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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Prachatai: Open Letter to General Saprang

An Open Letter to Lieutenant General Saprang Kalayanamitr

Prachatai

31 August 2007

News

After Mr. Sombat Boon-ngam-anong, leader of an anti-coup group, was sued for libel by General Saprang Kalayanamitr, Deputy Commander in Chief, he had this open letter published in www.nocoup.org. Prachatai reprints it here.


An Open Letter to Lieutenant General Saprang Kalayanamitr


Dear Commander of Army Region 3,


The reason I address you as a Lieutenant General is because it is the actual rank you have earned honestly as an army officer. The titles, "General" and "Deputy Commander in Chief ", in my opinion, have been obtained illegitimately. You have obtained these ranks by abusing your power and after committing a severe breach of the constitution. Almost right after your complicity in the coup, you were bestowed with these titles by being promoted from Lieutenant General to General and appointed as Deputy Commander in Chief. They are the honours you received undeservedly after the coup. Therefore, I wish to address you simply as a Lieutenant General as the highest possible honour recognized by me and people in this country.


It is such an honour for an ordinary citizen like me to be a defendant in a libel suit initiated by you; the alleged slander of the "Hero of the Era". I shall not avoid confronting you in this legal wrangle. I shall represent myself in the court as I have many things to ask you during the hearing. I shall very much regret it if I miss the chance to ask you the questions myself.


I would like to ask you how my action can be deemed an insult to your human dignity? (The case stems from the mock darts game during the demonstration led by the anti-coup group in which the portrait of the ranking army officer was used as the target.) Do you have any idea why people like me dare to challenge your honour and dignity? The outrage we have shown towards you stems from the looting of sovereign power from the Thai people by you and your cronies. This includes the right to have a constitution that should be protected by law. But people who are upset by your action simply have no place to vent their frustration and rage since we have no state power, we have no tanks, we have no force, we have no "class". So people are not supposed to show their anger, but are simply allowed to hand flowers to the officers stationed at the tanks?


If dignity matters to you, I would like to ask you to also respect the human dignity of all Thai people as well. Will you also recognize equality under the law; will you recognize that sovereign power should lie with the people? They are supposed to have the rights to choose people to rule the country; choose their representatives to speak for them in the parliament. Can the military stop interfering with the police and the administration and refrain from suppressing dissenting voices among people?


Your dignity and mine must be recognized equally under a legitimate constitution.


I was arrested in Chiang Rai by your subordinates. Citing their power under martial law, they pulled me down from the truck roof when I was publicly criticizing the coup committed by the Council of National Security (CNS) and the draft constitution. This took place before the referendum. Your officers were dispatched directly from the Army Region 3 and they told me that they would treat me as a national traitor. They threatened to use the most severe possible legal action against me. They promised to investigate my past from the day I was born, and even my ancestors. I know that you have been well aware of the arrest throughout.


Do you know how kind the Chief of Intelligence Bureau of the Army Region 3 was to me (during my detention)? He told me that it was so easy for him to trick me. He could simply plant some illegal stuff on me, like drugs, while I was detained in the military barracks. Just that, and I could just end up languishing in jail for a long time. He told me he just did not want to do this. I am somewhat confused whether I should call his treatment toward me "generosity". Similarly, you have given an interview that you have "lifted death penalties for many people". And as for your phrase "to use machine guns to kill dogs at Sanam Luang", I would like to tell you as a human being who has lived my life around Sanam Luang (the main venue of the anti-coup demonstrations) for several months, your statement simply shows how much you are in thrall to power.


Between the oppressed and the arrogant rulers who are drunk with power, who is supposed to define the term "human dignity"? And if each group just interprets the term based on their own judgment, how different or similar will the definitions be?


Last but not least, I want to declare to you that I shall disobey state power that has been obtained illegitimately, particularly by the political military group, the CNS. I shall do my best to prevent the succession of power among the CNS members and shall challenge the martial law that has been declared since the 19 September 2006 coup. This is to reaffirm the dignity of Thai citizens which should be given a higher regard than the security touted by the CNS (which is not real national security anyway). Please do not withdraw your case against me. This is an important chance for us two to meet in the court.


