Friday, June 26, 2009

Amnesty International Speaks Up for Da Torpedo (No, not really)


Rights group Amnesty International urged Thailand on Friday to open the trial of a political campaigner charged with insulting the monarchy after it was closed for reasons of "national security."

Amnesty said the court's decision to bar the media and public from attending the trial of Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul, a "red shirt" supporter of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, could jeopardize her chances of receiving a fair hearing.

Darunee, 46, also known as "Da Torpedo," was arrested and charged with lese-majeste last July after delivering an exceptionally strong speech on the 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin.

"When a judge closes the doors on a trial it significantly raises the risk of injustice taking place," Amnesty's Asia-Pacific director, Sam Zarifi, said in a statement.

"The Thai government will have a very difficult time explaining why the trial of someone charged with making an insulting remark could compromise Thailand's national security.
"In this case, a fair trial means that the doors should remain open," Zarifi said.

This only demonstrates what a joke of an organization this is. Darunee is a political prisoner for making a political speech. End of story. There is not one good reason why this woman should be rotting in jail for a year. There really isn't a good reason for her to be tried.

Isn't Darunee a prisoner of conscience? She epitomizes what a prisoner of conscience is. She is in jail for making a political speech.

Now, let us examine Amnesty International by its own words and see how applicable its philosophy is to Thailand and how it purposely ignores Thailand.


From the Amnesty International website:

Working with and for individuals the world over, we campaign so that every person may enjoy all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We undertake research and take action aimed at preventing and ending grave abuses of these rights, demanding that all governments and other powerful entities respect the rule of law. It means we campaign globally and locally where ever we can make a difference. For example, we take action to:

  • Stop violence against women
  • Defend the rights and dignity of those trapped in poverty
  • Abolish the death penalty
  • Oppose torture and combat terror with justice
  • Free prisoners of conscience
  • Protect the rights of refugees and migrants
  • Regulate the global arms trade

On every account, it has ignored what is happening in Thailand.

How does Amnesty International work(In its own words)?

All our campaigning and research is fact based. Among the many activities we carry out, we:
  • send experts to talk with victims
  • observe trials
  • interview local officials
  • liaise with human rights activists
  • monitor global and local media
  • publish detailed reports
  • inform the news media
  • publicize our concerns in documents, leaflets, posters, advertisements, newsletters and websites
We help stop human rights abuses by mobilizing the public to put pressure on governments, armed political groups, companies and intergovernmental bodies via:
  • public demonstrations
  • vigils
  • letter-writing campaigns
  • human rights education
  • awareness-raising concerts
  • direct lobbying
  • targeted appeals
  • email petitions and other online actions
  • partnerships with local campaigning groups
  • community activities
  • co-operation with student groups

From where I am sitting, Amnesty does none of those things in Thailand.

Coincidentally, Bangkok Pundit has some thoughts on this as well.

In reflection, it is interesting to note that most of the English language blogging community on Thai politics has done more to bring attention to human rights and political abuses in Thailand than Amnesty International. Pathetic, really.


oneditorial said...

If she had not said that she would guillotine the member of the Thai establishment, I take the view that no one would have put her in prison. I believe that is why she is residing in jail.

Jotman said...

This could be an example of "mission creep" or the NGO equivalent.

My understanding is that Amnesty has recently sought to broaden its goals to include various wide-ranging human rights related concerns under its umbrella.

The argument, I think, was that such a strong brand could advance many more good causes. But only a few guys like Jack Welch are ever able to pull it off.

Lack of focus and conflicting priorities may the inevitable outcome of its expansive new mandate.