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Posts from the ‘Press Releases’ Category

28
Aug

Abhisit and Suthep Will Not Escape Accountability for 2010 Bangkok Massacre, says Amsterdam

LONDON, 29 August 2014 – Following a ruling by a Thai court dismissing murder charges against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban for their roles in the 2010 Bangkok massacre, international lawyer Robert Amsterdam says that the Red Shirt movement will not rest until the responsible parties are held accountable.

“More than 90 Thai citizens were brutally murdered by the Thai Army under the direction of Abhisit and Suthep simply because they protested for their right to vote. No matter where these men go, the spectre of this atrocity will haunt them,” said Amsterdam, who originally brought the case of the 2010 massacres before the International Criminal Court (ICC). “The military coup came to the rescue of these criminals, but what I can guarantee to all Red Shirt members, this will not be the final chapter in this story.”

The controversial decision by the Criminal Court of Thailand today dismissed the charges without considering the evidence, instead claiming that it did not have jurisdiction because Abhisit and Suthep held political office at the time of said crimes. Even the President the Criminal Court Thongchai Senamontri rejected the ruling, issuing an official “note of disagreement” along with the ruling highlighting the court’s rightful jurisdiction to handle the case.

The Bangkok massacre case has now been passed into the hands of the coup-appointed National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which is all but certain to launder the crimes of the past government, says Amsterdam. “The NACC is an integral part of the coup-elite network that has now overthrown the past five democratically elected governments of Thailand, so we all can see what is happening now,” Amsterdam said.
The Criminal Court’s decision is particularly controversial given coup leader (and self appointed Prime Minister) General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s record of interference in the case, Amsterdam said. Before the coup, Prayuth had repeatedly threatened and intimidated investigators, lawyers, witnesses, and journalists involved in the Bangkok massacre case, according to a 23 August 2012 statement by Human Rights Watch.

This granting of impunity comes amidst a rapidly deteriorating situation for human rights in Thailand, Amsterdam says, pointing to the junta’s sentencing of seven protesters at McDonalds to a three-month jail term, as well as the widely condemned harassment of lawyer Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, who is being sued for “damaging the reputation of the army” because she documents torture for the Cross Cultural Foundation.

“This unjust precedent will not stand, and survivors and families of victims of the 2010 massacre will now pursue international legal avenues,” said Amsterdam. “It is beyond any doubt that the junta currently controlling Thailand will never, under any condition, allow standard, non-arbitrary legal proceedings on its watch, so will continue our pursuit of justice for the victims of the 2010 massacre.”

27
May

Notice to International Media in Thailand

LONDON – On behalf of UDD, we urge you not to use the language of legitimate trials in describing illegal and indeed criminal military tribunals that have absolutely no jurisdiction, no independence, no impartiality and no due process that are being used in a manner entirely divorced from law or reason to punish individuals who are political opponents of the military.

Instead of “trial,” please use the term “process” or “hearing.” Please refrain from using the term “judgment” which implies some form of neutral consideration. Please refrain from using the term “detention”, when in fact the individuals detained are in reality hostages.

We underscore that this junta has no legitimacy under international law. Their determination to use military courts and bogus charges only serves to underscore the insecurity of a group of individuals who have lied, deceived the Thai people, and stand themselves accused of violating not only international law but also destroying the very future hopes and aspirations of the Thai people.

Robert Amsterdam
Counsel to the United National Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD)

26
May

ABC Radio Interview on Thailand

Listen to Robert Amsterdam’s interview with Australia’s ABC Radio (RN Breakfast) about the illegal junta in Thailand, the consideration of the government in exile, and the situation for detainees.

25
May

Statement: Thai Junta’s Threats Will Not Silence Critics

According to reports published in the Thai media, the military junta administration is considering “action” against me in retaliation for public statements, and may seek to “block” communications by shutting down access to websites, among other measures to be pursued via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

These threats come at the same time that many others, including journalists, activists, and civil society leaders, are being called before the junta for interrogations, while hundreds remain detained without rights.

