Oct 24, 2013 – Families and relatives of those killed during the 2010 political violence rallied from the Democracy Monument to the Parliament House on Thursday to oppose the government’s attempt to pass a bill which grants a blanket amnesty for all sides.
The group submitted an open letter to Samart Keawmeechai, chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee vetting the amnesty bill. The network of families of the victims, together with a few student groups, demanded that the government speed up the right to bail for political prisoners, to make sure it would not be used as a condition for passing the amnesty bill.
It calls on the government to delay the passing of any amnesty bill, and suggested that it organize public hearings to find better collective solutions. Meanwhile, the Pheu Thai Party and its allies must give assurances to the public that they would not grant a blanket amnesty to perpetrators, according to the letter.
Dozens of people were led by Phayao Akkahad, mother of nurse Kamonkade who was killed by the army in Wat Pathumwanaram on May 19, and Pansak Srithep, father of Samapan Srithep, a 17-year-old boy who was shot by the Army on May 15. They had earlier proposed a different amnesty bill to parliament which would exclude state perpetrators from the amnesty.
Phussadee Ngamkham, known as ‘the last red shirt’ on the street during 2010 crackdown, also joined the protest. She said she was very upset that the Pheu Thai Party could “betray its own people,” adding that the perpetrators of the 2010 violence should be prosecuted, so that it would deter killing in the future.
“I’m ready to throw away my red shirts anytime,” said Phussadee. “If I can bring this government up, I could also bring it down.”
The controversial bill, originally proposed by Pheu Thai PM Worachai Hema, is currently in its second reading in parliament. Wide furore erupted after Article 3 of the bill was amended to include in the amnesty “those accused of wrongdoing by a group of people or organizations set up after the coup of September 19, 2006” and “those with authority to order actions.”
If the bill was to pass, it would mean former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was found guilty of corruption by the Assets Examination Committee set up after the 2006 coup, and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thaugsuban and officials involved in the 2010 political violence would be acquitted of all accusations and wrongdoing.
The bill, however, would not include those guilty of lèse majesté (Article 112 of the Criminal Code).
Human Rights Watch, New York-based human rights organization on Tuesday issued a statement opposing the government's attempt to pass the blanket amnesty bill, saying that it should bring human rights abusers, both from the protest leaders and the officials sides to justice.
“To appease the military and promote a political agenda, Prime Minister Yingluck and her Pheu Thai Party are apparently willing to throw out the window the solemn promises they made to ensure justice for victims of political violence,” said Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch.