Giles Ji Ungpakorn
In a few days’ time Generalissimo Prayut, head of the Thai military junta, will be wined and dined by the British and French governments in London and Paris. This is a disgrace!!
Since Prayut took power in a military coup in 2014, the number of political prisoners and pro-democracy exiles has increased dramatically. The number of people charged and jailed under the lèse-majesté law, merely for daring to express opinions, has rapidly increased. In recent months pro-democracy activists who have staged peaceful protests demanding free and fair elections have been slapped with multiple charges for “violating the junta’s orders”.
Generalissimo Prayut was also a key state official responsible for the cold-blooded murder of nearly a hundred unarmed pro-democracy Red Shirts in Bangkok in 2010. Snipers were deliberately used to pick-off protesters and other members of the public, including paramedics and journalists.
Added to this, the junta is engulfed in corruption scandals. However, no general is facing any charges.
The junta’s so-called “road map” towards elections and returning the country to democracy has been continuously changed, postponing elections repeatedly. Even when elections are eventually held, they will not be free and fair because the junta has crafted a system of “Guided Democracy”, intended to restrict the democratic space, tie the hands of any future elected government and also to censor the policies of political parties. The military constitution, the appointed senate, judiciary and electoral commission, and the junta’s National Strategy are all weapons in prolonging the influence of the dictatorship for the next 20 years. [See https://bit.ly/2JdK9xc ]
Given that Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron have a history of entertaining various despots from around the world, including the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia, it is not very surprising that the British Tory government and the French conservatives are happy to see Prayut and discuss trade links and weapons sales with him.
They justify this by claiming that the junta is “making progress” towards democracy. But the real reason is that these governments do not give a damn about freedom and democracy in Thailand or anywhere else. They are only interested in “global stability” and the opportunity to do trade deals, including the sale of weapons. [See https://bit.ly/2Jir2SP and https://bit.ly/2JfK5gx ]
There will be small protests against Prayut when he comes to Europe. But the real lessons from this shameful state of affairs is that democracy activists in Thailand should never hope that Western governments or the United Nations will ever help them in their struggles.
The emancipation of Thai citizens can only be achieved through the building of strong pro-democracy social movements.