We should ask ourselves what this kind of conduct means. What does this say about the Thai junta that they so fear what people might say, and have to resort to fear and threats to shore up their support? This determination to control information is the defining characteristic of dictatorship, and stands as the clearest evidence why the coup must be dissolved and democratic civilian authority must be restored.

The military coup overseen by Gen. Prayuth has no constitutional authority and no legitimacy to issue these sorts of accusations. They have behaved in a criminal manner by illegally seizing power, and these efforts to chill free speech show a fundamental lack of confidence in their own status.

I reject any suggestion that my public statements have any bearing on “incitement.” The Thai people have the right to question the unlawful actions of an unelected military dictatorship, and they have the right to peacefully oppose the theft of their country by the military. If the act of voicing opposition to the coup and calling for the immediate restoration of civilian rule represents an offence, the junta would also have to pursue action against a wide range of diplomatic figures.

Given the majority of our communications take place on Facebook and Twitter, for the junta to shut down complete access to these websites would place it among the world’s most repressive, criminal governments. It would also confirm the total bankruptcy of their legitimacy among the people of Thailand.

Most importantly, these threats will not work. We will not be silenced, and we will not go away. Instead we have to find ways to work together to achieve peaceful resolution and a return to democracy.

It is for this reason we are committed to providing counsel and support to the legitimate government in exile, in order to ensure that one day peace and democracy are restored to Thailand.

24
May

Statement: Legal Counsel Denied Access to Detainees of Thai Military Coup

24 MAY 2014 – LONDON – More than 150 Thai citizens who have been arrested by the military are unable to communicate with their lawyers, representing a violation of international human rights law, says Red Shirt legal counsel Robert Amsterdam.

“We don’t know where they are being held, we don’t know if they are being mistreated, and we haven’t been allowed to communicate with them,” Amsterdam said on behalf of a group of lawyers representing detained Red Shirt leaders. “After almost 72 hours, the fact that Gen. Prayuth’s coup is holding people hostage without rights beyond the reach of their lawyers is a clear gesture of intimidation. This represents a violation of both Thai and international law.”

There have also been incidences of harassment of lawyers representing those detained, including Mr. Titippong Srisaen, who was held for five hours before being released. Other members of parliament of the elected government have also been arrested, while today the coup leaders moved to dissolve Senate, taking over all powers of the state.

Amsterdam said the legal team is working in close contact with all relevant UN and international bodies in Thailand to try to protect both citizens and detainees. The Army’s ongoing conduct, which has included nighttime raids on private homes and hounding of people previously pardoned from lese majeste charges, has created a climate of fear among Thai society, Amsterdam says.

“Given the velocity of this crackdown, Prayuth appears to have no interest in maintaining peace, but instead is following the playbook of Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat,” said Amsterdam. “His tenuous support is rapidly eroding, and we are deeply concerned regarding public safety.”

This week Amsterdam announced that the elected leadership of Thailand may consider the establishment of a government in exile. Efforts are underway to document the actions of coup participants to be held accountable when rule of law is restored.

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23
May

Statement: Consideration Given to Formation of Thai Government in Exile

LONDON, 23 May 2014 – Following the declaration of an illegal military coup by the Army of Thailand on Thursday, Robert Amsterdam, counsel to former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the pro-democracy ‘Red Shirt’ movement, stated that active consideration is being given to the formation of a government in exile in the wake of the illegal seizure of power staged in Thailand by General Prayuth Chan-Ocha on May 22, 2014. Mr. Amsterdam reiterates that the actions of Thai military junta lack all legitimacy and constitute flagrant violations of both Thai and international law. The only organization in Thailand with a popular and legal mandate to govern remains the Pheu Thai Party, on the strength of its clear victory in the last full general election of July 3, 2011.

“The military coup carried out by the Army of Thailand does not have any legitimacy nor does the Army of Thailand have a mandate from the people of Thailand to govern the country. Those who have the mandate of the people of Thailand, secured through free and fair elections, are now considering the formation of a government in exile,” said Mr.Amsterdam.

Mr. Amsterdam also raised the question of the unlawful detentions of pro-democracy activists currently being rounded up by the junta stating that “I denounce the illegal detention of all political leaders in Thailand. Given the Thai Army of Thailand’s human rights record, we are extremely concerned for the safety of the political detainees, and we urge the international community to remain on high alert.”

