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Monday, January 31, 2011

Thailand 'red shirts' petition ICC to review violence during Bangkok protests
Ann Riley at 2:49 PM ET

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[JURIST] Thailand's "red shirt" [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] pro-democracy movement on Monday petitioned [press release] the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to launch a preliminary investigation into whether the government committed crimes against humanity during the Bangkok protests [JURIST news archive] last spring. The application for petition [text, PDF] cites specific evidence developing a substantial basis to show that international crimes of murder, imprisonment and other severe deprivation of physical liberty, other inhumane acts, and persecution were committed in conjunction with the suppression of red shirt protests. Evidence obtained from multiple active-duty officers of the Royal Thai Army [official website, in Thai] recounts the planning and execution of the military response to the red shirts. The application also includes reports from Thai law enforcement officials knowledgeable of the official investigation conducted by the Thai Department of Special Investigations (DSI) into the killings of protesters. Representing the red shirts and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) [advocacy website], Robert Amsterdam stated:
This case represents a historic opportunity for international justice to confront governments who deploy their militaries to use violence against their own citizens. In light of repeated violent crackdowns throughout Thai history, this legal filing represents the first comprehensive attempt to obtain the facts and evidence of what happened during the 2010 massacres, let alone publish them before the public. What we have exposed is not just a botched security operation, but rather a determined policy of extermination and elimination of the Red Shirt movement by the military. These egregious violations require answers and accountability.
Amsterdam's firm, Amsterdam & Peroff, LLP [law firm website] also represents former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], a figurehead for the democratic red shirts, who is currently living in exile after being ousted during a 2006 coup [JURIST report]. In August, the Supreme Court of Thailand [GlobaLex backgrounder] denied Thaksin's appeal [JURIST report] contesting the seizure of his assets. In July, the criminal division of Supreme Court issued a new arrest warrant [JURIST report] against him and Thai police recommended terrorism charges [DPA report] against Thaksin and 24 others for their alleged involvement in the Bangkok protests.

In March, the red shirts began protesting the current Thai government [JURIST report] and called for elections. The conflict, leaving more than 80 dead, ended after nearly two months when protesters surrendered to police [JURIST report]. In May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacywebsite] expressed concern [JURIST report] about the treatment of anti-government protesters detained during the political violence. The group chided the Thai government for enacting an emergency decree giving Thai security forces broad power to arrest individuals without formal charges and hold them in secret detention. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva [official profile; JURIST news archive] promised an independent investigation [JURIST report] into the clashes between security forces and the red shirts. Abhisit discussed plans for reconciliation aimed at helping the country heal and pledged that due process of law would play an important role in the reconciliation, and that all people would be encouraged to participate in the democratic process. During their protests, the red shirts demanded that Abhisit resign and called for new elections. The Thai government implemented a curfew [JURIST report] in Bangkok and other areas of the country in response to violence that erupted when the leader of the red shirts announced an end to the protests. It was later lifted [JURIST report] in August.




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