Protest leaders cry foul to the UN, but forget previous complicity in unsavoury events
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit and his entourage looked ridiculous posing for photos in front of the United Nations building as they were about to submit a petition to the UN to ask the world body to investigate the crackdown on violent red-shirt protestors last month.
To begin with, the entire premise of this request was misleading. If the Pheu Thai Party is concerned about alleged human rights violations, perhaps it should ask the UN to investigate the entire incident, including those who were pulling strings and financing the whole protest. And the investigation shouldn’t stop there. What about the mayhem in Pattaya and the clashes before that?
In what was absurdly billed as a peaceful demonstration, the Songkran riot included the shooting deaths of two people, the ransacking of some neighbourhoods, the holding of communities hostage through the threat of detonating gas tankers and the violation of the sanctity of a place of worship.
Thaksin Shinawatra tried to distance himself from those who had taken matters into their own hands, while his lieutenants on the ground said the troublemakers were double agents meant to discredit the peaceful red shirts.
But no matter how hard the red-shirt camp tries, nobody believes them. Authorities permitted local and foreign journalists and photographers to roam free during the protests to document the event as they unfolded step by step. Thus explained, this is why so few people have given much credit to the excuses of the red-shirt leaders.
The sad reality is that whatever legitimate grievances the red shirts may have, they went out the window because of the actions of the violent minority.
What is ironic about Prompong’s request is that he has turned to the United Nations. It was his puppet master – fugitive ex-premier Thaksin – who gave the world body a serious scolding when he told the public that the “UN is not my father” following a damning report about his human rights violations.
Perhaps Prompong should also be reminded that the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings is still waiting for an invitation from the Thai government to investigate the Tak Bai massacre in October 2004. The incident ended in the deaths of more than 80 young men, all of whom were Thai citizens.
Pheu Thai lawmakers got hold of some video footage of soldiers beating unarmed protestors. If they are so passionate about justice and human rights, why not display the same spirit to previous incidents that involve the same gross violations of human rights?
We don’t have to look only at Tak Bai; we can look to our own neighbourhoods to see discrimination, extortion and exploitation, often at the hands of government officials and their cronies.
Moreover, today’s grown-ups are hardly an example for future generations. School kids are on drugs and in some cases their teachers are their suppliers. Traditional values and virtues are declining rapidly and are being replaced by a “what’s in it for me” attitude. Our kids are embracing stupidity as if it were a virtue.
Our political leaders preach morality but forget the age-old saying – people hear what they see. They don’t seem to understand that their actions and words must be congruent or the public will not believe a word they say.
We are not suggesting that Pheu Thai members or any elected leaders climb up on the moral high ground and take a holier-than-thou attitude towards governance. But it doesn’t mean embracing moral degradation as if it’s the latest fashion.
And yet our leaders continue to take the easy way out and conveniently paint the current predicament as good versus evil, right versus wrong. Why? Because it’s easier to tell people to beat each other up. Because it takes too much effort to work for peace.
By The Nation
Published on May 15, 2009
Bangkok Post – Puea Thai asks UN to probe riots