Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is attending the 61st session of the UN General Assembly, sought to bring the situation under control by declaring State of
The military regime immediately took many repressive measures. The Head of the Mass Communications Organisation of Thailand Mingkwan Saengsuwan was arrested by the military for broadcasting Prime Minister Thaksin's address. Many Cabinet members and others deemed hostile by the military such as Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya and Supreme Commander Ruengroj Mahasaranont, Defence Minister General Thammarak Isarangkun and the pro-Thaksin television host Dusit Siriwan have been taken into custody.
Foreign news channels, including CNN and the BBC, were taken off the air. There is no news in Thai televisions and news has been replaced with only songs praising Thai King. Soldiers seized the
General Sonthi Boonyaratglin announced formation of the “Administrative Reform Council" (ARC) to run the country. In its third order, the ARC suspended the 1997 "people's constitution", dissolved both houses of parliament, the government and the constitution court. The announcements stated that the Council was under the King, and confirmed that the Privy Council and all courts except the
The same old justification:
The ARC justified the coup for the “social division” like never before, widespread reported corruption, failure to deliver services by the state units and independent organisations as specified in the Constitution and "lese majeste" actions against the revered King. The military stated that it had “no intention to rule but to return the power to the people as soon as possible, to preserve peace and honour the King who is the most revered to all Thais.”
In a country that has witnessed 18 coups since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, the story is nothing new. About 15 years back on 23 February 1991, a group of generals, including General Suchinda Kraypayoon, overthrew a democratically elected government and formed a National Peace-Keeping Council (NPKC).
There is uncanny similarities between the coups in February 1991 and September 2006. General Suchinda formed National Peace-Keeping Council. The ARC appointed the Regional Military Commanders as “Peace Keeping Directors”. It is another matter that in neighbouring
General Suchinda Kraypayoon promised to hold elections in six months. General Sonthi too promised to return power to the people although the elections are slated fo November 2006.
Suchinda himself promised he would not accept the post of Prime Minister and give rights to the people. Instead, the NKPC restricted human rights and fundamental freedoms, hounded political opponents like Professor Sulak Sivaraksa, under the charges of lese majeste and sought to rewrite sections of the constitution to give itself a permanent power base.
General Suchinda went to become the Prime Minister under dubious circumstances and his rule came to an end in a pro-democracy uprising in Bangkok between 17 and 20 May 1992. According to official report, at least 44 persons were killed, several hundred were injured and more than 100 remain unaccounted for after army opened fired on the peaceful demonstrators.
Former Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai commenting on the latest coup stated, “As politicians, we do not support any kind of coup, but during the past five years, the government of Thaksin created several conditions that forced the military to stage the coup. Thaksin has caused the crisis in the country."
While Thaksin is no saint and responsible for major political crisis in This absolute lack of accountability encourages the coups in Thailand.
This absolute lack of accountability encourages the coups in Thailand.
Coup d'etat: A threat to democracy all over the world
The latest coup d'etat in
His Majesty the King granted an audience to the Administrative Reform Council Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, head of the council, Navy Commander-in-Chief Adm Sathiraphan Keyanon, Air Force Commander-in-Chief ACM Chalit Pukphasuk and Supreme Commander Gen Ruangroj Mahasalanon at midnight on 19 September 2006.
The coup d'etat and subsequent measures taken by the military including suspension of the 1997 "people's constitution", dissolution of both houses of parliament, the government and the constitution court and detention of political leaders are illegal. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, United Nations and ASEAN countries must immediately intervene not to recognise the military regime, restore civilian authority and avoid future bloodbaths.
Asian Centre for Human Rights makes the following recommendations:
To His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej:
Issue a public statement to ensure that the audience granted is not mis-construed as supporting the military junta;
To the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council:
Invite Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to address the august bodies to send a clear message that the United Nations only recognizes civilian authorities in Thailand;
To the United States, European Union, ASEAN and other democratic countries:
Make official statements not to recognize the coup d'etat;