be internal affairs that do not concern the international community. However, we feel that it is crucial to state our position internationally so that we are not misrepresented to the world.
During PM Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s democratically elected Government it was Mr. Abhisit, the then leader of the opposition party, together with the yellow shirts that made the scandalous and unfounded claim that PM Thaksin was not loyal to the King. The allegation gathered momentum such that, with no time to prove otherwise, the Thaksin Government was brought to an end by a military coup on the 19th of September, 2006. Staging the coup to oust the democratically elected government was an obnoxious abuse of power based on a lie.
Should we as peace-loving, law-abiding citizens of the world allow or accept the use of military force to suppress the general free will of the people in this 21st century?
From a legal standpoint, we ask that you consider the following in light of international law:
The Abhisit Government is acting in contravention to/or against the rules and principles set out in the Thai Constitution, the Charter of the United Nations, and the International Bill of Rights, which includes the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which documents Thailand as a member nation of the United Nations has signed and ratified.
The acts of the Abhisit Government and of its allied groups (including the Government of General Surayud Chulanont – the military appointed government formed after the 2006 coup) that helped the current Government come to power is clearly against the determination of the Members of the UN to establish “conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”.
The judiciary has been misused by the Abhisit Government to get rid of political rivals. The Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT), led by former PM Thaksin, which received landslide votes in two consecutive general elections, was dissolved. The legal grounds used by the Constitutional Court of Thailand to dissolve the TRT could equally have been applied to Mr. Abhisit’s Democrat Party, but the Democrat Party was not dissolved. The People’s Power Party (PPP), the successor to the TRT led by Mr. Samak Sundaravej, won the first general election after the coup despite all attempts by the army and courts to alienate this party. The PPP however suffered the same fate as the TRT. PM Samak was ordered by the Constitutional Court to leave office for moonlighting by hosting a private cooking show on Thai TV. Factually, PM Samak received a nominal amount of money to buy ingredients for the show, but this is apparently prohibited by law (as written by military appointed counsel) and he was forced to resign. To arrive at this harsh decision which defies the spirit of the law, the Constitutional Court made reference to a dictionary to clarify the legal situation instead of using the relevant labor laws, as it should have. Had the reference been made to the relevant labor laws as taught in Thai law schools, PM Samak would have been exonerated. These examples of legal double standards illustrate the desperate lengths that the establishment and opposition are prepared to go in their attempts to undermine democracy in Thailand.
We also find it ironic that while Mr. Samak was forced to leave the prime ministerial post following the decision of the Constitutional Court, at least one member of the Court, though we suspect many more, also moonlight for private companies in a professional capacity and continues to do so with impunity to this day. The use of such double standards cannot form the basis of a transparent and equitable society.
PM Somchai Wongsawat who succeeded PM Samak shared a similar fate when the PPP was dissolved by what many independent observers have diplomatically referred to as “bizarre court decisions”. Once again, the Democrat Party could also have been dissolved under the terms of the Constitutional Court’s decision but it was not touched. With the three leading parties of the governing coalition (PPP, Chart Thai & Machima Thipataya) swept out of the way the Democrats became the Government by default. Ironically, the Court ruling dissolving the PPP was delivered against the backdrop of the illegal seizure of the Suvarnabhumi Airport by the Democrat-backed yellow shirts. It seems unfair that such criminal actions on the part of the yellow shirts and their Democrat Party backers should be rewarded so blatantly. Such an outcome painfully reiterates the entrenched forces of privilege and class in this country to the detriment of the majority of the Thai electorate.
All this could not have been possible in a society where the legal system was based on equal rights for all as enshrined in international law such as Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under the Abhisit Government, ALL are NOT equal under the law. This stance by the current Government flies in the face of international norms.
If being equal under the law means that everyone, regardless of who he or she is, must be tried fairly with due process for their violation of the law, then this is not the meaning the Abhisit Government takes. While the process of bringing the yellow shirts, who committed many serious crimes against the Thai nation, to justice has been excruciatingly slow to the point that even a reputable foreign journal like the Economist believes that justice may not be done or that it may be compromised, the process of bringing the red shirts to justice has been extremely quick.
We do not believe that any credible legal system would regard as trivial the illegal seizure of two major international airports by the yellows shirts. Yet somehow the Abhisit Government expects us and the world to exonerate the yellow shirts. In fact, Mr. Abhisit even appointed one of the main instigators of the illegal seizure of the Suvarnabhumi Airport as his foreign minister! This appointment of a known terrorist to an important ministerial post does not bode well for Thai Democracy.
The Abhisit Government does not respect the idea of free human beings to enjoy civil and political freedom as proclaimed by both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
More specifically, his Government takes no heed of different opinions and in fact regards those holding different opinions as his enemies. The current Government segregates the Thai people according to their political views. Worst of all Mr. Abhisit recently announced that the red shirts are the enemy of the nation. This stance is not the action of a leader who unites his country.
If the unarmed and peaceful red shirts are the enemy of the country as Mr. Abhisit is claiming, is he then suggesting that the heavily armed and violent yellow shirts who seized the international airports and stranded many thousands of tourists and Thais alike are the good friends of the country?
The Abhisit Government fails to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly specified under Article 20(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The peaceful and unarmed gathering of the red shirts is seen as a threat to the Abhisit Government. If there is anything “threatening” about the red shirts, it would be the gigantic number of ordinary people who come from nearly every part of Thailand and who come peacefully to demand the dissolution of Parliament. Thus, if we were to be a threat at all, we would only be a threat to the unelected Government of Mr. Abhisit and not the country or the Thai people. Therefore, the acts of the Abhisit Government to suppress the red shirts are in fact a significant threat to fundamental human rights (i.e., to enjoy civil and political freedom as guaranteed by the Thai Constitution and many international conventions which Thailand has signed and ratified). It is the acts of the Abhisit Government that are a threat to the Thai Nation and the Thai People.
We, the red shirts, have made firm commitments that our movements or gatherings must comply with the rights granted by the Thai Constitution (i.e., peaceful, unarmed and lawful gatherings). We hold such commitments in our hearts and have consistently followed the law. We genuinely believe that the voice of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding and peace-loving red shirts would be heard, but for the brutal and inhumane response of the Abhisit Government. You may have noticed that the gathering of hundreds of thousands of the red shirts since 26th March in the tropical heat was without violence until the early morning of 14th April when the army began shooting, which inevitably led to a riot and the full suppression of unarmed red shirts by armed military forces.
In light of the above facts, we are asking you to condemn the Abhisit Government for its announcement of the Emergency Decree in order that it could use military force to bloodily suppress the peaceful and unarmed gathering of the true Democracy loving people of Thailand. We also implore you to urge the Abhisit Government to dissolve Parliament in order to arrange a general election under the 1997 Constitution.
We are making this urgent appeal to you because we lack the means to tell the world that our fundamental human rights are being brutally crushed and we cannot rely on internal legal institutions to help us at this time as they have been corrupted to one degree or another. Please, please Mr. Secretary-General, do what you can to help us.
Thank you very much for your valuable time and attention.