Amnesia on Thai military junta
By – Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR at the
"We are not the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister is not our boss," - General Winai Phattiyakul, Secretary of the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) formed by the Thai military junta after the coup d'etat on 19 September 2006 while spelling out the way Thailand will be ruled. 
The ongoing second session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in
As we upload this issue of ACHR WEEKLY REVIEW today, the United Nations Human Rights Council started the debate on the situation of human rights in
The coup d'etat in
In this context, the intentions of the military junta must be examined carefully.
I. Timing of the coup d'etat and intention of the military Junta
Undoubtedly, Thaksin Shinawatra's rule in
Since elections were slated for November 2006, what was the unnecessary hurry to make a military intervention unless the military had the intention to rule the country by taking advantage of alleged abuse of majority in parliament by Thaksin Shinawatra.
II. Seeking legitimacy through a proxy
Was the intervention of the military primarily because of the speculation that Thaksin would have won the November 2006 elections as suggested by many?
The declaration that for one year, the military junta will not hand over power to the people indicate that intervention was made to establish military rule than mere prevention of Thaksin coming to power. General Winai stated that the CDRM would transform itself into the Council for National Security (
III. Excuse for extended rule: Drafting a Constitution
If the military junta were interested to return power to the people, there was no need for the suspension of the 1997 Constitution, the best one
Was the best constitution of
The process suggested by the CDRM to draft a new constitution is not democratic by any yardstick. The CDRM suggested that the
The junta is seeking to “guide democracy” in
IV. Continued rights violations: The real face of the junta
There have been serious violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the military junta.
a. Violations of the right to freedom of association and assembly
Since 21 September 2006, formation of new political parties has been banned in clear violations of the Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The assembly of more than five persons and political party meetings have also been banned in violation of the Article 21 of the ICCPR.
b. Violations of the right to freedom of expression
The freedom of expression and opinion is under serious threat. Among others, 300 community radio stations in six
The ban on community radio stations are exactly similar to the ban imposed by King Gyanendra in
c. Arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention without being produced before any court of law
A number of political leaders allegedly close to the deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and those who have been exercising the right to freedom of association and assembly have been put under arrest without being produced before the court of law. On 20 September 2006, a group of democracy activists led by former Member of Parliament (MP) Chalard Vorachat were arrested from
On 21 September 2006, former natural resources and environment minister Yongyuth Tiyapairat, and former Prime Minister's Office Minister Newin Chidchob were detained. In addition, Chitchai Wannasathit, former Deputy Prime Minister and senior aide Prommin Lertsuridej have also been taken into custody.
These political leaders have been detained without any order from the courts. Nor have they been produced before any court of law. They are also being held incommunicado.
V. Between the lines: The opinion of His Majesty on the junta
Within a week, the military junta has changed its name thrice. First, it named itself as “Administrative Reform Council”.
Second, in order to give itself the tag of democrats and approval of His Majesty King, it soon renamed itself as “Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy” (CDRM).
On 26 September 2006, the junta once again renamed itself as “the Council for Democratic Reform, or CDR” and removed “under Constitutional Monarchy” on the pretext of “misunderstanding and false interpretation in some countries and for some foreign media on the role of the monarchy”.
The latest renaming has three connotations. First, the coup d'etat does not have the approval of the His Majesty. Second, the junta is seeking to undermine His Majesty. Third, His Majesty wants to dissociate from the measures being taken by the junta.
The CDR has been desperate for a credible, respectable and acceptable Interim Prime Minister such as Supachai Panitchpakdi, the Secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development to provide legitimacy to the junta. The military has failed all over the world and there are no empirical and historical studies to suggest that it will be different in
VI: Military junta vs terrorist groups: Addressing threats to democracy
About a week has passed but there is no sign that the military junta will loosen the restrictions on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The military junta continues to act as judge and jury.
Asian Centre for Human Rights welcomes the statement of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of
The military juntas across the world pose more serious threat threat to democracy, the rule of law and human rights and fundamnetal freedoms than the armed opposition groups or what the governments call “terrorist groups”. Therefore, the coup d'etat in
International community especially European Union, United States and ASEAN countries must not accept the coup d'etat as a fait accompli and therefore, recognise the CDR. The
. Council to 'assist' the interim govt, The Bangkok Post,