Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Deconstructing Kavi: The Nation's Chief Apologist for Military Junta's Human Rights Record

US report criticises Thailand for commtting extra judicial killings

Kavi Chongkittavorn

The Nation

The US government's latest human rights report has criticised Thailand for its excessive use of force against criminals, committing extrajudicial killings and the culture of "impunity".

The report released on Tuesday is a systematic analysis of human rights conditions in Thailand last year. It covers the whole gamut of issues related to human rights during the last nine months of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the remaining three months following the coup.

This report was more like a follow up to what happened in the years before, especially in key areas that relate to human rights violations in southern Thailand, disappearances and press freedom. Nonetheless, it has specifically mentioned the Emergency Decree that gives the power and immunity to security forces from prosecution.

One of the darkest spots for Thailand, as pointed out in the report, is the Thai police engaging in torture and beating and abusing detainees and prisoners with impunity. That helps to explain why one of the top priorities of the interim government has been police reform.

Existing self censorship by the media and nongovernmental organisations was mentioned in the report due to the use of defamation suits and charges of sedition.

Although the annual report was the source of discord between Thailand and the US, especially under Thaksin, the interim government under Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont won't be reacting to the report as the previous government used to do.

"The government has constantly tried to improve the human rights condition in the country. We also adhere to the nonuse of force in the southern provinces," said a senior government official, who asked not to be identified.

What about the rangers shooting spree a couple days ago?

The report also provided detailed developments of the condition of press freedom and freedom of expression that existed before and after the coup. While the report generally commended the spirit of free press among the printed media after the 19 September coup, there were hiccups in broadcast media, especially TV and Internet, as well as dissemination of information and views related to the monarchy.

On the day of the coup and the ensuing two weeks, as the report correctly pointed out, there were several short-term measures affecting the report and performance of Thai media. These measures included outright censorship, self-censorship, blocking the signal of TV networks such as CNN and the BBC and the ban of radio call-ins and short messages on TV. Following a two-week ban on community radios following the coup, they resumed broadcasting.

When Thaksin went on a public relations campaign by giving interviews to foreign media in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, the coup leaders sought cooperation from the mass media to limit the dissemination of news related to the deposed leaders. The local media heavily criticised their interference.

The local media, especially The Nation, has been the junta's poodle. And now that Surayud has saved iTV, Big Ad will get all the praise in the world for the rest of his tenure from those self-serving selfish brats at iTV.

The report has this observation: "During the remainder of the year, printed and broadcast media nonetheless reported news critical of the interim government and Council for National Security and continued to report the statements and activities of the former prime minister."

Instead of reading Kavi's shameless pro-junta spin of the human rights report, you can read it for yourself here

I also think it is interesting that Kavi totally ignores the major social issues that are addressed in the report that have nothing to do with either Thaksin or the junta.

I think the plight of immigrant workers, the horrible state of the court system, and lack of labor protection are important issues as well.

But the lousy Nation reporters can't see anything beyond their Thaksin obsession and their duty to kiss the junta's ass.

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