The content in this page ("Iura Humana Non Grata*" by Harrison George) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Iura Humana Non Grata*

So do you want to sign the petition?

What petition’s that?

To get Amnesty International thrown out of the country.

Oh yeah?  What for?

What for??  You’ve just got to look at the name.

‘Amnesty International’?

Yeah.  Dead giveaway.  Obviously a Thaksin organization.  They want him back again.

Er, I don’t think so.  I mean, Amnesty’s been called Amnesty since 1964.  Thaksin was still working in one of his dad’s cinemas then.

Thaksin used to work in a cinema? 

That’s not the point.  It means that whatever the ‘Amnesty’ in Amnesty International means, it’s got nothing to do with Thaksin.  In any case, when Thaksin was Prime Minister, Amnesty went after him all the time, for Tak Bai, the war on drugs. 

Oh.

And in any case, who was the last lot to get an amnesty in Thailand?

Er, was it that copper with the plastic bags?

No, his hasn’t come through yet. The last amnesty was the one Prayut gave himself and his mob.

Really?

Of course. It happens after every coup.  If they didn’t give themselves amnesties, they’d be guilty of sedition and up in front of a firing squad – which Amnesty would protest against, by the way.

Oh right. So, alright, maybe the Amnesty isn’t the problem.  But the rest of the name is.

What?  ‘International’?

Obviously.  It means foreign, like the international schools are for foreigners.

Thais go there as well.

And like ‘international standards’ always means ‘not Thai standards’.

So go on, explain Thai International.

Ah well, see, that means Thai-style foreign. That’s alright. 

So apart from the name, what’s Amnesty done wrong?

Well everyone knows they’re anti-monarchy. I mean, their headquarters are in the US because they have no King there.

No, their headquarters are in London.  Which has a Queen.

Oh.

And some of their biggest groups are in places like Sweden and the Netherlands.

Do they have royal families?

I think you’re a bit out of your depth here.

Yes, but Amnesty takes sides and causes divisions in society. 

I see. So let’s suppose, just for argument’s sake, that your next door neighbour is a right bastard who knocks his missus about and beats up his kids.

How did you know?

And suppose you decided to call over the garden fence and ask him to stop.

No way, I’m not doing that again.

Or maybe somebody calls the police on him. Have they taken sides?  Have they caused divisions in the family?

Well, no of course not.  He’s the one who started it. And he’s breaking the law, I think, or at least doing something he shouldn’t.

So when Amnesty says, for example, that the Thai police are breaking the law, or that the government is not doing what it promised to do under international law, who’s causing the problem?

Well, OK, but why should Thailand have to bother about international laws?  We have our own laws.

Maybe ask the Thai government. Nobody forced Thailand to sign these international human rights agreements. They did it of their own free will.

Yes, but it’s the way they do it that’s dangerous. Like putting these coloured bracelets on schoolkids and telling them to go and protest. 

Er, not quite. The kids are already at the protest and the kids decide to put on the bracelets to mark that they’re legally still children so the police have to treat them differently.

Why do they have to?

Er, because it’s the law? I mean, not that it seems to work, and the National Human Rights Commission has said the police keep throwing children and adults into the same paddy wagons and the same cells.

But if they’re children, Amnesty shouldn’t be telling them to protest. 

Er, except that Thailand did sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child, so yes, children can protest. And Amnesty isn’t telling them to protest, it’s trying to protect their rights when they do.

But what about getting all these foreigners to write to Prayut telling him he’s doing the wrong thing? It’s embarrassing for the poor man.  And most of them are in a language he can’t understand. That’s interfering in the affairs of Thailand. Why don’t they interfere in the affairs of the US, or England?

They do. All the time. And the reason why Amnesty members ask the Thai government to stop violating the rights of Thais, and foreigners, is because they’re human rights. Not Thai rights, not American rights. 

You mean they’re rights that cover everyone?

Well done.  You got it.

Except foreigners, of course. And protestors. And Muslims. And red shirts. So anyway, are you going to sign this petition or not?

* Alright, alright, I’ll explain. It’s Latin, based on persona non grata, the legal way a government says a person (persona) is not wanted (non grata) and can be kicked out of the country. Iura humana is Latin for human rights. And don’t say I never taught you anything.

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