Mr Amsterdam also stated that a number of foreign governments have already expressed their willingness to host such a government in exile under internationally established rules and practice. He emphasised that the Army of Thailand has no legal authority to govern and has acted in violation of both local and international law.

“Make no mistake, this is an illegitimate military coup that must be penalized with the full strength of sanctions and diplomatic measures to ensure the safety and security of the Thai people,” said Amsterdam

Robert Amsterdam serves as international counsel to the United National Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) of Thailand. More information can be read at https://thailand.robertamsterdam.com.

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22
May

Statement: Thai Army Demanded to Show Proof of Safety of Detained Red Shirts

THAI ARMY DEMANDED TO SHOW PROOF OF SAFETY OF DETAINED RED SHIRTS

Red Shirt Legal Counsel Robert Amsterdam Calls for International Action in Response to Illegal Military Coup

LONDON, 22 May 2014 – Following the declaration of an illegal military coup by the Royal Army of Thailand on Thursday, legal counsel representing the pro-government Red Shirt movement has demanded evidence that activists who had been arrested were safe and not subject to torture or inhumane prison conditions.

“We demand immediate proof from the current junta that Red Shirt leaders and others who were detained remain safe and unharmed,” said Robert Amsterdam, who serves as legal counsel to the Red Shirts, warning that violations of human rights by the coup leaders would be held accountable.

Following the formal declaration of the military coup, which comes only days after the Thai Army announced martial law, soldiers have moved swiftly to detain both Red Shirt activists as well as government officials. Currently there are reports that so far the Army has detained Red Shirt activists Jatuporn Prompan, Nattawut Saikua, Thida Thavornseth, Weerakarn Satitniramai, Weerakarn Musikapong, Korkaew Pikulthong, and Weng Tojirakarn (unconfirmed).

The Army is also reported to have arrested the Minister of Justice Chaikasem Nitisir, Warathep Ratanakorn (Prime Minister’s Office), Deputy Minister of Education Sermsak Pongpanich, Minister of Transportation Chatchart Sithipan, and Deputy Minister of Finance Tanusak Lekuthai. Members of the Pheu Thai party have also been illegally detained by the coup leaders, including Pol. Lt. Gen. Wiroj Pao-in, Poomtham Wejchayachai, Choosak Sirinuin, Wan Mohamad Noor Matha, and Prompong Nopparit.

Amsterdam emphasizes that the Army has no legal authority to govern and has acted in violation of both local and international law.

“Make no mistake, this is an illegitimate military coup that must be penalized with the full strength of sanctions and diplomatic measures to ensure the safety and security of the Thai people,” said Amsterdam. “Given the Thai Army’s human rights record, we are extremely concerned for the safety of the political prisoners, and we urge the international community to remain on high alert.”

Robert Amsterdam serves as international counsel to the United National Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) of Thailand. More information can be read at https://thailand.robertamsterdam.com.

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20
May

Statement on Thai Army’s Declaration of Martial Law

LONDON, 21 May 2014 – The international community should be extremely concerned by the Thai Army’s declaration of martial law, which represents a clear step toward an outright military coup, says Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer acting on behalf of the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement.

Amsterdam said that the Red Shirts have tasked his law firm with making sure that every available international avenue is taken to ensure that there are effective and specific consequences against individuals involved in this illegal overthrow of civilian democratic governance.

“Thailand is in the midst of a coup by stages. Thai Army Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha is not seeking to prevent violence, but rather to prevent elections,” said Amsterdam. “We are deeply concerned for the human rights and safety of millions of Thai citizens in the face of an unlawful seizure of power by the same individuals who perpetrated the Bangkok massacre of 2010.”

The declaration of martial law, which grants the Army expansive powers to detain without charges, ban public meetings, and shut down media, was made early Tuesday morning when soldiers took over a number of television stations. Gen. Prayuth has told the media the Army intends to be a “mediator” between Red Shirts and the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), however he declined to answer questions about a coup or whether or not the elected government still exists.

