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April 24, 2011

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Update: On Amnesty International’s Intervention

As many of you know, we recently made a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malalysia, to hold meetings with leaders and representatives of Thailand’s Red Shirt movement and also speak with local NGOs and concerned citizens regarding our application before the International Criminal Court on the April-May violence against protesters in Bangkok.  On Saturday morning, Robert Amsterdam was invited on behalf of Amnesty Malaysia to give a brief presentation on his work, including, but not restricted to, his activities in Thailand in defense of the victims.  Later in the week, we were informed that the event would be canceled by Amnesty Malaysia.  There is some question about the reasons for the cancellation, but we were told that there was pressure from other offices of the organization.

We were very disappointed by the conduct of the organization, and maintain that the organization holds fundamental misunderstandings – if not conflicts of interest – with regard to the April/May violence and our role as advocates on behalf of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

In our opinion, it is one thing if a human rights organization makes a decision not to speak out and denounce the killings of unarmed protesters by military.  It is, however, an entirely different matter when such an organization goes out of its way to prevent discussion and examination of these issues.

For more information, read the report over on Prachatai.

UPDATE:  There is a comment piece posted over on Political Prisoners in Thailand, as well as an article on New Mandala.  The comments section below the New Mandala piece contain some open debate on the issue at hand.

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4 Comments
  1. Benjamin Zawacki
    Apr 27 2011

    Just to clarify: It was not due to “pressure from Amnesty Thailand” that Amnesty Malaysia cancelled the event with Mr. Amsterdam. Amnesty Malaysia took the decision to schedule the event without consultation with either the International Secretariat or Amnesty Thailand and without being fully aware of the political affiliations and positions of all parties involved. Upon further deliberation, Amnesty Malaysia decided it would be inappropriate to participate in this event.

  2. Gudio F. Gebauer
    Apr 29 2011

    Mr. Zawacki does not tell the full truth here. In fact, Mr Zawacki is known as a strong opponent of the present Thai opposition and the whole red-shirt movement. Under his guidance and “research” Amnesty International has consistently failed to protect the human rights of Thai people when they were opponents of the military coup 2006, the yellow shirt movement or the Abhisit administration. (By the way, Amnesty International was in favour of the military coup 2006). Because of his political views, people who are condemned to long prison terms in Thailand for purely political reasons do not receive the slightest support of Amnesty International. A few days before the further escalation of the mass-killings in May 2010 (the live-firing yones were already in operation), Mr. Zawacki even produced a statements that could only be understood as strong support of the Abhisit government that was already killing its people at that time. A few days later Mr. Zawacki retracted in the form of a very different statement but that was too late and probably only motivated by the desire to prevent criticism that Amnesty International supported the killings. Since then, Amnesty International has begun even to represses free discussion among its own members giving support to the stance of the Abhisit government and its political persecution of the opposition. Within this context, it is certainly no coincidence that the present president of Amnesty Thailand is a well known supporter of the right wing extremist yellow shirt movement that wants to eliminate the universally accepted and appreciated principle of “One Person = One Vote” since it claims that the rural Thai people are not well enough educated to vote! Mr Zawacki has not the slightest problem with this clear breach of neutrality since it favours the Abhisit government. However, Mr Zawacki worries very much when members of his organisation want to discuss with the other side of the conflict in order to get a better informed opinion. I am myself a member of Amnesty International and would like to take this opportunity to say that I am deeply ashamed of the collaboration of Amnesty International with the Thai government to repress free discussion as an essential human right.

  3. Octavian
    Apr 30 2011

    Mr. Zawacki,

    Are you saying the event was cancelled on account of Robert’s political affiliation? LOL

    I, like the reader above, am also familiar with your name… not good things, sorry.

    One of the human rights violated in Bangkok was the persecution on the basis of political affiliation. That is illegal under international human rights laws. Given, I find your statement here beyond amusing…

    All people in this conflict have one political affiliation or another – it is your job to protect their rights to political affiliation, not cancel meetings based on it…

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