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Military Coup

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    September 25, 2006 A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission THAILAND: MILITARY COUP--Someone had to do something? On September 21 the Royal Thai
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2006
      September 25, 2006

      A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

      THAILAND: MILITARY COUP--Someone had to do something?

      On September 21 the Royal Thai Consulate General in Hong Kong wrote
      to the Asian Human Rights Commission. In the letter, the consul
      general said that despite the September 19 military coup "the
      courts... function as normal, with the exception of the
      Constitutional Court". The Constitutional Court has been suspended in
      the absence of the 1997 Constitution. In an attached statement, the
      consulate added that the coup group had promised to "uphold the
      principles of the UN and other international organizations and comply
      with obligations under international treaties and agreements".

      The notion that courts under a military junta "function as normal" is
      of course ridiculous. So too is the notion that obligations under
      international treaties and agreements can be upheld.

      A military coup necessarily displaces the foundations upon which the
      rule of law operates. Where an army unilaterally takes power by force
      and abrogates the national constitution, it is acting illegally to
      undermine everything upon which the courts stand. In an interview
      with The Times newspaper, a senior spokesman for the junta has
      admitted as much. " is against the law... But sometimes, to break the
      deadlock, someone has to do something," Major General Thawip Netniyom
      is reported as having said.

      That "sometimes someone has to do something" is a neat phrase,
      because it can be used to justify anything. When the "someone" is an
      army clique and the "something" is a coup, a range of generic
      justifications must follow: the administration was corrupt; the
      nation was at risk; the people lacked unity. Hence the purported
      solutions: remove the administration; rescue the nation; reimpose

      What about legality? Regardless of whether or not a shot is fired,
      upon what authority does a junta order the creation of new state
      bodies, and the dissolution or recomposition of others? Upon what
      authority does it order the transfer, promotion or demotion of police
      and military officers and bureaucrats? Upon what authority does it
      nominate a new prime minister or propose a timetable for elections?

      Certainly, legal systems are complicated, imperfect and time-
      consuming. That is because the management of a modern state, with
      many competing interests and demands, is complicated, imperfect and
      time-consuming. To bypass all of this because "sometimes someone has
      to do something" is not to solve any problems. It is to throw justice
      into the rubbish bin. And with it go the principles upon which human
      rights are protected, international laws written and courts
      established. This is not stability; it is not rule of law: it is its
      antithesis. It is dictatorship.

      Thailand's national laws and courts have since September 19 been
      thrown into limbo. Whereas in the months before the coup the superior
      courts were engaged in a tremendous effort to resolve the national
      impasse through application of law, their work has been rendered
      irrelevant. Whereas the lower courts had in recent times begun to
      directly invoke the 1997 Constitution, they are now bereft of any
      basis for assertion of fundamental rights.

      Thailand's responsibilities to international laws have also ceased to
      have anything other than formal validity. The commitment to
      international law by the military junta is relevant only in terms of
      its attempts to obtain some international respectability. In
      practical terms, it is meaningless.

      The struggle for human rights and democracy in Thailand has been set
      back by decades. There is no avoiding this uncomfortable fact. Nor is
      there any possibility of reversing it. It cannot be denied through
      light-hearted observations that everything may turn out alright. The
      disastrous consequences of this military takeover must be openly
      recognised, and efforts begun to address them.

      The Asian Human Rights Commission calls upon all rights groups and
      concerned persons and agencies in Thailand and abroad to review every
      aspect of their work in the country. Now is the time to ask big
      questions of ourselves and others. We cannot be reduced to small
      talk. How can the courts in Thailand "function as normal" today? How
      can the country "comply with obligations under international treaties
      and agreements"? And how can anyone with an agenda for human rights
      and the rule of law in Thailand deny that perhaps in another five,
      ten or 15 years an army general may not again in a matter of hours
      tear up the constitution and appoint his own government on the
      pretext that "someone had to do something"? These are the questions
      that matter now. There is no more business as usual in Thailand.

      # # #

      About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-
      governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues
      in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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