The content in this page ("Nothing 'normal' about emergency" by Pravit Rojanaphruk, The Nation) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Nothing 'normal' about emergency

Despite being under emergency rule for four months, many Bangkokians still believe their lives are "normal."

However, there's nothing normal about living under the emergency decree.

The "silent majority" should not complacently accept the emergency law as status quo because it not only violates their rights, but is also bad for democracy. Unless they want Thailand to become another Burma, they should seriously stop and think about the merits of this law.

After the bomb explosion on Sunday night at Rajdamri Road, which killed one and injured 10 others, the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration was quick to declare the capital would stay under the emergency decree for a while yet.

On the surface, it appears as if it's the red shirts who have the most to lose under the decree, and those who have no agenda against the government can lead their lives as normal.

However, this group of people should think again, because if they start having problems with a future administration, then it can "justly" impose the decree and justify itself by saying that a previous government did the same for half a year if not longer.

If you are an active red shirt, you will find the emergency decree curbing your freedom of speech, political assembly, access to information, financial transactions and you live under the constant fear of being arrested by the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES).

The CRES is a non-constitutional organ that appears to be more powerful than any other state agency and seems to be quite determined to become a permanent fixture of the Thai state.

Since it's only the reds getting this "special treatment", why should you care? However, even if you're not idealistic or altruistic, you should care because unless justice and rights are applied equally to everyone, there can never be any peace.

Look at what has been happening in the South, which has been under the emergency decree for years now. Can anyone honestly and sanely believe the emergency has actually boosted the region's future and brought about peace? There is no peace in the deep South, and Bangkok will suffer more conflicts and violence if the ruling elite alienates more people through the decree.

Those who claim that Thailand respects human rights and is a democratic country should bear in mind that only when we defend the fundamental rights and liberties of those with whom we disagree, can we truly claim to have human rights and democracy.

Human rights and democracy are not meant just for those who agree with you politically, but are for each and every citizen. At a time when any move made by a red shirt is seen as self serving, those who are true democrats should declare that this government is dragging Thailand to the dark ages, where only the rights of those who agree with the regime will be respected.

Abhisit may continue saying he is gradually lifting the emergency decree in other provinces but this is too little, too late. Too many provinces are still under the emergency decree and society should not become addicted to thinking that it can and should maintain a facade of normalcy by using abnormal and unjust laws.

When people become addicted to draconian laws such as the emergency decree to maintain a semblance of political normalcy, they are not actually maintaining normalcy but are getting entrenched in repression, with dictatorship making life seem normal.



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