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January 30, 2011

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Expert Report Cites Deliberate Killings of Civilians by Thai Military

BANGKOK, Jan. 30, 2011 – Lawyers acting on behalf of the Red Shirt pro-democracy movement in Thailand are presenting an application before the International Criminal Court tomorrow including a powerful expert witness report.  The report submitted by Joe Ray Witty, a former U.S. Army Sergeant and crowd control expert with the Los Angeles Police Department SWAT, finds that the Royal Thai Army’s operations on May 19, 2010 were “military in nature” and “designed to kill innocent civilians, without provocation or justification, in order to suppress the Red Shirt demonstrations.”

Download a copy of the report over at New Mandala.

Witty’s expert statement represents one of the first publicly available documents to shed light on the specific events of the April and May 2010 crackdowns resulting in some 90 deaths of Red Shirt protesters.  The report contains many shocking revelations, including the Army’s alleged responsibility for the April 10th bombings on Dinso Road, which prompted the troops to begin firing directly into the crowds.  Given the shrapnel pattern, sounds, and distances between protesters and soldiers, the report concludes it would not have been possible for the Red Shirt protesters to toss the grenade.

“It is clear to me, therefore, that the grenade was either dropped or rolled along the ground by someone within the ranks of the troops in the immediate vicinity of the explosion,” the expert statement reads.  “An M67 grenade has a timed fuse of five seconds, ample time for someone to surreptitiously drop a grenade in the area of the explosion and walk behind the adjacent APC, visible in the video evidence, in time to avoid injury. In my opinion, this is the only plausible deduction, based on the evidence I have examined.”

The report goes on to state that the Royal Thai Army’s conduct in numerous circumstances was criminal in nature, and failed to meet the military’s own rules of engagement.  They did not engage in a rational or reasonable crowd-management operation, the report argues, but instead sealed off the exits, corralled the protesters in a confined space, and “engaged in various illegal acts designed to provoke the crowd to violence so that the Army would appear justified in its use of deadly force against demonstrators.”

Lead lawyer Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Peroff LLP said that the facts contained in the Witty report represent the most important documentation to date of alleged human rights abuses and crimes against humanity committed by the Government of Thailand in April and May 2010.

“I would challenge the Thai government to provide any other credible expert witness who could dispute this assessment of the events,” said Amsterdam.  “We believe the evidence collected in this report, and the ICC application as a whole, is irrefutable.”

Along with leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), Amsterdam & Peroff will present the ICC application on Monday, Jan. 31 at 11:30AM Bangkok time.  A copy of the ICC application and accompanying materials will be published tomorrow on http://www.robertamsterdam.com/thailand.

Read more from Human Rights, Red Shirts
14 Comments
  1. Octavian
    Jan 30 2011

    “I would challenge the Thai government to provide any other credible expert witness who could dispute this assessment of the events,” said Amsterdam.”

    Hehehe. Watch out Robert – here comes Dr. Pornthip…

    Good luck with the report and case to ICC.

  2. English_Bob
    Jan 31 2011

    Paying an ‘expert’ to write a report to support your claim is as credible as asking a hooker if you’re handsome…

    It’s scandalous that Witty would claim that Thai soldiers released grenades on their own men. He also ignores the killing of Col Romklao – a Red Shirt target and the video evidence of Black Shirted men mingling with Red Shirts firing automatic weapons at soldiers.

  3. English_Bob
    Jan 31 2011

    The soldiers cleared Phan Fa bridge during daylight hours without loss of life – exactly the opposite of Witty’s claim. The violence began when the Red Shirts returned after dark and attacked the soldiers.

    Protesters were herded into confined spaces – as anyone who has been to this site will tell you, the area has huge open spaces and plenty of escape routes.

    Laughably, he includes photographs of snipers which he claims are soldiers – but which every other source claimed were black shirts as the area in question was under UDD control at the time.

    He claims that the army was never under threat, but yet several APCs were seized and destroyed by Red Shirts. Their crews were attacked and beaten – several were paraded on stage the next day by UDD leaders.

    Lights were shot out to hide future actions – in exactly the same way that the Red Shirts disabled ALL CCTV cameras in any of the areas they were occupying…

    One video shows objects being thrown at the soldiers – yet when an explosion occurs amongst the soldiers, he concludes that it could not have been thrown by protesters because the distance was too far. However, the video clearly shows water bottles landing in the same area. He also ignores the possibilty of a grenade launcher being used, which has a range of 400 metres.

    His claim that soldiers did not react at a grenade being thrown is ridiculous in the extreme. It was night and there were a thousand objects in the air…

    I read this so called ‘expert’ report and it is the most biased and baseless piece of fiction I have ever read.

