[infographic] The Vicious Cycle of Amnesty

The latest round of crisis in Thai politics, which ended with a coup d’état, started with the controversial blanket amnesty bill, supported by the ruling Pheu Thai party.  
 
The bill was aimed at granting an amnesty to those involved in all political incidents taking place between the 2006 military coup d’état and May 2011. Besides protestors, it also included government officials and those who gave orders and committed crimes in political incidents between 2004 and August 2013 and those accused and convicted by the now-defunct Assets Examination Committee. The controversy arose as this meant that former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Deputy, Suthep Thuagsuban, both responsible for the crackdown on anti-establishment red shirts in 2010, would walk free from prosecutions over the 92 deaths during the crackdown, and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra would not have to serve a jail term over his conviction for abuse of authority and would escape any possible punishment for human rights violations in the restive Deep South.    
  
The Thai junta who staged the latest coup on 22 May 2014 is now drafting an interim constitution. A self-declared amnesty is a predictable consequence after any military coup and has been repeated since the 1976 coup d’état. It is anticipated that this charter will also grant an amnesty for the coup makers. 
 
General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the coup leader, and his coup group have to obtain an amnesty to protect them from criminal liability. A coup is a crime that is subject to capital punishment; however it is rare to obtain a conviction of coup makers in court. This reflects the institutionalization of coups in Thailand, given how they are accepted by parties and the courts. The military cannot stage a coup on its own. It requires the help of different branches of power and legitimacy to legalize the new government. With the courts’ recognition of the coup group as those wielding absolute power during the vacuum period and acceptance of the amnesty status of the coup makers, military coups have become part of an unwritten constitution in Thailand. 
 
The infographic by Prachatai shows the timeline of the Thai political crisis starting with the amnesty bill under the civilian government of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and ending with the anticipated amnesty for the coup makers. 
 
 
See larger image here.

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