The content in this page ("Five follies of the blanket amnesty" by Somyot Pruksakasemsuk) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Five follies of the blanket amnesty

Revised and translated by Prachatai
Regarding the amnesty draft bill, which was hastily passed in its second and the third readings by the lower House last week, I would like to illustrate the following five points of folly about the bill.
This amnesty bill will whitewash all sides, including Thaksin, red-shirt leaders, red-shirt supporters, Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban among others. In the name of reconciliation, the law itself is obviously hypocritical.  Notably, it does not include those convicted or accused under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, although they also are obviously victims of political conflict. The lèse majesté prisoners were sentenced because they expressed political views during the peak of the political conflict. By claiming that the amnesty draft bill is for equality contradicts the principle of equality itself. Therefore, this is the first folly. 
During the 2011 general election, the leaders of the Pheu Thai Party promised that it would restore justice in Thai society by prosecuting wrong-doers. Mr. Thaksin himself once said that he would sacrifice himself by not accepting an amnesty and have the red-shirt political prisoners receive an amnesty instead. However, this seems to have already been forgotten and dismissed by Pheu Thai politicians. Mr. Thaksin, nevertheless, dared to say that he changed his mind because he wanted to end the conflict, but this seems to be more of an excuse for his own benefit. This is no different from the former tyrant Prime Minister Gen. Suchinda Kraprayoon who claimed he "lied for the nation". No one took him seriously and in the end he was ousted. This could be the end of the political career of the Pheu Thai Party and Mr. Thaksin too. This is the second folly. 
The next serious mistake in this amnesty bill is that it will grant an amnesty to the yellow shirts who seized Suvarnabhumi Airport, Government House and other state agency compounds. Although these yellow shirts were charged, they have been always granted bail. The judicial process has been remarkably slow. In contrast, the red shirts have difficulty in fighting their cases in court and are rarely granted bail. The judicial process is also remarkably fast. Some red shirts have been jailed for free before the court ruled to acquit them. Some red shirts died behind bars before they had the chance to prove their innocence. This shows that Thai politicians easily forget, especially after they have reached a deal. This is the third folly. 
The fourth folly: the opposition Democrat Party has declared that they do not need an amnesty for themselves and also oppose the amnesty bill -- inside and outside parliament. However, the Pheu Thai Party still drafted the bill to give amnesty cover to the Democrats. The Democrats will only benefit from the amnesty bill. Apart from getting an amnesty, they get to condemn Pheu Thai forever. 
The last folly: Pheu Thai will only lose from this amnesty bill. In the end, Mr. Thaksin may be excluded from the amnesty if the Constitutional Court rules that an amnesty for Mr. Thaksin is unconstitutional. The bill also divides the red shirts since it aims to grant impunity for the murderers of 92 people killed during the 2010 demonstrations.  
Despite the extreme foolishness, the writer has found cleverness in it. The Pheu Thai Party are very keen to forget the blood and tears of the red shirts and chose to come to a settlement with the elite without risking their lives or living behind bars like the red shirts. 
Last, this writer wishes Pheu Thai to continue its clever strategy until the day that the people are enlightened and realize that anyone who dares to betray and withdraw their promise are the enemy of the people. 


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