  4. Octavian
    Feb 1 2011

    “Paying an ‘expert’ to write a report to support your claim is as credible as asking a hooker if you’re handsome…”

    Bob, that you believe people with families to feed and bills to pay would devote countless hours of their time to another persons cause absolutely for free isn’t exactly the best opening paragraph to a series of statements you post on a deep researching legal site with absolutely no proof or references to back them up…

    I suggest you actually read Amsterdam’s submission, it’s excellent. I challenge you to post links to anything that can counter it.

    In regards to your claim Thai OFFICERS would not release grenades on their own men, it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened. Nonetheless, it is something up for debate. I’d merely like to point out I’ve seen no evidence to suggest it was an act of a Red Shirt. I should also point out that the men in black were seen behind army lines, moving freely – not just amongst Red Shirts.

  5. Cherdchai
    Feb 1 2011

    English_Bob
    1) “The soldiers cleared Phan Fa bridge during daylight hours without loss of life”
    This is not true. One of the red shirt was killed before dark and many of them are wounded because of firing by army. and this is begin of the violence. The troop with M16 and tanks are coming to the area of protest and start fire without warning procedures.

    2) “Laughably, he includes photographs of snipers which he claims are soldiers – but which every other source claimed were black shirts as the area in question was under UDD control at the time.”
    The black shirt could be red shirt or soldier but where the sniper are being is in building of school and government office. They would not have any red shirt go in even the wounded people. Some of schools and temples around protest area are the temporary base of army.

    3) “One video shows objects being thrown at the soldiers”
    Hundred videos show bullet being fired from M16 and sniper to the red shirts

    4) “Lights were shot out to hide future actions – in exactly the same way that the Red Shirts disabled ALL CCTV cameras in any of the areas they were occupying…”
    All websites, red TV, Red radio station are banned and destroy by government. They only broadcast government news and propaganda on their side. In fact the area of protest have so many un uniformed polices and soldiers. many of them even wear red shirt inside the protesters to record the evidience.Many of them are caugth and admitted they are from the army.

    5) “His claim that soldiers did not react at a grenade being thrown is ridiculous in the extreme. It was night and there were a thousand objects in the air…”
    That’s why the army do operation at night time.
    The army is person who start off the violence on their attention.

  6. Cherdchai
    Feb 1 2011

    Sorry that I forgot to tell you that there is one video shown the black shirt with the gun are walking out from the group of soldiers and the rest of video show only black shirt in firing.

  7. English_Bob
    Feb 1 2011

    I read the report.

    The point I was making – and you missed (as usual) is that paying for a report to back up your point of view has no credibility because the person paying will always get EXACTLY the report they want.

    Witty seems to have no previous track record of producing reports and rose to the lofty heights of Sergeant.

    The whole report omits the arson, looting, assassination of Romklao, Seh Daeng’s boasts of armed men, Arisman’s incitement to burn Bangkok, Veera’s promise to burn Central World. It fails to mention any of the 80+ grenade attacks that were launched. It fails to mention the dead soldiers. It misses reports from Al Jazeera, BBC and France 24 which all claim to have observed armed men amongst the UDD.

    The snipers in the video are NOT in government buildings – they are in town houses over shops and are located within the ‘Red Zone’ firing out of windows. Just down the street from there was a video of a man firing an M16 at soldiers… I notice that isn’t included.

    There is no mention of the 39 buildings looted and burnt to the ground or the grenades launched at rival protesters at Sala Daeng. The hospital invasion is ignored and also the attacks on Newin’s private residences. The soldiers who were captured, beaten and parade on stage on April 11th are missing… As I said – a totally one-sded, biased piece of fiction.

    The whole report ignores the fact that the military TRIED to use non-lethal methods, but were left with no options. UDD HAD to be removed – what government in the world would allow 10,000 protesters to blockade the capital city and stop 60,000 innocent people from living and working? For TWO months?

    The UDD were given plenty of warning that there would be a crackdown. It happened slowly and methodically. There was enough time for UDD leaders to rally protesters to sit peacefully in front of the stage at Ratchaprasong. They didn’t do that because they needed martyrs. The responsibility for the deaths lies wholly, 100% at the feet of the fools who pushed other people into a firefight they couldn’t win.

  8. English_Bob
    Feb 1 2011
  9. Octavian
    Feb 3 2011

    Much of the guns in that video are those captured from the police and army themselves. Especially at the TV station after the fools dropped them when they got gassed by their own tear gas – but the Reds gave them back.

    I won’t deny many Reds have personal arms – there is a shotgun in every house where I live, and many people carry pistols around in Thailand. But you’ve got to prove they were actually used and the crime of murder was committed.

    Packing a video full of photos of captured weapons that were ultimately not used by the Reds and handed back is plain propaganda – it’s not appealing to people’s rationale, Bob.