In solidarity with democracy,


Sombat Boon-ngam-anong


The Citizens against Coup Group
31 August 2007

4 comments:

sooksiam said...

PAD's open letter to foreign embassies


The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)


Bangkok, Kingdom of Thailand




14 July 2006




To the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China


the President of the French Republic


the Prime Minister of the State of Japan


the President of the Russian Federation


the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


First of all, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) wishes to apologize for sending this open letter to you, after the Kingdom of Thailand's caretaker prime minister, Police Lieutenant Colonel Thaksin Shinawatra, traveled to several countries to explain the political situation in Thailand and there is evidence that he sent letters to some countries making misleading and derogatory allegations against the People's Alliance for Democracy. PAD is an alliance of people's organizations from all walks of life that has been calling for Pol Lt-Col Thaksin Shinawatra's resignation as prime minister since last February.


The People's Alliance for Democracy is worried that in the course of his visits to various countries Pol Lt-Col Thaksin Shinawatra may have made the same distortions and provided incorrect information to the leaders of those countries. If that was the case with you, we apologize once again, in the name of all Thai people, as the caretaker prime minister has shown that he does not know diplomatic usage, by explaining the domestic situation of Thailand to leaders of friendly countries without a specific request and outside of normal channels.


Above all, we must apologize for Thailand's caretaker prime minister making false statements for many times, as this is a most serious breach of manners between friendly countries. Furthermore, his statement also reflected his complete lack of understanding in the democratic process.


We wish to point out to you that the basic reason for our demonstrations demanding Pol Lt-Col Thaksin Shinawatra's resignation as prime minister is that we are determined to uphold the democratic system of our country with His Majesty the King as Head of State.


In the past five years that Pol Lt-Col Thaksin Shinawatra, as leader of the majority in the House of Representatives, has been in power, cases of corruption have multiplied, independent auditing mechanisms have been subverted and almost all members of both Houses of Parliament have been prevented from doing their duty, to the point that now the authentic spirit and substance of Thailand's democratic system with His Majesty the King as Head of State has been almost entirely destroyed through the handiwork of a tyrant born out of elections.


Freedom of information and freedom of political expression are basic to the democratic system, but Pol Lt-Col Thaksin Shinawatra, as prime minister, has been using his political power to suppress and circumvent such freedoms to a large extent in order to comfort his own power, as a great number of concrete examples show. These cases have been exposed in people's gatherings held in a peaceful, unarmed and nonviolent manner, which is a basic right of the people here as in other countries, to force Pol Lt-Col Thaksin Shinawatra to resign from the position of prime minister.


Pol Lt-Col Thaksin Shinawatra may have tried to tell you that he is the one who is endeavoring to uphold democracy by stressing that if he came back to exercise power again as caretaker prime minister it was to make sure that there would be a new round of elections - as if he were the only guardian and symbol of the democratic system in the country.


What Thai people, who believe strongly in the democratic model with His Majesty the King as Head of State, want to see is an efficient system of checks and balances, respect of the rights and freedoms of citizens, who are the collective holders of sovereignty, and, above all, equal and fair rules and regulations in the administration of the country, without recourse to unfair power to distort electoral mechanisms and to force civil servants to interfere in the electoral process and in the legislative system in favor of any one group, as had been the case for far too long.


We also believe in the freedom of speech through free press and media because democracy can not live up to its virtue with out such requirement.


The People's Alliance for Democracy thus takes this opportunity to set the record straight and hopes that this will contribute to the firm, durable and lasting friendship between our two peoples.


Respectfully yours,





The People's Alliance for Democracy


Lt Gen Jamlong Srimueang


Mr Sondhi Limthongkul


Mr Phiphop Thongchai


Mr Somsak Kosaisuk


Mr Somkiat Phongphaiboon


Taken from:

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2006/07/14/headlines/headlines_30008698.php

sooksiam said...