According to a representative of the Electoral Commission as quoted by the newspaper Matichon, Prayuth told the body that “if an election can’t be held, then there should not be an election. If an election will lead to bloodshed, then it must not be held.”

The Thai Army leader has also made chilling statements, threatening to arrest and prosecute anyone who publishes information on social media that would “stir up the situation.”

Gen. Prayuth has a known history of partisan activity. In 2011, he brought a lese majeste complaint against Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan for giving a speech about the 2010 massacre of more than 90 unarmed protesters. On the other side of the negotiating table are the Former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, both of whom have been charged with murder for their roles in the deaths of protesters.

“The declaration of martial law represents a gross abuse of power that is disproportionate to any threat that Thailand may be facing. The world has woken up to these games, and it’s time to end impunity for the Thai elites,” said Amsterdam. “Nobody voted for the Army; they should return to the barracks where they belong. They must be made to understand that there will be significant consequences if democracy is overthrown yet again in Thailand.”

Robert Amsterdam serves as international counsel to the United National Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) of Thailand. More information can be read at https://thailand.robertamsterdam.com.

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17
Jul

White Paper: The Judicial Attack on Thailand’s Democracy

The purpose of this White Paper is to alert the international community to an ongoing assault—carried out largely under the standard of the Democrat Party of Thailand, but engineered by a broader coalition of groups hostile to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra—designed to remove a democratically elected government by illegal means.

This alert to protect Thai democracy is even more pertinent and urgent given the recent military coup in Egypt. The actions of the Egyptian Army bluntly revealed to any of those who were still in doubt how fragile burgeoning democracies can be, particularly in countries where a lack of civilian oversight and accountability holds sway. The insipid response of the international community to the Egyptian coup and the violence and deaths that occurred on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere in the aftermath of the Egyptian Army’s actions lend a stark warning to what might occur in Thailand should anti-democratic forces take significant action.

The government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, which was elected and duly constituted in July 2011, is responsible to protect its citizens from (among other things) crimes against humanity, such as the brutal slaughter of dozens of unarmed civilians under the Democrat administration of former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva during the “Red Shirt” pro-democracy demonstrations in Bangkok in April/May 2010. The Yingluck administration is working toward justice for those victims, and toward ensuring that no such atrocities occur ever again in Thailand. While the Thai government’s responsibility toward its citizens flows from basic principles of democratic governance, it is also enshrined in principles of international law, including the concept of Responsibility to Protect.1 Responsibility to Protect principles not only urge states to protect their citizens against mass atrocity crimes, such as the crimes against humanity inflicted upon the Thai citizenry during the 2010 Red Shirt demonstration; they also oblige the international community to encourage and assist individual states to meet those responsibilities. Further, if an individual state is failing in its duty, the concept of Responsibility to Protect calls upon the international community to take collective action within the framework of the UN Charter.2

Protecting innocent civilians from brutal slaughter is no simple task in Thailand, as doing so requires breaking a cycle of lawless coups and killings that dates back decades. The same groups that have been responsible historically for this cycle of impunity—the almost exclusive beneficiaries of the status quo that held before the first truly democratic Constitution was adopted in 1997—are now using every conceivable method to remove a duly elected government, primarily through an extra-parliamentary campaign of street action and judicial manipulation.

This White Paper describes the efforts by the anti-Thaksin coalition to undermine the results of the 2011 election, and it calls upon the international community to throw its full-throated support behind the Yingluck government as it strives to advance true democracy in Thailand, while preventing a repeat of April/May 2010.

The full White Paper can be read below:

White Paper: The Judicial Attack on Thailand’s Democracy

21
Nov

Thai Red Shirts to Monitor Democrat Party-Backed March against Democracy

Following a visit to Thailand by U.S. President Barack Obama in which he expressed support for the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Red Shirt groups are announcing plans to monitor and expose the financial supporters of an upcoming march against democracy by an extremist group backed by the Democrat Party.

According to Robert Amsterdam, lawyer to the Red Shirt group United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), this evidence gathering will also extend to any acts of violence, threats of violence and any other criminal enterprise associated with the anti-democratic extremists and its backers.

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