    In any case, what you fail to understand, Bob, is it’s illegal to just go out and shoot someone in the head. This is why they’re pushing for the ICC – because no amount of weapons in the hands of Reds is going to excuse intentionally shooting unarmed civilians.

    Witty’s report is fine. He was a Sergeant, so what? The majority of ranks above that are commissioned officer ranks that require extensive education. Witty was a soldier – the only promotion above his rank for a soldier, not an officer, is Warrant Officer (non commissioned officer) (at least, so long as US and AUS ranks are similar, I might be slightly mistaken). This is irrelevant, anyway – after his career in the army, he says he entered the police force and was involved at the higher ends of riot control. He’s also qualified with many types of weapons systems and has used them in action – something important, as an academic is not going to be as familiar with this matter as a soldier is. As a soldier myself, I can confirm nothing he said was false or misleading, yet of course it may be biased – this is why we need the ICC.

    There is no inconsistency in what he said. Entire legal teams are paid, Bob. Where did you get the impression this was an impartial investigation? He was paid to discover facts incriminating the army – he is well qualified to do so – and he did just that. If you want to hear the other side of the story, go ask the Thai government. But from what Robert’s submission says, many members of the “impartial” CSI are actually voluntarily siding with the Reds weight, whilst those loyal to the government are active liars. The only true impartial pinnacle we can hope for is justice from the ICC – that’s what we’re pursuing.

    You also mention the grenade attacks – none of the grenade attacks have the person responsible be found. And if you look at who is to benefit from these attacks, it is the Thai government, as they were used to justify the extension of dictator powers. They certainly were not Red because no Red would benefit. They may have been the work of an uninvolved anarchist organization who was simply trying to incite meaningless violence, but I doubt it. Abhisit has blamed the Reds with no proof whatsoever – again, propaganda not appealing to ones rationale.

    I’m not fool, though, Bob – I know what is fact and what is not. Witness testimony does not prove the military planned the Central World arson, nor does Witty’s report prove the grenade attacks on the army was done by other soldiers. It’s called evidence, not fact. The only facts we can be sure of are a few simple things:

    Abhisit has told many lies.
    The Thai military shot unarmed civilians intentionally.
    The ROE used in the Ratchaprasong assault was criminal and in violation of human rights/crimes against humanity.
    The Thai justice system is incapable of handling the situation and delivering justice.
    Thailand is excessively corrupt.

    These are about the only iron clad facts I go on right now. I’d dare you to challenge them.

  10. English_Bob
    Feb 3 2011

    Oh for crying out loud!

    I’ve endured a YEAR of ‘unarmed protesters’ shot by an evil military junta!

    Now it’s the ORIGIN of the weapons that is important?

    And you KNOW they gave those weapons back because…? UDD leaders said so?

    There were soldiers who were shot and blown up – and despite the photographs and videos of Red Shirts with guns and grenade launchers, YOUR defense is that that doesn’t PROVE the Red Shirts used them…

    OK then – the pictures of the military with guns doesn’t PROVE they shot anyone! How ridiculous!

    Witty’s report is full of holes – you, as a UDD supporter, will agree with just about any old garbage that supports the ‘innocent democracy seeking protesters’ lie.

    He didn’t ‘uncover facts’… he used fabricated and false testimony to back up Thaksin’s claims. He was given evidence by the UDD (who previously doctored audio tapes) and took it at face value.

    Here are some questions and answers…

    Did UDD kill people? Yes
    Did they blow up soldiers? Yes
    Did they assassinate Col Romklao? Yes
    Did they burn down buildings? Yes
    Did they cost the country billions in lost income? Yes
    Did they refuse an election? Yes
    Did they ruin innocent people’s businesses and livelihoods for their own selfish aims? Yes

    You will of course say – ‘It’s not proven.’ Because you refuse to accept that UDD had an armed wing and a bunch of thieves and thugs in their ranks.

    Somehow, you think that the motorcycle taxi riders and taxi drivers that joined the UDD were the virtuous ones, not the alcoholic, drug-taking, violent thugs that inhabit the rest of Bangkok.

    The notion of an unconnected anarchic gang is absurd – totally absurd… the kind of ridiculous fantasy, spun by someone with no alibi. The videos clearly show UDD thugs running through Central World and looting shops. ATMs smashed and property stolen.

    Dozens of men were arrested the following day, boarding buses with jewelry and watches looted from shops…

    You say you’re not a fool – but I disagree. You refuse to see the truth. Thaksin formulated an army of poor people with promises of wealth, which he cannot deliver. He did it solely to try to regain his position in Thailand.