Open letter to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra


Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
Government House
Bangkok
Kingdom of Thailand


Paris, 7 November 2005

Dear Prime Minister,

When journalists recently asked you about the decline in press freedom in Thailand revealed by the Reporters Without Borders 2005 World Press Freedom Index, you said that in your view “Thai journalists have the maximum amount of freedom to do their work.” You added that you were ready to take Reporters Without Borders on a tour of newspaper offices so we could verify that journalists enjoy real freedom.

We thank you for this invitation which would doubtlessly allow us to appreciate your close relations with certain newspapers. But we prefer to question reporters, editors and press freedom activists ourselves. We would of course be very honoured to meet you in order to present to you directly our comments and proposals for guaranteeing press freedom in Thailand.

We believe there is an urgent need for your government to take a number of measures that would enable Thailand to get a better ranking in the 2006 index:

1. Withdraw all the criminal and civil defamation actions brought against journalists and press freedom activists by your lawyers or by members of your government or family, or by Shin Corp, a company controlled by your associates. It is inconceivable in a democracy that the most senior officials and their associates file lawsuits against journalists in such an abusive manner.

2. Abolish prison sentences for press offences by amending the criminal code. Countries such as Sri Lanka and Ghana have recently decriminalised defamation without any decline in the quality of the press being noted.

3. Ensure that impartial and exhaustive investigations are conducted into the murders of Santi Lammaneenil, the editor of the local Pattaya Post daily newspaper and a correspondent for Channel 7 television and the national dailies Khao Sod and Khom Chad Luek, and Pongkiat Saetang, the editor of the local Had Yai Post fortnightly newspaper. The instigators and perpetrators of the attempted murder of Manop Rattanacharungporn of the daily Matichon must also be punished as a matter of urgency.

4. Withdraw all the complaints brought by the authorities against the managers of community and commercial radio stations. Allow these stations to continue broadcasting while a definitive solution is found to the issue of frequency allocation.

5. Put an end to political and economic pressure on news media owners aimed at getting journalists fired or getting radio or TV programmes withdrawn, as was the case with Channel 9’s talk show.

6. Ensure that state advertising in the news media is allocated in a really fair and transparent manner.

The Reporters Without Borders index which you publicly questioned measures the state of press freedom throughout the world. It reflects the level of freedom enjoyed by journalists and news media in each country and the efforts undertaken by governments to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.

We are of course aware that your government and your associates do not have a monopoly of harassment or violence against the press. The index does not reflect just government abuses but also abuses by armed militia, clandestine organisations and pressure groups. In Thailand, criminal networks, corrupt local politicians and armed groups are also partly to blame for this deterioration in the situation of journalists.

We stand by our position that this world press freedom ranking, in which Thailand fell from 59th place in 2004 to 107th place in 2005, is based on hard facts and not on subjective interpretation.

We would also like to inform you that, for the first time in 15 years, Reporters Without Borders has decided to carry out field investigations into the state of press freedom in Thailand and recent violations of freedom of expression there with a view to publishing a report. We will send you a copy so that you can have a better understanding of our evaluation of the situation.

Prime Minister, there are simple measures that can be taken to improve press freedom in Thailand and it is your duty to halt this sharp decline. Do not lose this chance to keep your country at the forefront of the struggle for democracy in a region where press freedom already has enough problems.

Sincerely,

Robert Ménard
Secretary-General


Taken from

http://www.rsf.org/print.php3?id_article=15547

Fonzi said...

Sookie-

If you are going to spam up my blog with this stuff, you should at least put in the proper categories, thanks.

Indeed, neither of those letters justifies any of General Saprang's dodgy activities.

Matty said...

I agree with Fonzi on this one and on another Fonzi article about Saprang's ineptitude or graft or both at TOT.

Saprang is just the type of General the Thai public should be wary of.