A Sub-Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has met with senior security officers to gather information on the April-May crackdowns on the red shirts. More meetings will be held next month. The CRES spokesperson insists that the security forces adhered to the law and international practice during the crackdowns, and says that the 91 deaths are being exploited and distorted.
According to Khaosod newspaper, on 27 Sept, Somchai Homla-or, Chair of a Sub-Committee of the government-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission led by former Attorney-General Kanit Na Nakhon, and other members including Lt Gen Pheerapong Manakij, met with the army’s Deputy Chief of Staff Lt Gen Dapong Rattanasuwan, Deputy National Police Chief Pol Lt Gen Worapong Chewpreecha, Deputy Commander of Metropolitan Police Pol Maj Gen Amnuay Nimmano and Deputy Director-General of the Department of Special Investigation Pol Col Narat Savetanant at the army headquarters to gather information on the crackdowns.
Lt Gen Dapong Rattanasuwan was assigned to meet with the Sub-Committee on behalf of Army Chief Gen Anupong Paojinda who had been scheduled to visit and bid farewell to Army Region 4 in the southern border area before his retirement, together with the incoming Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.
After the meeting, Somchai, also Chair of the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the Law Society of Thailand, said that the result of the meeting was satisfactory, but the time was too short. The Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation explained how the security officers worked, and shared information it received during the red shirts’ protests. The information had already been available in the media, but it was organized for clarity. More meetings will be held in mid October. Next time, the Sub-Committee will ask for more time, because the CRES has yet to answer questions, and there is huge mass of complicated information. So no conclusion can be reached as of now. More meetings are needed, and information from other security agencies is also necessary.
According to Somchai, Lt Gen Dapong gave explanations on the mobilization of troops during the crackdowns and the violent incidents at Khok Wua and Ratchaprasong intersections. The Sub-Committee had sent its staff to interview other security officers involved in the incidents.
He said that this was important, and we could not listen to only one side. The Sub-Committee has invited leaders of the red shirts to provide information on 30 Sept at the Chalermprakiat Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Rd. And it will submit a progress report to the Prime Minister in January. There should be no problem with gathering information, he said.
Sub-Committee member Lt Gen Pheerapong said that this was the Sub-Committee’s first hearing of the CRES. Lt Gen Dapong gave the overall picture, and the atmosphere was good. He focused on hearing the CRES’ thinking, assessment and analysis of the situation, leading to its resolution. The CRES explained its practice from normal situations to the crackdowns, readily answering any questions and doubts without concealment. So the Sub-Committee was aware that the CRES had worked in accordance with the law, and with the intent to solve the situation.
One Sub-Committee member said that the CRES had a great deal of information, and the Sub-Committee was contacting other agencies for additional information, including the DSI and the police. They have scheduled meetings on 14-15 Oct. The meeting with the CRES today took 2 and a half hours. Next time the Sub-Committee will ask the CRES more questions, based on information provided today. It will seek information from other parties, including the red shirts and the media as well.
CRES spokesperson Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said that the CRES had explained to the Sub-Committee all that had happened, including details it had checked with the security forces about the operations.
However, some people have tried to convince the public that 91 people had been killed during the security forces’ operations, particularly on 19 May which was claimed to take most of the 91 lives. That was not true. During the operation on 19 May, not many people were killed. The distorted claim that 91 people were killed is not true. Those who died were killed on different places and times. Currently, there is an attempt to gloss it over to attract attention, he said.
The colonel went on to dismiss the claim that the military deployed sniper units on high buildings to shoot the red shirts. The CRES has explained the details of each case. Almost all the deaths occurred in areas ‘under the influence’ of the protesters. He insisted that the CRES had adhered to the law, international practice, and court orders, and tried to avoid violence, taking into account the fact that the protesters were all Thais, only with differing political views. No soldiers would think of harming the people.