    As for your challenge…

    Abhisit has told many lies – he’s a politician… who would you replace him with? Thaksin? Thaksin’s sister? Abhisit is the best PM this country has had in a long time and were he allowed to do his job properly, the country would be in a much better shape – instead he has spent much of his time putting out the fires (literal and figurative) lit by Thaksin and his cronies…

    The Thai military shot unarmed civilians intentionally. – NOT unarmed civilians… criminals – many armed. Two months blockading the capital city. Billions lost. Millions of innocent people’s rights denied. If UDD had been peaceful, there would have been no justification for using weapons… but they weren’t… so people died. Was it a surprise the army came? Could the protesters have left? Those who died did so because they took a gamble and lost. About 75 people were killed (on May 19th) from 10,000 protesters… If the army had truly been firing indiscriminately into groups of ‘unarmed civilians’ the death toll would have been vast.

    The ROE used in the Ratchaprasong assault was criminal and in violation of human rights/crimes against humanity. – Not at ALL! The UDD had had time to make its point. It had failed to bring down the government. It had refused an election for 15th November. UDD had used weapons against the military before. How long were the REAL innocent people of Bangkok supposed to bear the brunt of this selfish action? There’s a handful of lefty, armchair socialists like you, saying the government overreacted, but you can’t accept the fact that UDD brought it on themselves and the military had no alternative.

    The Thai justice system is incapable of handling the situation and delivering justice. – Ahhh depends on your version of justice. Suppose Peua Thai win the next election, will they arrest the Red Shirts? Will they prosecute Thaksin for the charges he ran away from? Will you be demanding they do? Of course not… so stop bleating about double standards – your ‘side’ have them, but it is not in a position to apply them yet.

    Thailand is excessively corrupt. – All SE Asian countries are corrupt. But the way to bring about change is not through fire-bombing a city. Is Peua Thai any better? There is no alternative yet – but Peua Thai and Thaksin are a disaster. Don’t try to pretend this is not about Thaksin – it is. And any denial from people like you is pointless seeing as Peua Thai have only one policy – bring back Thaksin.

  11. Chaiwal
    Feb 3 2011

    @English_Bob – your pitiful screed is just pathetic. I feel sorry for you, having lived in your world of lies and Yellow propaganda. One day you’ll maybe see the light, and not be such a cheerleader for murder of protesters.

    The idea that British citizen Mark Abhisit is the best PM you’ve seen in Thailand is a fucking joke. He deserves to be put on trial for murdering Thais.

  12. English_Bob
    Feb 3 2011

    Chaiwai – typical – absolutely typical.
    Everyone who is not Red must be Yellow.

    You know, I have debated with Yellow Shirts, Red Shirts, Multicoloured Shirts and anyone else interested in Thai politics.
    The traits I’ve found in Red Shirt supporters is that as soon as someone disagrees with the Red line, they are labelled – PAD, Yellow, Royalist, Fascist…

    When evidence is presented showing Red Shirts in a bad light, they invent excuses – ‘It’s a fake Red’… ‘It’s a minority’… ‘It’s OK because they are fighting for democracy’

    Not once… Seriously not on one single, solitary occasion have I heard a UDD supporter decry or regret the violence, hospital invasion, arson, looting, deaths and denial of human rights for millions of Bangkokians.

    Why is that? You know why? Because they are racist. They label every Non-Red as ‘amaart’ or ‘elite’ and, as such, their rights count for nothing.

    In addition (and this is a genuine observation), the level of intellect of typical UDD supporters is much lower than ‘non-Reds’. There is a blind faith in the lines spun by UDD and PT that no amount of evidence to the contrary will shake. I’ve had challenging and interesting arguments with PAD members – and though I think they are misguided, at least they can debate. The same can not be said of the typical Red Shirt.

    Please – call me ‘elite’… If ‘elite’ means I work hard, don’t resort to violence and believe in the power of negotiation…. Oh and can see straight through the machinations of Thaksin Shinawatra.

  13. Chaiwal
    Feb 3 2011

    No, I don’t think that you are Yellow, Royalist, or Fascist, I think that you are wrong.

    That’s just the problem, English_Bob, you DO support the violence and murder of protesters, and further, you want nobody to ever be held accountable for it.

    If you have never heard the Red Shirts decry violence, or disagree with certain things that were done, than you haven’t been listening to Red Shirts. The movement is very, very diverse, and they are hardly rallying around any definitive leadership (UDD leadership doesn’t even influence 50% of reds at this point).

    No, elite doesn’t mean you work hard – far from it. The elite are the ones that think they know better than the majority for the country, and feel they have the right to cancel whatever democratic result they disagree with. That’s why there are some 10 million red shirts in the country – their votes keep getting robbed.

    If you are right about all these accusations of terrible offenses by the red shirt movement, than you would welcome the opportunity for the issue to be sorted out in a fair, international court. But instead, the government seems to be terrified of that, and have continued to destroy evidence and obstruct justice. Sorry, that’s just not the behavior of an innocent party.

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